Miami Heat Could Wind Up Anywhere From No. 2-7 in the East At All-Star Break
The Miami Heat are in no position to get comfortable about holding the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
With seven games left before NBA All-Star Weekend, they could enter the break anywhere from No. 2-7. That's how tight the upper half of the conference has been this season. With the exception of Milwaukee, which is eight games ahead of Toronto, anything is possible.
"I think this kind of competition and the context of games brings something out of you," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "This is what you're in this game for, is to find out who your team can become under pressure, playing against good competition."
A few weeks ago, the Heat held a firm grip on the No. 2 slot. They have played .500 in the last 10 games, allowing their counterparts opportunity to surpass and gain ground. The Raptors are one game ahead of Miami while the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers aren't too far behind. The Heat could actually fall behind the Pacers in the next couple of weeks. They play five of the next seven away from home, including a five-game, West Coast trip just before the break. The Heat are just 11-12 on the road.
Miami, which is coming off a 109-101 loss to the Celtics, is in the middle of a renaissance in the East. For the last several years, it was considered the league's weak link compared to its counterpart in the West. There are signs of the balance of power shifting.
"I mentioned this probably a month ago that the East has been criticized for so many years for not having the kind of depth and talented teams," Spoelstra said. "You can't make that case this year. There's a lot of really good teams in the East. There's team that are playing well. There's teams that have similar records right now. We're all going to end up playing each other. Ultimately, this is what you want as a competitor."