It might be surprising to learn where the two-time defending
champion Miami Heat have suffered most of their road losses this
What isn’t all that shocking is that the absence of Dwyane Wade
played a role in half of those setbacks.
After winning the first of a 14-game stretch that features 11
away from home, the Heat continue a four-game road swing Friday
night against the Sacramento Kings.
The Heat (22-6) have gone 8-4 outside Miami, but the only loss
that came against a top-tier team was a 90-84 defeat at Indiana on
Dec. 10. The others have come to clubs which are all at least five
games under .500 – Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Chicago.
Coach Erik Spoelstra has been taking the opportunity to rest
Wade against lesser competition, but his teammates are not always
taking care of business when he sits.
Wade, hampered by knee trouble all season, was sidelined for the
losses against the 76ers and Bulls. He was also on the bench when
Miami suffered the most recent of its only two home losses Dec. 3
Whether Wade suits up in Sacramento remains to be seen. Resting
the All-Star may seem logical given the matchup opens a
back-to-back that concludes Saturday against Portland – one of the
Western Conference’s top teams that is leading the league with
108.4 points per game.
In addition, Miami has beaten the Kings by an average of 18.8
points in six meetings since LeBron James joined the team before
the 2010-11 season. The Heat have won 10 in a row against
Sacramento and 18 of 19 dating to March 6, 2004.
Plus, Miami has won 19 straight over West opponents, one away
from the longest regular-season streak by an East team. Boston won
20 straight over the West during a nine-month span of 1973.
Wade, meanwhile, looked strong on Christmas, scoring 23 points
on 11-of-17 shooting and logging a season high with nearly 39
minutes in a 101-95 road win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Chris Bosh also scored 23 and James added 19 to help Miami push
its overall win streak to six games.
“We’re not better than we were last year, but it’s only
December,” James said. “I believe we can be better than the team
that won in June. This is a process. We don’t want to play
championship ball right now.”
James has won his last 13 games against the Kings after a
122-103 home victory last Friday. He had 18 points on 8-of-11
shooting, and Bosh had arguably his best game of the season with 25
points and eight rebounds while shooting 11 for 16.
Sacramento (8-19) has dropped six of eight and now faces three
straight imposing matchups, hosting Miami before road games at San
Antonio and Houston.
The Kings got lit up by one of their former players in their
most recent game, a 113-100 loss to New Orleans on Monday. Former
NBA Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans had a season-high 25 points and
added 12 assists for the Pelicans.
“First of all, we didn’t get stops,” said Isaiah Thomas, who had
21 points. “Secondly, we didn’t dial in on that end of the floor
and (Evans) made every play. He scored, he passed, and he did what
DeMarcus Cousins had 24 points and 14 rebounds, but Rudy Gay
struggled through a 2-for-12 night and scored 11 while committing
six of the Kings’ 22 turnovers.