Tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference standings, the Miami Heat have a good chance of taking sole possession of that spot after their next game.
Continuing a stretch of nine straight contests versus sub-.500 teams to end the season, the Heat close out their road portion of their schedule Monday night when they go for a season sweep of the Philadelphia 76ers.
After having its nine-game winning streak snapped Friday against Detroit, Miami (45-35) bounced back with a 111-98 victory at New York on Sunday. Dwyane Wade(notes) scored a team-high 32 points and decided against getting X-rays on his right wrist following a first-half fall.
“I was the doctor on that one,” Wade said. “I decided against it.”
Wade and the surging Heat pulled into a tie with idle Milwaukee, which holds the tiebreaker with three wins in four matchups. The Heat, though, face Philadelphia (27-53) and NBA-worst New Jersey to end their regular season while the Bucks take on playoff-bound Atlanta and Boston.
Miami snapped a six-game losing streak in Philadelphia in its last visit there, a 105-78 victory on Feb. 16. Wade had 24 points with six rebounds and six assists, and the Heat held the 76ers to 37.9 percent shooting in their most lopsided victory in Philadelphia since a 28-point win on Feb. 18, 1997.
“A classic, classic butt-kicking,” said 76ers coach Eddie Jordan.
Miami returns to Philadelphia looking to extend its road winning streak to eight. The Heat last accomplished that Dec. 6, 2004-Jan. 7, 2005.
Miami also gets a chance to equal that mark against a 76ers team coming off one of its most impressive victories of the season, 120-101 at Memphis on Saturday. Philadelphia had lost its previous six games by an average of 12.0 points.
“Any time a shooter gets a couple of shots to go down, it seems like he can’t miss,” said Meeks, a former Kentucky star. “If you knock a couple down, you want the ball again.”
If the 76ers are going to win two straight for the first time since March 24-26, they’ll likely have to shoot better than the 41.5 percent they’ve made in three previous losses to Miami.
Wade hasn’t had many problems shooting against the 76ers, hitting 50.8 percent and averaging 28.0 points in the three wins. He needed just 29 minutes to score 24 points in the Feb. 16 victory.
Playing their final game at Wachovia Center this season, the 76ers are 12-28 there and will finish with their worst home record since going 11-30 in 1996-97.
Miami will try to sweep Philadelphia for the first time since 2005-06.