The Philadelphia 76ers are set to take on the Miami Heat Thursday night for the final time in the regular season. However, it might not be the final time these two teams face each other this year as they're both guaranteed a spot in the playoffs.
Just last season, the Heat entered the Eastern Conference playoff picture as the fifth seed. Although they were in the middle of the pack, Miami got hot down in Orlando, Florida, and took advantage of the bubble environment.
The Heat managed to make a run for the NBA Finals but came up short to LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. After last year's surprising run, the Heat didn't transition well into the 2020-2021 season.
With a ton of absences from key players throughout the year, it seemed the Miami Heat were on their way to missing the playoffs early on. But then Jimmy Butler and the South Beach squad found their rhythm and started looking more and more like the team everybody witnessed in the bubble last year.
Despite improving their record throughout the year, the Heat's front office knew they needed another notable acquisition to throw in the lineup. So, on the day of the NBA trade deadline, the Miami Heat landed former Indiana Pacers All-Star guard Victor Oladipo after his short stint with the Houston Rockets.
Oladipo would debut for the Heat on April 1. The standout guard averaged 12 points, 3.5 assists, and shot 37-percent from the field in his first four games. Before he ever really got his feet wet with the Heat, Oladipo suffered an injury.
At this point, as the playoffs approach, Oladipo has missed 17-straight games for the Heat. There was a belief he could potentially return for the postseason, but the soon-to-be free agent opted to undergo season-ending surgery on his right quadriceps tendon, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The Heat aren't expected to sink without Oladipo, as they've made it far without him before. Still, his absence will surely hurt Miami as they believed the addition of the former first-round pick would boost their chances of making another postseason run.