When they’ve met in the regular season, however, the results have been much different.
The Mavericks have topped the Heat in nine straight regular-season meetings, a streak that seems likely to continue Wednesday night in Dallas considering Miami hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record on the road in nearly four months.
Wade and Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki were the marquee names when the teams met in the 2006 finals - won by the Heat in six games behind 34.7 points per game from Wade - but the regular-season series in recent years has belonged to the Mavericks.
Dallas (44-30) hasn’t lost to the Heat (39-35) since Nov. 11, 2004, as Nowitzki has averaged 26.4 points.
Wade had 30 when the Mavericks visited Miami on Jan. 31, but Dallas shot a season-high 60.3 percent and Nowitzki matched him thanks to 12-of-14 shooting in a 111-95 win.
“They wouldn’t miss,” said Wade, who had missed the previous three games against the Mavericks due to injury. “Our best game would have had trouble winning tonight.”
To snap their slide against Dallas, the Heat will have to do it on the road, but that seems like a longshot. Miami has lost six of seven and 11 of 14 to fall to 13-23 away from home, and it hasn’t beaten an opponent with a winning record outside of south Florida since topping Utah on Dec. 3.
Dallas, 6-9 at home against opponents with a winning record, is trying to move up from eighth in the West to avoid a first-round matchup against the conference-best Los Angeles Lakers.
Coach Rick Carlisle’s team, though, had dropped consecutive games prior to a trip to Minnesota on Tuesday. A 103-101 loss to Denver on Friday was just the Mavericks’ second at home in their past 16 contests, and they followed that up by getting blown out 102-74 at league-best Cleveland on Sunday.
The Timberwolves, though, were no match. Nowitzki led the way with 23 points and 12 rebounds and Jason Terry added 21 in the 108-88 victory, but more importantly Josh Howard returned from the sprained left ankle that had sidelined him for the past 12 games.
Howard had 14 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes.
“He’s been through this a couple times now, so he’s familiar with it and we’re familiar with it,” Carlisle said. “He’s one of our best slashers and best drivers of the ball and one of our best runners.”
Perhaps the best slasher in the NBA is Wade, but the league’s scoring leader (29.9 points per game) hasn’t been able to rescue Miami lately.
The Heat have lost six of nine to put themselves in danger of falling out of the fifth spot in the East - anything lower would mean a matchup with division leaders Cleveland, Orlando or Boston.
Miami got a look at one potential first-round opponent on Monday, but Wade’s heroics weren’t enough to get his team past the visiting Magic. The five-time All-Star scored 42 points, but Orlando came away with a 101-95 victory.
To make matters worse, backup point guard Luther Head broke his hand and will likely miss the Heat’s first-round playoff series.
“It means other guys will have to step up more,” Wade said after Miami fell to 15-6 when he scores at least 35 points. “I’m fine having the ball in my hands more. That’s no problem at all.”