For the first time since the 2009-10 season, there will be another team representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals after the Miami Heat were eliminated from playoff contention.
Miami last missed the playoffs in 2007-08 and will put the finishing touches on the season Wednesday on the road against the Philadelphia 76ers. It has reached the NBA Finals in each of the previous four years, capturing a pair of NBA titles in that time.
LeBron James was a huge part of those trips to the Finals, along with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and left South Beach to return home to Cleveland. James is an MVP candidate once again and has the Cavaliers in the No. 2 spot.
Bosh was lost for the season in February with blood clots in his lungs, but that opened the door for promising big man Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside is averaging 11.8 points and 10.0 rebounds, and has a bright future.
The Heat went 2-2 on a four-game homestand and closed the stay with a 100-93 victory over the Orlando Magic Monday night, as Whiteside recorded 24 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks. Wade added 22 points and handed out five assists, while Luol Deng ended with 14 points and 10 rebounds to keep Miami's hopes alive.
The Heat led by as many as 22 points and needed to hold off a late Magic run to get their second win in eight games.
Erik Spoelstra's squad has lost four straight and nine of the last 10 road games and is 16-24 away from South Beach.
The 76ers have dropped nine in a row and hope to end the season on a positive note. They are in contention for a bevy of ping-pong balls in the draft lottery and suffered a 107-97 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks Monday night.
Former Sixer Michael Carter-Williams recorded 30 points, while Robert Covington countered with 25 points for Philadelphia, which made 40 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 30 times for 47 Milwaukee points.
"(The Bucks) are a good defensive team. They are a long defensive team," Sixers coach Brett Brown said.
Sixers rookie forward Nerlens Noel was held out of the lineup due to a right ankle sprain and has missed two straight games. He is expected to miss Wednesday's contest versus the Heat.
76ers guard Jason Richardson (knee) and forward Luc Mbah a Moute (shoulder) are listed as questionable Wednesday.
Philadelphia has lost four in a row at home and is 12-28 as the host.
The Sixers have lost two of three meetings with the Heat this season and the two teams have alternated wins and losses over the last seven matchups. The Heat are 22-4 in the past 26 games in this series and 6-1 in the last seven trips to south Philly.