MIAMI – The Wizards will try to win six consecutive road games for the first time since Michael Jordan led the team in December 2001.
Washington has not defeated Miami at American Airlines Center since April 11, 2012, when John Wall fed Nene for a game-winning layup in an 86-84 layup. It has lost its past two games in Miami, including a 103-93 defeat on Nov. 3.
Nene will not be around for the third meeting between the two teams this season. The Brazilian big man remains sidelined with a left knee injury but scored 19 points, including an impressive fourth-quarter dunk over LeBron James, when the Wizards won, 114-107, on Jan. 15 at Verizon Center. His absence has resulted in the bottom falling out for the Wizards, who have claimed eight of their past nine games. They will also be without Kevin Seraphin for the seventh straight game.
“I don’t think it’s hard at this point in the season to stay focused on what we’re doing. That’s the bottom line,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “If we don’t take care of business, none of the other stuff matters. You’re dealing with the last quarter of the season. I think staying focused shouldn’t be a problem.”
James made eight three-pointers and scored a career-high and franchise record 61 points against Charlotte the last time the Heat was in Miami. But Miami returns home after losing three straight games in Houston, San Antonio and Chicago. The importance of the game is probably reflected in the fact that Dwyane Wade will attempt to play on the second end of back-to-back games for just the third time this season.
“I played a lot of minutes last night,” Wade said before the game. “I came in today and got a good workout in, and felt good enough to give it a shot. We’ll see how the game goes and how I progress.”
Miami hasn’t lost four in a row since losing five straight from Feb. 27 to March 8 in the first season that James, Wade and Chris Bosh played together. Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra expects the Wizards to be a good test for the two-time defending champs.
“They are one of the hotter teams in the league,” Spoelstra said of the Wizards. “Every time we face them, they are a different team. Tonight is about seeing if we are up for the challenge.”
(TV: Comcast SportsNet. Radio: WFED-1500).
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