Standings taking greater importance for Spoelstra

The Sports Xchange

The standings have returned to the Miami Heat locker room.

While coach Erik Spoelstra primary focuses on his players living in the moment, with the competition for the top overall seeds in both the Eastern Conference and NBA so fierce with both the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder, Spoelstra has taken to posting the numbers to keep his players aware.

"You get to this time of year when you have to look at positioning," said G Dwyane Wade, with the Heat defeating the visiting Hawks 89-86 Wednesday night and the Pacers up next for the Heat, on Saturday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. "You want to win them all, but some of them are impossible. You want to put yourself in the best position when it comes to the playoffs."

To a degree, some games will be bigger than others, with three games against the Bulls and two against the Thunder remaining on the Heat's schedule.

"At this point of the year, you start looking at tiebreakers," F Shane Battier said. "That's a big issue when it comes to the playoffs, and so, obviously, you want to win the season series against the teams you may play in the playoffs.

"Those games will be hotly contested, I promise you that."

The top of the standings certainly have been.

"Obviously those two teams have played very well," Battier said. "And obviously we know what Chicago is doing, because they're in our neighborhood. You tend to forget about what a team's doing on the other conference. They're good, they're really good. Both of those teams are really, really good."

Heat players are now duly aware.

"We're all playing some good basketball right now," F LeBron James said of the league's elite. "Oklahoma City is playing good basketball, Chicago is playing good basketball. So we can only worry about ourselves. So as long as we take care of business, we'll be fine."

Even if goes down to the wire.

"I think," F Mike Miller said, "it'll be one of those things where you'll find out last week of the season who's seeded where."

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