The Miami Heat secured a spot in the postseason, but also fell to sixth in the East with their 110-93 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.
Miami clinched its playoff berth when the Chicago Bulls lost earlier in the evening. This will mark the 19th time in franchise history that the Heat take part in the playoffs. It also avoids a rare second straight missed appearance. Head coach Erik Spoelstra has now taken Miami to the playoffs in seven of his eight seasons.
While clinching a playoff spot is a goal, seeding becomes very important at this stage. That is something the Heat will fight for over the last stretch of games. Miami is only a half-game behind the third seed and is in a virtual tie for fifth. The Heat will play the fifth-seeded Boston Celtics on the final day of the season as well. At this moment, Boston holds the tie-breaker.
Finishing in the top four would be allow Miami to have home court advantage in the first round, which is critical. The Heat are 25-13 at AmericanAirlines Arena this season, and 19-19 on the road. That extra home game could determine how long Miami's playoff run will last.
This was the second game of a back-to-back for Miami and it came after the team had to fight for a win in Sacramento. The Heat looked lethargic at times against a highly-motivated and energized Portland squad. The Trail Blazers are currently trying to secure their own spot in the playoffs.
Dwyane Wade missed a second straight game, but could be back for the Heat in their next contest. With Wade out of action, Gerald Green was once again given the starting assignment. After leading the team with 30 points a night earlier, Green was quiet in this one with only seven points.
Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside both compiled double-doubles in the loss. Deng had 14 points to go along with 13 rebounds. Whiteside led the team with 20 points and added 13 rebounds of his own. Whiteside also blocked four shots to give him 251 on the season.
Miami will take a couple of days off now before hosting the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m.