Having won the opener of their five-game trek, the Heat play the first of four straight games in tough venues for visiting teams when they meet the Sacramento Kings.
O’Neal has been sidelined since Nov. 3 with an ankle sprain, and is unlikely to return on this road trip.
The Heat had lost all four of their road games without him before winning 96-74 at Atlanta on Wednesday night. The Hawks have won only once in eight home games.
The rest of Miami’s opponents on this road swing, though, are very good at home. Sacramento, Denver, the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio have a combined 23-8 home record.
“It’s going to take a collective effort, establishing ourselves a little bit better than we have on the road,” Heat center Alonzo Mourning said. “Because we expect to be there in June. We’ve got to focus and come together on the road in other people’s arenas.”
Mourning had 14 points and 12 rebounds Wednesday, good for his fifth double-double of the season and second in three games.
“There were a lot of positives,” said Miami coach Stan Van Gundy. “But also, a word of caution: We have to have a more even performance and get our energy at a higher level more consistently if we’re going to go out on the road and play the teams that we’re going to play now.”
Miami won its visit last season to Arco Arena—with O’Neal playing—and has won the last three meetings with the Kings overall. The Heat had lost their previous four trips to Sacramento.
The Kings find themselves in an unfamiliar position. They’re below .500 at the start of December for the first time since the 1997-98 season, when it was 5-11.
Sacramento dropped below the break-even mark on Wednesday night, having a three-game winning streak snapped with a 113-106 loss at Golden State.
The Kings topped 100 points for the seventh time in eight games, but a 5:35 stretch in the third quarter without a field goal proved too much to overcome.
Four Sacramento players scored 20 points or more, led by Bonzi Wells with 23.
Mike Bibby, who added 22 points, has scored at least 20 in each of his last six games after being hampered by a sore foot early in the season.
Sacramento’s offense has been clicking at Arco, where the Kings have won their last three games—all against Eastern Conference teams—while shooting 50 percent or better from the field each time.
The Kings, who are opening a four-game homestand, have won six of eight at Arco.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 1): Heat - 1st place, Southeast Division. Kings - 4th place, 3 GB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Heat - Wade, 25.1 ppg and 6.9 apg; Mourning, 8.3 rpg. Kings - Stojakovic, 19.1 ppg; Wells, 8.4 rpg; Miller, 6.5 apg.
2004-05 SEASON SERIES: Heat, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: March 4; Heat, 104-83. At Miami, Wade had 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and five Heat players scored in double figures.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Heat - 2-4 on the road; Kings - 6-3 at home.