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Heat In Playoffs, Look To Avenge Thunder Loss Wednesday

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As the Florida Panthers were losing out on a chance to clinch a playoff spot at the Bank Atlantic Center, the Miami Heat clinched a second-straight Eastern Conference playoff berth with a 99-93 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

The game was crucial for the Heat to come out and show that what happened in Boston on Sunday was an outlier and not the norm for the team. Miami looked lethargic and disinterested in the Celtics game, but came back ready to play against the 76ers.

Dwyane Wade was out of action Monday night, officially due to knee soreness after he bumped knees with a Celtic on Sunday. Without Wade, LeBron James went into score first mode and poured in a season-high 41 points.

The biggest shift in the roster came at the center position. After starting Joel Anthony for the majority of the season, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra inserted Ronny Turiaf into the starting lineup and used Joel Anthony as a spark off the bench.

Turiaf responded with six points and six rebounds in roughly 22 minutes of action Tuesday night against Philadelphia. While it's not exactly setting the world on fire, if Turiaf can give the starting lineup that kind of production most nights; he will quickly establish himself as the starting center.

The regular season has entered its final month and Miami's challenges will continue to come fast and furious. Wednesday night, the Heat will have to face the Oklahoma City Thunder, who just last week hammered the Heat 103-87 in Oklahoma City.

Miami has played great at home this season, but struggled on the road. Miami lost to Oklahoma City, Indiana, and Boston all by double-digits in the last few weeks. The Heat did pull out a victory in Toronto over a horribly overmatched Raptors team.

The Heat has plenty to work on over the final month that will have the team mainly playing at home through April. Primary among the goals is to get Chris Bosh right heading into the postseason.

Bosh has disappeared at times over the past month and while LeBron James is the team's MVP and possibly the NBA's MVP, the Heat will only go as far as Bosh can go in the playoffs. If he disappears in the playoffs, the Heat are likely going down to someone like the Celtics, Bulls, or the Thunder.

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