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Winderman’s view: Avoiding play-in still tricky (unlikely?) proposition for Heat even with win

MIAMI -– Observations and other notes of interest from Friday night’s 125-103 victory over the Toronto Raptors:

– Don’t believe the hype.

– Yes, the Heat can move to No. 6 in the East and out of the play-in with a Sunday victory and a Sunday loss by the Magic, as well as a loss by the 76ers or Pacers.

– The Heat assuredly will be playing to win, with potential homecome in the play-in at stake.

– But the Bucks, the Magic’s opponent Sunday, have shown little desire to finish second in the East.

– Damian Lillard sat on Friday night for the Bucks and more could sit Sunday, beyond injured Giannis Antetokounmpo, on Sunday for Milwaukee.

– Another obstacle is the need for the Pacers to lose at home Sunday or the 76ers to lose at home to the Nets.

– With the Hawks locked into the road seed in the Nos. 9-10 play-in game at Chicago, Atlanta has no incentive against the Pacers to risk the health of any rotation player against the days before an all-or-nothing game.

– The pseudo-Hawks winning Sunday in Indiana would be one of the biggest upsets of the season.

– Similarly, Brooklyn has nothing to play for in Philadelphia.

– Indifference rarely wins in the NBA.

– Keep that in mind.

– Even with a top-six seed in the balance.

– With Terry Rozier and Duncan Robinson out, the Heat again opened with Bam Adebayo, Nikola Jovic, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Caleb Martin.

– The Raptors opened with a lineup of RJ Barrett, Gradey Dick, Kelly Olynyk, Gary Trent Jr. and  Immanuel Quickley.

– Which is pretty representative for a lottery team at this time of year.

– There was a big Butler hug for Olynyk just before the opening tip.

– Jaime Jaquez Jr. was first off the Heat bench.

– Kevin Love and Haywood Highsmith followed next together.

– Delon Wright, in the absences of Rozier and Robinson, then got the call as ninth man, after Patty Mills had gotten that call Wednesday night against the Mavericks.

– Of the Raptors not necessarily prioritizing victory in these final two games, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said pregame, “What other teams are doing, we aren’t. We’re trying to win. So that’s how we’re approaching the game. There’s clarity and simplicity.”

– Spoelstra did note how so much is up in the air around the league this final weekend of the regular season.

– “It’s probably one of the few things that’s given me great joy the last couple of days,” he said, “is that how the video room right now is trying to prepare and figure things out.”

– Spoelstra, of course, is a former video coordinator.

– “Small joys,” he added, of being able to tease the video room.

– As for watching the standings, Spoelstra said that ship has sailed.

– “I think earlier on, it was probably a lot of that,” he said. “It’s human nature. Not right now. Based on what this last week has been like for us, it’s just great clarity right now. We’re focusing on one game, there’s nothing like the present moment.”

– With the Heat staging Jersey Night, Spoelstra was asked about his Heat favorites.

– “I like the Vice jerseys, but there’s a ton of ’em,” he said. “I mean the old-school ones, the old-school Tim Hardaway and Zo jerseys, those were pretty cool. I’d like to get a Keith Askins and Dan Majerle one as well.”

– This is the sixth time the Heat has faced the same opponent in consecutive games this season. The Heat entered the set having previously swept such pairings against the Pistons and Hornets, and having split such sets twice against the Bulls and once against the Pacers.

– Herro extended his streak of appearances with at least one 3-pointer to 33, breaking the previous career best streak he had through March 2021.

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