In the all-or-nothing, reign-or-pain world of sports, where Pat Riley himself coined the phrase, “There is winning, and there’s misery,” can a team ever fall short but not fail?
The Miami Heat just did.
It was win-and-go-home Wednesday night in the downtown bayside arena. Won-and-done. The Heat defeated Washington 110-102 in the regular season finale but missed the NBA playoffs anyway because Chicago and Indiana — one of whom had to lose Wednesday — both won.
The playoffs are de rigeur for the three-time champion Heat. Seventeen of the previous 21 seasons had continued into the postseason. Most years, making the playoffs is the bare minimum for what defines a successful season for this franchise.
Not this time.