As they are set to take on the hottest team in the NBA, the Miami Heat have their best player healthy. Unfortunately, they can't say the same about their supporting cast.
Following a four-game western road trip, LeBron James and the Heat return home Thursday night but are unsure of Dwyane Wade's status as they face the red-hot Golden State Warriors.
James missed a game on the trip before returning for Monday's 97-74 win at Denver, but Wade left because of back spasms and played only 18 minutes.
"He's just sore," coach Eric Spoelstra said. "His back tightened up, he was in (the locker room) with the thought it would loosen up and he could get back out there, but he just didn't."
Wade's status for the game against the Warriors is unknown. The same goes for reserve guard Norris Cole, who also left Monday's game after hitting his face on the floor at the end of a driving layup attempt. Plus, big man Chris Andersen could miss a fourth straight game due to a sore back.
Even with those injury problems Monday, James led the Heat to their eighth win in nine games as he had 26 points and 10 assists with a season-high five 3-pointers. He sat out a win in Portland two nights earlier because of a groin injury.
"I took nine 3s and all of them felt good," the four-time league MVP said. "The groin wasn't an issue at all."
The Heat (24-7) have won five consecutive home games, averaging 114.2 points, and are 14-2 in Miami, but Golden State heads there feeling very confident.
The Warriors (20-13) have won six games in a row and now seek their longest winning streak since an eight-game run March 25-April 8, 2005. Plus, they're the only Western Conference team to win in Miami since the start of last season, winning 97-95 on Dec. 12, 2012, on Draymond Green's layup with 0.9 seconds left.
Golden State is coming off a 94-81 victory in Orlando on Tuesday night. David Lee led the Warriors with 22 points, but it was the team's defense that was the difference. The Magic shot 38.2 percent from the field despite Golden State's starters sitting out the entire fourth quarter.
"We need to bring the same intensity (vs. Miami)," guard Stephen Curry said. "We feel like if we play the way we are supposed to play, we can beat everybody in this league. That is the mindset that we have and it is nice to have everybody healthy and ready to go to finish out this road trip and keep the momentum that we have."
Defense has keyed the Warriors' win streak, holding opponents to 89.7 points per game and 29.5 percent from 3-point range.
Curry had just nine points Tuesday - the second time all season he's failed to score in double figures - but had only 10 field-goal attempts with eight assists. Golden State is 10-0 when Curry plays and is held below 20 points.
He's never reached 20 in four matchups with the Heat, averaging 12.8 points, but has missed three of the team's past five meetings.
Miami's Chris Bosh averaged 23.8 points and 8.3 rebounds during the road trip and is the NBA's reigning player of the week.