Heat Go For 8th Straight in New Jersey
The Miami Heat proved they can defend their home court with their latest homestand, but now they look to carry that success to the road.
The Heat try to extend their season-high winning streak to eight games and continue their push to the top of the Southeast Division when they visit the New Jersey Nets on Thursday.
Oddsmakers have made New Jersey -3 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 185.5 total points (View NBA Sports Books). Our public betting information shows that 82% of bets for this game have been placed on Miami +3 (View NBA Bet Percentages).
Miami (34-29) has not played on the road since a 92-83 victory over division-leading Washington on Feb. 28. The team followed that victory with a perfect six-game homestand, capped by an 88-86 win over Utah on Tuesday.
The Heat had the ninth-best record in the Eastern Conference and were 4 1/2 games behind the Wizards in the division before their streak began, but have defeated Washington twice during their run to make it a close battle for first place.
In Tuesday’s win, Miami erased a 17-point second-half deficit and outscored the Jazz 28-12 in the fourth quarter.
The Heat matched their largest comeback of the season and continued their winning ways without Dwyane Wade, the reigning NBA finals MVP who is out indefinitely with a dislocated left shoulder.
"With D-Wade out, everybody’s been stepping up," said Antoine Walker, who scored all 13 of his points in the final 11 minutes against the Jazz. "And every night, it’s been someone different for us."
The Heat have won two of three games against the Nets (30-35) this season, but the teams haven’t met since New Jersey’s 91-81 victory on Dec. 29.
Shaquille O’Neal totaled 34 points and 15 rebounds in the two games he’s played against the Nets. He has just 25 points over his last two games, playing limited minutes due to foul trouble, after scoring a season-high 32 in Friday’s win over Minnesota.
Tuesday’s win was the Heat’s 13th straight at home, one more than their total number of road wins all season (12-19). Miami is 3-9 on the road since Jan. 15.
"We have to get back on the 48-minute game, being sharp, being solid and being focused," coach Pat Riley said. "Going on the road, we need to do that in New Jersey because they’re hungry."
The Nets are in the mix for one of the last playoff spots in the East, and are looking to make a run now that they are back at full strength.
Richard Jefferson is coming off his best game since returning from ankle surgery, scoring a game-high 26 points in New Jersey’s 112-108 victory over New Orleans on Tuesday.
"I’ve felt the best the last few days that I have all year long, since probably last season," said Jefferson, who has played four games since missing six weeks.
"I think you can see it in my spring in my legs and just my activity, my rebounding. In everything, you can see my activity is up. It feels good to be out there and playing on the level that you’re accustomed to."
The Nets closed a six-game road trip on Tuesday, winning the last two following a five-game losing streak. This contest opens a three-game homestand.
Vince Carter struggled for most of the road trip, averaging 20.5 points on 38.6 percent shooting. He’s averaged 32.8 points in his last five home games.
By: Marc Young – theSpread.com – Email Us
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