April 10, 2015

MIAMI (AP) Dwyane Wade knows there's plenty of doubt about the Miami Heat and their playoff chances right now.

It doesn't make him want to hide.

Instead, he's telling teammates to use it as fuel.

Down and somehow not yet out - even after a season dominated by illness, injury and some big blown leads, most recently a 19-point halftime edge on Thursday night - Wade told his team at practice on Friday that there's a reason why the Heat still have a pulse in the Eastern Conference playoff race - and it's not because so many teams are under .500.

''Individually, each guy in here at some point has been told they're not good enough, has been told they can't do it,'' Wade said. ''So individually, everyone has that mentality. ... That's the reason guys haven't packed it up and said `This season's over.'''

They could have in July, when LeBron James left Miami for Cleveland. They could have in December, when Josh McRoberts was lost for the season with a ligament tear in his right knee. They could have in February, when Chris Bosh was ruled out for the year because of blood clots on a lung.

Yet at practice Friday, the Heat were still working. They entered the day with three games left and sitting in 10th place in the East standings, two spots outside of the postseason bracket.

''We still think we have a good shot at it,'' Heat forward Udonis Haslem said. ''We could have let this thing go a long time ago, and we didn't. We stayed with it. This team has a bunch of guys that probably a lot of people never thought would be here.''

Haslem has been with the Heat for all 12 of his pro seasons, like Wade. They've been to the NBA Finals five times, winning three titles. The team has played 154 playoff games during their careers together. But if this group - which features players who've recently been in the NBA Development League, Lebanon and China - gets into the playoffs, Haslem said it would ''huge.''

''And if we get in, who knows what can happen in a seven-game series,'' he said.

The Heat have lost six games in which they've led by 15 or more this season, most recently the Thursday debacle against Chicago when Miami was outscored 33-8 in the third quarter alone and 39-8 to open the second half - more than enough to waste a 19-point halftime lead.

Still, with Toronto on Saturday, Orlando on Monday and Philadelphia on Wednesday, the Heat figure a 3-0 finish might just be enough - although they'll need some help.

''This has been a turbulent six weeks,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ''But we're still alive.''

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