Winderman: Miami Heat get to coast into playoffs

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Wade_dunk.jpgAs NBA teams jockey for playoff position these final two weeks of the season, expect some sort of formal protest from the Bucks, Bobcats and the other teams jostling for position in the second tier of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Somehow, the Heat is being allowed to close out its season in the D-League.

Not only does no team have as forgiving a finishing run as the Heat, but also each of the eight remaining games the Heat plays comes against teams at least 20 games below .500.

Yes, you read that right, at least 20 (two-oh) games below .500.

The closing run:

Wednesday at 23-57 Detroit.
Friday at 27-47 Indiana.
Saturday at 14-60 Minnesota.
April 7 home against 26-47 Philadelphia.
April 9 home against 23-57 Detroit.
April 11 at 26-47 New York.
April 13 at 26-47 Philadelphia.
April 15 home against 10-64 New Jersey.

The Heat, of course, is saying all the right things.

“We don’t look at who we play,” center Jermaine O’Neal said. “We have not talked one time about teams’ schedules. We have not talked that. We have not talked about teams’ records. We’ve talked about us and what we needed to do.”

Still, for the mathematically challenged, the Heat closes out its schedule against competition that is 231 games below .500.

How could you not notice that?

“We’re not looking at anything like we’re good enough,” forward Quentin Richardson said. “We’re not the Lakers or Cleveland, where we could look at teams and try and look past them. I don’t even think those teams do it, either, but we definitely know we need to focus one game at a time.”

True, this is a team that has already lost at home to the Timberwolves and Wizards, as well as on the road to the Clippers and Bulls, but having won 11 of its last 14, this also has become a different team since then.

Can you say fifth seed in the Eastern Conference?

The schedule seems to be saying as much.

Now whether this is the best way to prepare for the Hawks or Celtics in the opening round is an entirely different story.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Stephen Curry dumps ice on mid-interview Klay Thompson, who says ‘I’m still hot’ (video)

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Klay Thompson scored an incredible 60 points in 29 minutes.

So, what did Stephen Curry do? Dump ice on his Warriors teammate during the post-game interview, of course.

That didn’t cool down Thompson, who’s probably still hot this morning.

Marc Gasol’s step-back 3-pointer sends Grizzlies to overtime, where they down Pelicans (video)

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Marc Gasol has turned himself into a bona fide 3-point shooter, and his latest triple came when the Grizzlies needed it most.

Gasol’s 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter tied last night’s game against the Pelicans.

Then, Troy Daniels hit a 3-pointer to tie the game in overtime:

Memphis went onto win 110-108 in double overtime behind 28 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, two blocks and two steals from Gasol.

The Grizzlies have won three straight without Mike Conley (or Chandler Parsons), the victories coming by a combined six points

Celtics’ Al Horford blows game-winning layup against Rockets (video)

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The Celtics couldn’t have asked for a much better look on their final possession, but Al Horford missed this layup to give the Rockets a 107-106 win last night.

Maybe Isaiah Thomas should have gone to the line for getting pushed over by Montrezl Harrell, but I’m not 100% sure Harrell should’ve been called for a foul. Besides, that Thomas screen sprung Horford for the layup. I’d take my chances with that barely contested close-range shot.

Michael Beasley, Davis Bertans ejected from Bucks/Spurs for being third/fourth into altercation

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This should have been the usual NBA altercation — two guys jawing with nothing physical happening because teammates step in, everyone does their posturing, and we move along. Monday night in the Spurs eventual win over the Bucks, Greg Monroe and Dewayne Dedmon got tangled up going for a rebound, Dedmon threw a little elbow, Monroe pushed him off, and the two started the well choreographed NBA dance.

Then San Antonio’s Davis Bertans came in and shoved Monroe.

Followed by Milwaukee’s Michael Beasley coming in and shoved Bertans.

Both Beasley and Bertans were ejected for escalating the situation, and you can expect the league will hit both with a fine for being the third/fourth men in.