The Miami Heat nearly blew a 20-point third-quarter lead against the Orlando Magic Wednesday night, but LeBron James' clutch layup kept Miami's franchise-best win streak intact. The Heat will try to secure its 17th consecutive victory tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers at 8.
The key for Miami tonight is simply to play up to its potential. The Heat relaxed after building the 20-point lead early in the third period and allowed an inferior team back in the game. Miami defeated the Sixers Feb. 23 in a 114-90 blowout on the road during this winning streak, and the Heat executed its offense very well that night. Miami consistently found open looks then, turning up good looks for great looks. Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier and Ray Allen combined for eight 3-pointers then. When Miami moves the ball, the team's 3-point shooters get open looks and the offense runs smoothly.
Miami has actually beaten Philadelphia 15 of the last 16 times the two teams have played -- that includes the first-round matchup in the 2011 playoffs and goes back to the 2009-10 season, when the Heat's second- and third-best players were Michael Beasley and Jermaine O'Neal. Philadelphia also lost three straight and 10 of its last 11 games, making it unlikely that the Sixers will make the playoffs. But the Heat simply need to avoid the trap door and come into this game with respect for the opponent. The Sixers have some nice players who can score like Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday and even former Heat player Dorell Wright. But the Heat have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
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