Though things haven’t gone well lately for the Miami Heat, especially on the road, visiting Philadelphia might be a welcome sight.
The Heat go for a 10th straight regular-season win over the 76ers – a team they have really dominated in 2012 – and enter Friday night trying to avoid their longest road losing streak in nearly four years.
This matchup caps a three-game trip for Miami (31-11), and the first two did not go well. One night after blowing a 14-point lead in an overtime loss to Orlando, the Heat couldn’t take advantage of Derrick Rose’s absence and fell 106-102 to Chicago on Wednesday after failing to make up a 17-point deficit.
Dwyane Wade had 36 points and is averaging 30.7 over the past three games. LeBron James scored 35, but for the second straight game just two of his points came after the third quarter.
A victory at Portland in its return from the All-Star break gave Miami 20 wins in 23 games, but the Heat have since gone 3-4 with each loss coming on the road.
“We had to break like everybody else and that’s how fragile things are in this league,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But the character and the makeup of our group, we’ll work together to find a way to get back to where we were. We were playing excellent basketball three weeks ago, but that’s in the past.”
The Heat are at risk of their worst road losing streak since the season before Spoelstra took over. They haven’t dropped five consecutive games away from home since losing their final nine of 2007-08.
One of the Heat’s biggest problems on the road has been clearing the glass. They’ve been outrebounded by an average of 13.2 in the last four road games, giving up 61 offensive boards.
“We’ve been playing some big teams to start the second half of the season,” said James, who was averaging 10.4 rebounds this month before having five Wednesday. “… We’re undersized, but we just gotta figure it out. We gotta put more bodies on guys.”
Miami has had no such trouble in two matchups with the 76ers (25-18) this year, outrebounding them 99-69 while winning each game by at least 20 points.
The Heat have won the last nine regular-season meetings, and their only loss in the past 14 overall against Philadelphia came during the first round of last year’s playoffs.
The 76ers had won three in a row before losing 111-94 at Indiana on Wednesday. They forced eight turnovers, one off a season low, and let the Pacers shoot 56.6 percent – the best by a Philadelphia opponent in more than a year.
“I thought this was our poorest defensive game all season,” said coach Doug Collins, whose team leads the NBA in points allowed (87.9 ppg) and field-goal percentage defense (41.8).
The Sixers haven’t allowed 100 points in back-to-back games all season but now face a Miami team that leads the Eastern Conference in scoring at 102.5 per game.
However, the Heat would have failed to reach 100 for the fourth straight game Wednesday if not for two late 3-pointers by James Jones. Chris Bosh has averaged 14.3 points on 37.5 percent shooting in those contests, while Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers have combined to go 3 for 26 from 3-point range.
Evan Turner has averaged 21.8 points and 10.3 rebounds in the past four games for Philadelphia, which has won its last two home games after losing five of six.
The 76ers could have a new player in uniform, having acquired swingman Sam Young from Memphis shortly before Thursday’s trade deadline.