Heat closes regular-season with win over Raptors, with play-in matchup vs. 76ers up next

The Miami Heat needed a win and some help on the final day of the regular season to avoid the NBA’s play-in tournament.

The Heat got the win, cruising to a 118-103 victory over the Toronto Raptors (25-57) on Sunday afternoon at Kaseya Center to close the regular season at 46-36.

But the Heat didn’t get the help it needed, as the Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers also won on Sunday to keep the Heat in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and play-in tournament-bound for the second straight season.

The Heat now has to travel to Philadelphia to take on Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and the scorching 76ers in the East’s No. 7 vs. No. 8 play-in game on Wednesday at Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m., ESPN). The winner of that game will secure the East’s No. 7 playoff seed and face the second-seeded New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs, while the loser will host a win-or-go-home play-in game on Friday for the East’s No. 8 playoff seed.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Wednesday’s matchup against the 76ers. “It will be a great environment. Philly has been playing fantastic recently. So we know what to expect up there. That is what we say, it’s for competitors only. It should be a lot of fun.”

A Magic or 76ers loss paired with the Heat’s win on Sunday would have moved Miami up to No. 7 in the East to host the first play-in game. A Magic loss and a 76ers or Pacers loss paired with the Heat’s win on Sunday would have moved the Heat up to sixth place in the East and out of the play-in tournament.

The Heat took care of its own business, closing Sunday’s first half on a huge 42-17 run to take full control of the game and enter halftime with a 21-point lead. Miami led by as many as 30 points in the second half against a Toronto team already well out of playoff contention.

The issue is the rest of what the Heat needed to happen on Sunday to move up in the standings and/or avoid the play-in tournament didn’t happen.

Jimmy Butler only played 24 minutes for the Heat in the regular-season finale, finishing with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field, five rebounds and four assists.

Bam Adebayo added 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field, six rebounds, two assists, three steals and one block in 19 minutes for the Heat.

Tyler Herro contributed 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field and 2-of-5 shooting on threes, six rebounds and eight assists in 29 minutes for the Heat.

“I feel good about the group,” Spoelstra said, as the Heat enters the postseason. “That’s all I wanted to see these last couple of games. I just wanted to feel it. I know my team, I know the locker room. I can sense that the group is ready. That’s all you can ask for.”

Five takeaways from the Heat’s win over the Raptors on Sunday:

The Heat is heading to the play-in tournament for the second straight season.

The Heat qualified for the playoffs as the East’s No. 8 seed through the play-in tournament last season on the way to making an improbable run to the NBA Finals before losing in the championship series to the Denver Nuggets. To make another deep playoff run this season, the Heat will again need to do it through the play-in tourney.

“I feel like everybody is confident, everybody is decently healthy for the most part and we just got to go out there and hoop, man,” Butler said of the approach entering Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia. “Leave it all out there on their floor and come out with one.”

How is the play-in tournament structured? Here’s how it will go in the East ...

The 76ers will host the Heat in a play-in game on Wednesday. The winner of this matchup earns the conference’s No. 7 playoff seed to face the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.

The Chicago Bulls will host the Atlanta Hawks in another play-in game on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. The loser of this matchup is eliminated from playoff contention, while the winner of this game goes on the road to take on the loser of the No. 7 vs. No. 8 play-in game on Friday to secure the East’s No. 8 playoff seed and a first-round playoff matchup against the top-seeded Boston Celtics.

As for how the Heat fared against the 76ers this season, the two teams split their four-game regular-season series 2-2. But Embiid only played for the 76ers in one of those games, as he missed the other three matchups because of injuries.

In the one game Embiid played against the Heat this season, he finished with 29 points to lead the 76ers to a 109-105 win over the Heat in Miami on April 4.

Embiid is expected to be available for the 76ers in Wednesday’s play-in matchup against the Heat. The 76ers closed the regular season on an eight-game winning streak.

“Obviously, we played Philly multiple times and we know what we’re stepping into,” Herro said. “It won’t be easy, but it’s a challenge that us competitors are looking forward to.”

The Heat remained without Duncan Robinson and Terry Rozier, as uncertainty looms over Rozier’s status for the postseason.

Robinson (left facet syndrome) and Rozier (neck spasms) each missed their fourth straight game for the Heat with their respective injuries.

While Robinson was at least upgraded to questionable on the Heat’s injury report for Sunday’s game before being ruled out, there’s some uncertainty surrounding Rozier’s status for the start of the postseason.

There’s still hope that Rozier will be ready in the coming days to be available for the start of the postseason, according to multiple sources, but he’s set to undergo further testing on his neck injury to determine his status. The Heat continues to label Rozier as day-to-day.

“He will not play today and that’s all I got for you,” Spoelstra said before Sunday’s game when asked whether Rozier will be back for the postseason. “We’ll give you an update when we get one, but he’s not ready to play today.”

Robinson has also been sidelined for the last week with his back issue, as the last time he played was in the Heat’s April 7 loss to the Pacers in Indianapolis.

“It’s been good for both of them,” Spoelstra said of the last week of recovery for Robinson and Rozier. “Both of those guys, their bodies will let us know. They’re making progress. I know how badly both of them want to be out here right now. But we’ll just continue to treat them.”

The only other Heat player unavailable Sunday was Josh Richardson, who will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder in early March.

Meanwhile, the Raptors were missing a chunk of their roster in the final game of their season. Toronto played without Scottie Barnes, RJ Barrett, Chris Boucher, D.J. Carton, Mouhamadou Gueye, Jakob Poeltl, Jontay Porter and Immanuel Quickley.

Unfortunately for the Heat, the regular-season finale included a new injury to a rotation player.

Heat backup center Kevin Love exited Sunday’s game with 22.8 seconds left in the first quarter and did not return because of a left upper arm contusion.

After Love left the game on Sunday, the Heat used Thomas Bryant as its backup center against the Raptors. Bryant closed the win with 18 points and 10 rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench.

Love has established himself as an important part of the Heat’s rotation this season, providing positive minutes when Adebayo heads to the bench. The Heat entered Sunday outscoring opponents by 6.6 points per 100 possessions with Love on the court this season.

But Love’s status for the postseason now is up in the air after Sunday’s injury. This comes after Love recently returned from a bruised right heel that forced him to miss 14 straight games.

“He got hit in the arm and it was like a stinger,” Spoelstra said of Love after Sunday’s win. “So we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

Jaquez closed his first NBA regular season on a high note.

After scoring 20 points and dishing out a career-high nine assists in Friday’s win over the Raptors, Jaquez recorded 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and 6-of-7 shooting from the foul line, four rebounds, five assists, one steal and two blocks in Sunday’s regular-season finale.

Those performances marked only the second and third time that Jaquez has finished with double-digit points in the last nine games.

“I just mentioned something to him in the locker room after the game that he looked like himself from earlier in the season,” Spoelstra said when asked about Jaquez following Sunday’s win. “He has his legs under him, he’s healthy. I think he has a clear mind, he has 70-plus games under his belt. He feels good, I think he has an idea of what his role is right now.”

Before this two game stretch, he averaged just 7.3 points and 2.1 assists per game while shooting 43.1 percent from the field and 29.4 percent shooting from three-point range in his previous 16 games.

The Heat’s playoff roster is set.

With Sunday representing the final day of the NBA regular season and the final day for NBA teams to make personnel moves ahead of the playoffs, the Heat did not make any changes.

The Heat will enter the playoffs with a 15-man roster of Adebayo, Bryant, Butler, Herro, Haywood Highsmith, Jaquez, Nikola Jovic, Love, Caleb Martin, Patty Mills, Richardson, Duncan Robinson, Orlando Robinson, Rozier and Delon Wright.

But Sunday marked the end of the season for Heat two-way contract players Jamal Cain, Cole Swider and Alondes Williams because two-way contract players are not eligible to take part in the playoffs. However, Cain, Swider and Williams are expected to remain around the Heat for the duration of its postseason run.