Wizards-Heat Preview

In the Miami Heat’s last eight games, Dwyane Wade has sat out

the four against opponents with losing records while playing four

times against playoff teams.

If that pattern holds, Wade won’t be on the court when the Heat

look for a sixth straight win in a home matchup with the Washington

Wizards on Saturday night.

Wade has missed 14 games this season with a variety of injuries,

with Miami (45-17) winning 13 of them. He sat out recent victories

over Detroit, Charlotte, New Jersey and Toronto.

He played against Boston, New York and Chicago twice in that

eight-game stretch, returning from a two-game absence to score 18

points in an 83-72 home win over the Bulls on Thursday.

Miami pulled with 1 1/2 games of Chicago for the Eastern

Conference’s best record. If the Heat win their final four contests

and the Bulls lose once, Miami will clinch the top seed.

“I just feel like you have to win on the road, no matter what,

if you want to win a championship,” Wade said. ”So it really

doesn’t matter. When you’re playing teams like the Bulls or you get

to the finals, stuff like that, the teams are good. They can win

anywhere. So it’s not really as big a deal as people make it.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra also isn’t concerned about the race

for the No. 1 seed.

“We needed to address our consistency, our identity, make sure

that we’re playing at a high level going into the postseason,”

Spoelstra said. “That is, first and foremost, our priority.

Obviously the standings are something that we’re aware of. And when

you have an opportunity to play for it, you do. But in terms of it

being bigger than anything … I think players have the proper

perspective about it.”

While Wade has been in and out of the lineup, LeBron James has

been a model of consistency in missing only one game. The two-time

MVP finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds and six assists

Thursday.

Forward Chris Bosh has sat out two straight games with what

Spoelstra described as “minor bumps and bruises.”

Miami has two meetings left with Washington (16-46) after

winning its sixth in a row in the series, 106-89 on Feb. 10. Wade

scored 26 points and Bosh had 24 and 11 boards.

The Wizards have won two straight and four of six, beating

Milwaukee 121-112 at home Wednesday. Jordan Crawford matched a

season high with 32 points despite playing with an injured right

ankle.

“I was sore but the trainers did a great job preparing me for

the game,” Crawford said. “I wanted to play.”

Washington’s last three wins have come against playoff teams

Orlando and Chicago and playoff hopeful Milwaukee. The Wizards are

enjoying the role of spoiler.

“I am proud of how these guys came out and really stood up to

how these teams are playing,” coach Randy Wittman said. “We have a

couple more coming up against Miami that will obviously be

important games.”