Turning It Around

After closing out a season-high six-game road trip by winning two straight for the first time in 2007-08, the Miami Heat are starting to turn things around following a poor start.

The Heat begin a stretch of playing five of their next six games at home Thursday night when they try to continue their success against the Washington Wizards.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Miami -5.5point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 205 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 77% of bets for this game have been placed on Miami -5.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Miami (6-15), holder of the worst record in the Eastern Conference, opened the trip with four consecutive losses before beating the Los Angeles Clippers 100-94 on Sunday and the Phoenix Suns 117-113 the next day.

"Going out West really helped us off the court as well as on the court," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. "It helped us get to know each other a little more, helped us as men respect each other a little more, respect what each other does, and it's still coming. It's not there yet, but it's still coming, and I think these next six games coming up ... are going to show how close we have become."

Wade was instrumental in the last two games, scoring 64 points on 59.1 percent shooting (26-for-44) and adding 16 assists. Wade, who scored 10 of his 31 points in the final four minutes Monday, leads the team with 22.7 points and 6.4 assists per game after missing the first seven contests while recovering from offseason knee and shoulder surgeries.

He is averaging 22.8 points and 6.5 assists in 13 games against Washington - all victories.

Wade's outstanding play against the Wizards (11-10) has helped the Heat to a 15-1 record in the last 16 matchups, including eight consecutive victories at home. The lone loss came in a 106-95 road defeat last Dec. 15, but Miami responded by taking the next three meetings.

The Heat hope that success, combined with the momentum created from the end of the trip, can help them improve on a 2-6 home mark. They are being held to an average of 88.0 points in their six losses at AmericanAirlines Arena.

"It's not much fun getting off to the kind of start we got off to and I just hope that whatever other things that were going on have been lifted," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "There seems to be a little lighter air to the team. I think they've gotten through it and gotten closer together."

Miami is expected to have point guard Jason Williams back Thursday after he missed the last two games with a sprained ankle. Williams is averaging 14.2 points and 4.8 assists in his last five games against the Wizards.

Washington, which has won four of its last five, had six players score in double-digits Tuesday in a 102-88 win over Minnesota.

With Gilbert Arenas sidelined, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison have taken on more of a role offensively and lead the Wizards with 22.8 and 21.4 points, respectively.

Jamison had 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Butler added 20 points and 10 boards Tuesday, but the biggest contribution might have been reserve point guard Roger Mason's season-high 17 points.

Mason is averaging 12.8 points in the last five contests, going 11-for-18 from 3-point range over that span.

"We understand that Caron, myself - it just can't be us. We need the rest of these guys to contribute on the offensive end," Jamison said. "We need everybody."

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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