NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, March 22nd (All times eastern)
Miami Heat (36-34) at New Jersey Nets (7-62), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Miami Heat aim to take another step towards seizing a playoff berth in tonight's game against a New Jersey Nets team hoping to avoid getting closer to setting a dubious NBA record when it takes the IZOD Center court this evening.
Miami will enter the Meadowlands holding the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference and moved into that spot with Saturday's 77-71 victory over visiting Charlotte. The win pushed the Heat a half-game ahead of the Bobcats in the standings, with Toronto lurking only one behind Miami in eighth place.
The Heat were able to stop a two-game losing streak despite an off night from Dwyane Wade, with the All-Star guard's 14 points coming well under his season average of 26.5 per game. Quentin Richardson helped offset his teammate's modest total by burying a franchise-record six three-pointers in the first half en route to an 18-point effort.
Michael Beasley added 16 points and seven rebounds for Miami, which has won seven of its last 10 overall. Wade did contribute in other ways, dishing out nine assists while tying a career high with five blocked shots to lead a strong defensive effort.
"We were well balanced today," Beasley said after the game. "That's unusual for Wade. I think he made his presence known. He basically had a quadruple- double, almost. He was doing everything on the defensive side, getting rebounds and getting the team involved. It says that we have people that could put points on the board."
Miami starts up a key three-game road trip tonight and owns a mediocre 15-18 record as the visitor this season. The Heat have won in five of their last six stops at the IZOD Center, though, including an 87-84 decision there on February 17.
The Heat also came through with a one-point win over the Nets in Miami earlier this season and have taken five of the past six overall meetings between these teams.
Miami played Saturday's test without center Jermaine O'Neal due to a sprained left ankle, but the six-time All-Star is expected to be available for tonight's game. The 31-year-old is averaging 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds in his first season with the Heat.
While New Jersey has no chance of reaching the postseason, the team still has something to play over the season's final few weeks. At 7-62, the Nets are in danger of establishing a new league mark for futility set by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who went 9-73 over the course of that campaign.
A current seven-game skid has enabled New Jersey to creep closer to that unwanted mark, with the latest loss taking place against Toronto on Saturday. Devin Harris had 22 points and seven assists for the Nets in the 100-90 setback, which dropped the club to a horrid 3-30 at home for the season.
Brook Lopez tallied 18 points and 13 rebounds for New Jersey, which held a three-point halftime lead before being outscored by 32-19 margin in the third quarter.
"The games that we win we make a lot of right plays, good momentum plays," Harris said. "[Saturday] we didn't. [The Raptors] got a lot of loose balls, and the offensive rebounds were key for them to push the lead up to double- digits late in the game."
03/22 10:45:04 ET