The last time the Miami Heat had a winning record, they were playoff bound as a 50-game winner.
The Heat look to move above .500 for the first time in nearly three years as they go for their 11th straight home win in the opener of a home-and-home set with the fading Cleveland Cavaliers.
Miami won a 10th straight home game for the first time since the 1999-2000 season and reached the .500 mark for the first time since Nov. 6, 2001—a span of 238 games—with Wednesday’s 104-101 victory over the Boston Celtics.
Miami opened the season 0-7 and has a chance to become the first team since the Cavs in 1995-96 to bounce back from such a bad start to finish with a winning record.
“I don’t think our guys will ever quit on anything,” Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. “They will not let anything go, because they know we’ve come back to win enough times before.”
Miami is still fighting for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and has incentive to gain home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Heat, 1 1/2 games behind fourth-place Milwaukee, have the best home record in the Atlantic Division at 27-12, but are just 12-27 on the road. They have four games left, while the Bucks, who are riding a four-game win streak, have three.
The Cavs continued to hurt any chance they have of making it to the postseason with their sixth straight loss and 10th in 11 games, 92-74 to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.
With four contests remaining, the Cavs are three games behind the Celtics for the final playoff spot in the East.
LeBron James shot just 4-for-11 from the field for 14 points as Cleveland scored only 12 fourth-quarter points in losing its fourth straight road game.
Carlos Boozer, who entered the game averaging 18.6 points and 12.9 rebounds over the past 37 games, was held to seven points and eight boards.
The Cavaliers were 1-of-3 from 3-point range, matching a season low in attempts beyond the arc.
“We were not only tired, but we just didn’t play worth a damn either,” Cavs coach Paul Silas said. “That’s it, plain and simple.”
Cleveland looked to be making a serious playoff run with an 11-2 surge from Feb. 20-March 16. But the Cavs have managed just one victory since—and that came against a New Jersey squad playing without All-Stars Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin.
The home-and-home series concludes at Gund Arena on Saturday.
STANDINGS (through April 7): Cavaliers - 5th place, 25 1/2 GB, Central Division. Heat - 2nd place, 6 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Cavaliers - James, 21.0 ppg; Boozer, 11.6 rpg; McInnis, 6.1 apg. Heat - Jones, 17.7 ppg; Odom, 9.9 rpg; Rafer Alston, 4.6 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 28; Cavaliers, 94-93. At Cleveland, Ilgauskas scored a season-high 30 points and James added 27 points as the Cavs snapped Miami’s three-game win streak.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cavaliers - 11-28 on the road; Heat - 27-12 at home.