Despite being mired in their worst season in 18 years, the last-place Miami Heat are hoping to extend their dominance over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, while winning back-to-back games for only the second time.
The Heat, holders of the worst record in the NBA and less than two years removed from winning their only NBA title, were also 11-45 in 1989-90—their second season in the NBA. They finished that season 18-64 after only managing 11 wins in their first 57 games.
Miami matched that win total Friday with a 103-93 victory at Seattle, snapping a 14-game road losing streak. It was also the team’s second win in three overall games. The other was a 107-86 victory against the Kings (26-32) at home on Tuesday.
The Heat have only managed to win consecutive games once this season, doing so Dec. 9-10 on the road.
They hope to match that season high against Sacramento, a team they have beaten eight times in a row dating back to a loss at Arco Arena on Jan, 13, 2004. Miami has won three matchups there since.
Miami hopes Dwyane Wade, who is averaging team highs of 24.5 points and 6.9 assists, can help the Heat extend their mastery of the Kings after he scored 31 points on Friday. The performance came after he totaled 33 points in the previous two games, including 15 against the Kings.
The guard was criticized for that subpar production by TV analyst and former Indiana Pacers’ great Reggie Miller, who claimed Wade was only 60 percent of his old self after undergoing left shoulder and knee surgeries in the offseason.
“Tell Reggie to meet me at the gym in Miami and see what percentage I am,” said Wade, more playful than pointed after Friday’s win. “We’ll go from there. I’m not 100 (percent), but I’m not 60.”
Heat coach Pat Riley, though, is prepared to rest Wade if he feels it isn’t worth risking the superstar’s health in closing out a disappointing season.
“If this thing gets further away from us, then I think it would be prudent to say, ‘We’ve got to take care of our best asset,’” Riley said.
That isn’t expected to happen Sunday, and Wade is averaging 23.3 points and 8.2 assists in going 6-0 lifetime versus Sacramento.
Sacramento returns home after ending a five-game road trip with four straight losses, including Friday’s 115-106 defeat at Dallas. The team hasn’t dropped five in a row since March 8-16, capped by a 103-97 defeat at Miami.
The Kings, though, have won seven of their last eight at home, scoring an average of 112.5 points—nearly 12 points higher than their season average.
Kevin Martin, the Kings’ leader with a career-high 22.4 points per game, has been a big part of that success, averaging 23.3 points in those eight games. He is coming off a 25-point performance against the Mavericks after being held to six on 2-for-9 shooting in a 123-117 loss at Atlanta on Wednesday.
Martin wasn’t much better in the last meeting with the Heat, scoring 14 points.