While Chris Bosh has done the heavy lifting lately, Dwyane Wade pulled his weight late in the Miami Heat’s most recent win.
The pair of aging stars look to keep the Heat rolling against a team falling in the opposite direction when the Brooklyn Nets visit Monday night.
Miami (18-11) has looked at times like a team at the end of an era, losing eight games by double digits. But in other stretches the Heat seem like the contender they still claim to be, including their current spurt of six wins in eight games.
The major tipping point to which way Miami falls is the performance of Wade and Bosh.
Bosh has been on fire lately, following a combined 18 points in consecutive games earlier this month with an average of 25.8 in the last four. He has a plus-15.1 net rating in that stretch while adding 7.3 rebounds and shooting 50.6 percent.
Wade has averaged 21.5 points and shot 50.5 percent in his last six games, saving his best for late in Saturday’s 108-101 win at Orlando. Wade scored 12 of his 24 points in the final five minutes and finished 7 for 12 from the field and 10 for 10 from the free-throw line while adding six assists.
"Obviously I understand the ball was going to be in my hand a lot (in the fourth quarter) and I understand what that might mean," Wade said. "I kind of knew where my shots would come from and I got a couple to go, but more importantly, it was about being aggressive."
Miami made 13 of 18 shots in the final 12 minutes, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range to improve to 15-1 when scoring more than 95 points.
One of Wade’s best shooting games of the season came when the Heat beat the Nets 104-98 in Brooklyn on Dec. 16. He finished 13 of 17 from the field for 28 points, while Bosh scored just seven on 1-of-7 shooting. Wade has averaged 27.3 points in the last four matchups of this series.
The Heat have won the last five meetings.
Brooklyn (8-22) lost for the seventh time in eight games Saturday by falling 111-96 to Washington. It was the Nets’ sixth straight home loss to close a stretch of nine of 11 games at Barclays Center.
Brooklyn is 2-12 away from home, but its lone win in the last two weeks was a 105-102 victory at Chicago last Monday.
The Nets head into this one needing to improve in many areas, but particularly at the foul line. They’ve shot 36.7 percent from the stripe in their last two games, and they committed 20 turnovers against the Wizards after having just 11 in an overtime loss to Dallas three days earlier.
"It takes a lot of effort to win in this business. It’s not easy," coach Lionel Hollins said. "You can’t play when you want to play. You’ve got to play every night, every minute."
Joe Johnson had five points on 2-of-9 shooting against the Heat earlier this month and continues to struggle. He’s averaged 8.9 points and shot 30.4 percent in his last seven games.