The Heat, 6-0 at home since their star guard went down with a shoulder injury, go for their 13th straight win at AmericanAirlines Arena when they host the Northwest-Division leading Utah Jazz on Tuesday in a matchup of streaking teams.
The Heat (33-29) have won six in a row overall and 14 of their last 18— including seven of nine without Wade—as they head into the homestand’s finale Tuesday. Miami’s six-game run is its longest since winning 10 in a row last season, and its 12-game home streak is its best since taking 18 in a row during the 2004-05 season.
Miami hasn’t lost at home since Jan. 21 against Dallas.
The Heat, however, will be facing a Jazz team that’s also riding a six-game win streak and has won four in a row on the road, where it is 18-12 this season. Utah (43-19) has won 14 of its last 16 and has the fourth-best record in the NBA.
Miami’s 106-104 win over Washington on Sunday pulled the Heat within one game of the Southeast Division-leading Wizards. Udonis Haslem hit the winning shot in the lane with 0.3 seconds left to put the Heat four games over .500 for the first time this season. They’re in sixth place in the East, four games ahead of seventh-place Indiana.
“I think they realize that they are moving ahead of some of the teams, and there are still teams in front of them,” coach Pat Riley said of his players. “We have a lot of work to do here in order to get something we want. We have to win now to have a chance.”
“I think all of us have been playing really well,” Payton said. “With the eight-man rotation we have now, it’s been a big plus for us. Everybody knows their role as we come off the bench. If we come out and play like that every night, then it’s going be hard to beat us.”
Utah is coming off a 96-86 win over New Orleans. The Jazz opened the second half with a 9-0 run and never trailed again on the way to their sixth consecutive victory—two shy of their season high.
“We’re just playing good basketball right now,” point guard Deron Williams said. “We’re competing. We’re not getting out to the bad starts that we used to get out to, for the most part. And we’re finishing games, finishing teams off.”
Boozer and Okur have combined to average 39.3 points and 18.8 rebounds on 51.8 percent shooting this season.
“They’re just both versatile,” Williams said. “They’re both great scorers, both great rebounders, and they just give us a lot of energy and big offensive presence.”
The Heat have won six in a row against Utah, including a 119-110 victory at Salt Lake City in the first meeting of the season Jan. 13. However, extending that streak to seven could be tough without Wade, who averaged 30.2 points and 6.3 assists in the six victories.