Heading into the final 5 games of the regular season, it seems that most of the attention surrounding the Miami Heat has little to do with the actual games being played. That comes with the exception of Sunday's matchup against the Boston Celtics, but we'll get to that when the time comes. For now, the Heat are preparing for a 3-game homestand and getting their roster as ready for the postseason as possible.
That preparation includes getting players healthy, something that has proven to be not so easy for Miami. On the plus side, Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers returned to action during the Heat's last game, giving their bench some much needed depth. Both missed time with knee injuries as Miller sat out 3 games and Chalmers missed 6, losing his starting job to Mike Bibby in the process.
Sitting out practice on Tuesday was Dwyane Wade, who suffered a right thigh bruise during Miami's win over the Nets on Sunday. The injury has left Wade in a great deal of pain and it'll be a game-time decision whether or not he will play tonight against Milwaukee. We all know how D-Wade's style of play will often leave him banged up, but his recklessness for his own well being can be rivaled by his toughness and resilience. Dwyane has only missed 4 games this season and hasn't sat out consecutive games since February of last year.
While the majority of the team is finally getting healthy, there aren't many regular season games left for everyone to get on the same page. That being the case, the Heat need to utilize as much game and practice time as they can in order to be prepared for whatever the playoffs might throw at them. Still, the assortment of talent and veteran leadership that Miami has is something that isn't easy for teams to accumulate and in itself can be quite intimidating.
With only a handful of games remaining, Miami can guarantee themselves at least the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference if they win out. That would mean homecourt advantage in rounds 1 and 2 of the playoffs and possibly round 3, depending on whether or not it would be against the 1st seed. Of their remaining 5 games, only two are against teams that are above .500 (Boston and Atlanta).
Right now the Heat are tied with Boston for the 2nd seed in the East, but the Celtics hold the tiebreaker. The Celtics have a much tougher final 5 games then Miami as they have to play both Chicago and the Heat on the road before closing out the season at home against the Knicks. It doesn't look like Miami or Boston will be catching the Bulls for the top spot in the east, as they hold a 3 game lead over both of them.
The Heat will face a Milwaukee Bucks team tonight that is still clinging to hopes that they can sneak into the final playoff spot. Right now they're sitting in 10th place, 3½ games behind 8th place Indiana. They could have made up some ground last night in Orlando but managed to score just 72 points on 36% shooting in a 6-point loss to the Magic. The Bucks schedule gets a bit easier after they leave Miami, but it may be too little too late by then. Indiana hosts the Wizards tonight, and a Pacers win combined with a Milwaukee loss would eliminate them from playoff contention as they would trail Indy by 4½ games with only 4 to go.
- Miami has won all 3 games against the Bucks this season.
- Should they sweep Milwaukee, it will be the 11th time this season that the Heat have swept a season series.
- LeBron James is 2 points away from scoring at least 2,000 in a season for the 7th straight time. Only seven other players have scored 2,000 points in 7 different seasons; LeBron will become the youngest to do so.
- For the first time since 2004-05 Miami is 30 games above .500.
- Over their last 4 games the Bucks bench has outscored their opponent 145-91.
- The Heat has won 21 straight games when they score 100 or more points.
- Milwaukee has held 59 opponents under 100 points this season, which leads the NBA. They rank 3rd in points against, giving up 92.6 points per game.
- Udonis Haslem (foot) is out for Miami while Dwyane Wade (thigh) is questionable.
- As for the Bucks, Carlos Delfino (chest) and Jon Brockman (shoulder) are considered day-to-day but Ersan Ilyasova (concussion) is out.
Tipoff from the AAA is set for 8:00. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.