Heat look to stay hot at home, face Philadelphia

April 3, 2012

Tune into Sun Sports at 7 p.m. to watch the Miami Heat take on the Philadelphia 76ers. NBA Heat territory.

The Miami Heat saw their road struggles continue in front of a nationally televised audience over the weekend.

Fortunately for them, a five-game homestand seems to be coming at just the right time.

Looking to extend its home winning streak to 16, Miami tries for a four-game season sweep and 11th consecutive regular-season victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night.

Playing at home versus on the road has made a world of difference for the Heat (37-14) of late. Miami is 3-7 in its last 10 road games after falling 91-72 to Boston on Sunday, posting its lowest scoring output in more than two years.

"It's definitely a string of issues on the road," said LeBron James, who had 23 points but failed to record an assist for the second time in his career. "We've got to be more mentally tough."

The Heat were outscored 31-12 in the third quarter and shot 34.8 percent from the field, including 3 for 16 from 3-point range.

"This game was unacceptable. We will fix it together, collectively," coach Erik Spoelstra told the league's official website. "We're not happy about it, we have not been able to come up with an answer on the road, particularly in the third quarter. We fell prey to that again."

Getting back to AmericanAirlines Arena could be just what the Heat need to regroup. Miami has outscored opponents by an average of 11.0 points during its 15-game run on its own court - its longest such streak since winning a franchise-best 18 in a row at home Jan. 23-April 5, 2005.

A visit from the 76ers (29-23) could also help. The Heat have dominated this series of late, taking 10 straight regular-season meetings by 12.4 points per contest. They've won 16 of 18 home meetings when their three wins in the first round of the playoffs last season are included.

Philadelphia was blown out during its first two games against Miami this season, 113-92 on the road Jan. 21 and 99-79 at home Feb. 3. The 76ers then trailed 57-30 at the break before falling 84-78 on March 16.

Those last two Heat wins came directly after Miami losses.

"If you wanna look at Miami, every time we've played them, they've come off a situation like (Sunday)," coach Doug Collins said. "... So we can really thank our opponents for every time we get ready to play this team - we get them in a foul mood."

Philadelphia was blown out 97-76 on the road by lowly Washington on Friday for its sixth loss in nine games, but bounced back with a 95-90 victory over Atlanta the next day. Elton Brand led the way with 25 points and 10 rebounds while Andre Iguodala added 18 and eight.

"It's how you respond to a loss like (Friday's)," said Brand, who's been limited to a combined 18 points and 36.8 percent shooting versus Miami this season. "A lot of things could've been in jeopardy if we didn't win this at home. We had to have this win."

The 76ers held a three-game lead over Boston for first place in the Atlantic Division as recently as March 11. Now, they find themselves a game behind the surging Celtics and 2 1/2 in front of third-place New York.

"I was having nightmares of 3-13," Collins said, referring to the team's awful start last season. "I told the guys I want to believe that's not who we are, and they showed me (Saturday) that's not who they are."

Philadelphia plays 10 of its final 14 on the road, where it's dropped nine of 12. The 76ers host Toronto and Orlando following this contest before visiting Boston in a much-anticipated showdown Sunday.