Heavy Public Action on The Shaq-Less Heat Against The Sixers

Team Page: Philadelphia :: Miami

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Injuries have taken their toll on the Miami Heat, who've barely resembled defending NBA champions.

With playmaker Dwyane Wade doing almost everything he can, the Heat look to win consecutive games for only the second time this season when they host the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.

Oddsmakers have made Miami -3 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for tonights game, the over/under has been set at 194 total points (View NBA Sports Books).

Miami hasn't won back-to-back games since defeating Seattle and New Jersey from Nov. 7-10. The Heat had lost six of their previous seven games before beating Charlotte 102-93 on Saturday night.

Center Shaquille O'Neal is out at least another month after undergoing knee surgery while James Posey has missed five straight games with a calf injury. Jason Williams and Gary Payton, Miami's point guards, both have nursed injuries, which has made Wade's presence that much more important.

He scored 35 points Saturday, including 15 from the free-throw line, and added 12 assists to help the Heat (5-8) top the Bobcats. One night earlier, he had 15 assists in a 107-104 loss to Orlando.

``Now he can be a distributor and a facilitator,'' said Heat coach Pat Riley, who won his 400th game with Miami. ``The ball can come back to him on the second option. I think he's beginning to understand that.''

In each of his last two games, Wade has gotten to the free-throw line at least 20 times and scored 68 points overall. Still, he seemed more pleased with his fifth game this year in which he had at least 10 assists.

``I've been really trying to get my teammates confidence and hitting them in their sweet spots,'' said Wade. who's averaging a career-high 8.0 assists per game.

Against the Sixers, Wade is averaging 25.8 points and 6.8 assists. He also had a career-high 48 points against them in a 126-119 road loss on April 14, 2005.

If Wade leads Miami in scoring on Monday, it'll be his 11th straight game as the team's high scorer, breaking the franchise record he currently shares with Sherman Douglas, who led the Heat in scoring 10 consecutive times in 1990-91.

Even though Wade is performing at his usual high level, the Heat have been subpar at home this season. They've lost four straight at American Airlines Arena for the first time since dropping the last two home games of 2002-03 and the first two of 2003-04.

Miami hasn't lost more than four in a row at home since losing six consecutive games from March 4-18, 2003. The Heat didn't lost more than two in a row at home while finishing 31-10 there in 2005-06.

Miami has won five straight home games against Philadelphia (5-8) and six of the last nine meetings between the teams, although the 76ers beat the Heat 107-98 at home on Nov. 5. In that game, Sixers guard Allen Iverson had 31 points - the fifth straight game against the Heat in which he's scored at least 30.

Since then, Philadelphia has lost eight of 10 games, including a 108-95 loss to Cleveland on Saturday to begin a three-game road trip.

``We gave the game away,'' Iverson said. ``We just stopped playing. There ain't a whole bunch to say. We jumped right on them. I know games have two halves.

``But we had that game. No way are we supposed to give that up. Honestly, I feel like this is the worst loss that we've had this year. It's just a complete breakdown.''

The Sixers opened up a 13-point first-quarter lead, but quickly saw it disappear as they lost their fourth straight away from home.

Forward Chris Webber didn't make the road trip with the Sixers. He's missed the last five games with lower back soreness.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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