The Miami Heat are on fire. Well, not really. They’re currently on a winning streak of four games.
The feat is something the Miami Heat achieved during their first five games of the season.
Each of the Heat's first four wins came by double digits. Three of those wins were by 26 or more points, highlighted by their thrashing of the Orlando Magic.
The Miami Heat have now won three or more consecutive games on three separate occasions.
Now the Miami Heat are about to embark on their longest road trip this season.
Yes, they will be on the road for all of six days and play a whopping four games against opponents who are a combined 34-42.
The so called experts suggest this will be another test to further gauge a team that has seemingly made tremendous strides over the past week.
So make no mistake, this brief road trip won’t be some kind of bonding experience for the Miami Heat. Nor should it be a very challenging one either.
What it should be is another step in the Heat’s quest to continue its climb atop the Eastern Conference standings. It also should be another step in the cohesion process for a team that is still learning what they are.
So what can Miami Heat fans and detractors expect out of the Heat this week?
Will they finish .500, undefeated or end up with their longest losing streak of the season?
The Milwaukee Bucks are 7-12 on the season.
Like the Miami Heat, the Bucks have been dealing with injuries and players not living up to expectations. They have been the model of inconsistency to say the lease.
The Bucks had been expected to compete for a top four or five seed in the Eastern Conference. But it’s looking more like they’ll be fighting for a seventh or eighth place finish.
They will start Brandon Jennings, John Salmons, Luc Mbah a Moute and Andrew Bogut. They also will be starting their 6'11" rookie, Larry Sanders.
Sanders will be starting for Drew Gooden, who is listed as day-to-day. Carlos Delfino also is out injured.
The Bucks present the Heat with two difficult talents to try and contain in Bogut and Jennings.
Bogut is arguably the most complete player at the center position. He‘s also coming off a dominating performance that propelled the Bucks to a win over the Orlando Magic. The Heat will have their hands filled him.
Jennings is one of the fastest and quickest players in all of basketball. His ability to get in the paint can cause numerous problems for the Heat defense. He’s also a pest on the defensive end and could limit the effectiveness of Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers.
Expect Bogut to check Bosh often with Sanders playing the role of rim protector as he plays off the Heat centers.
Mbah a Moute will be assigned to containing LeBron James. Defense is where he earns his check and he could make things difficult on James. If he falters, Ersan Ilyasova and Corey Maggtte will be asked to step in.
That leaves Dwyane Wade to feast or famine. He will be defended by John Salmons and Chris Douglas-Roberts. Neither of which can play him.
The Bucks have four of their seven wins at home this season. They also have five losses at home, so it’s not like home court will be an advantage for the Bucks. But expect Scott Skiles to have his team ready to play to begin the game.
However, the Heat will be off and running come the second quarter.
I’m predicting a 95-82 Heat victory.
Wade getting big on the Jazz.
The Utah Jazz are 15-6 on the season.
This will be a game of redemption for the Miami Heat. After being up, 75-62, at the end of the third quarter, the Heat allowed the Jazz to come back and still the game away from them.
The Jazz provided little resistance to the Heat’s offense as they scored 24 or more points in each quarter (25, 26, 24 and 29).
However, the same can be said in regards towards the Heat defense against the Jazz’s offense. Utah would increase its scoring each quarter (13, 19, 30, and 42).
A lot of things fail into the Jazz’s favor that allowed them to come out victorious.
It’s not likely that Millsap will go for 46 points again. It’s also not likely that Al Jefferson will finish with just two-points either.
With that said, the Jazz present the same roster that was intact when they defeated the Heat in Miami back in early November.
The Heat will be without the injured Udonis Haslem and released Jerry Stackhouse. However, Mario Chalmers is now healthy and Eric Dampier Is also there to provide size against Jefferson.
The Jazz are 13-3 over their last 16 games. But the Heat are showing some strong signs that they are starting to understand what they can and can’t do on the court.
Expect this game to be more like the first half in Miami, rather than the second half debacle.
I’m predicting a 108-88 Miami Heat victory.
The Golden State Warriors are 8-12 on the season.
After opening the season 7-1, the Warriors are 1-11 in their last 12 games. With their next two games being against Dallas and San Antonio, they could very well be 8-14 when the Miami Heat rolls in.
The Warriors are thin on the front-line with Brendan Wright, Luo Amundson and rookie Ekpe Udoh being injured. None are expected to be available when the Heat plays the Warriors, though there’s a slight chance that Udoh could make his rookie debut versus the Heat.
The Warriors are fueled by a perimeter attack that features arguably the most explosive back-court in the league with Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. The third member in this perimeter oriented assault is former Miami Heat swing-man, Dorell Wright.
The three players combine to score more than 60 points per game. They also average close to six made three-pointers per game.
After them, the Heat should have little concern as the Warriors front-line is about as apposing as the Heat point guards.
Wade has made the Golden State Warriors his personal lap dog for most of his professional career. For his career he’s shooting over 52-percent and averaging close to 30 points per game. He also has an eight assist per game average.
James has had similar success, shooting close to 50-percent and averaging close to 29-points per games. Like Wade, James too averages over seven assist versus the Warriors.
Bosh is shooting over 55-percent and averaging close to 24-points per game versus the Warriors.
The Warriors don’t have a single defensive presence to combat any of the big three, not even Dorell Wright can contain either of Wade or James. This should be a laugher if the Heat can keep Monta Ellis in check.
I predict the Heat will win 118-88.
The Sacramento Kings are 4-14 on the season.
The Kings aren’t meeting the expectations of their fans, as well as their coach. They have been far more self-destructive then the Miami Heat, yet have received little attention.
The troubles start with last season’s Rookie of the Year winner, Tyreke Evans. Evans is averaging 17-points per game and shooting 40-percent from the field.
Evans is currently nursing a ankle injury and is listed as day-to-day.
The second most noticeable problem has been the lack of production from the rookie DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins lost his starting job after his first six games.
He recently earned it back last game due to Samuel Dalembert’s injured knee.
The Sacramento Kings aren’t built to defeat a team with the talents of the Miami Heat. It’ll take a out-of-body experience by most of its team to defeat the Heat.
Expect the Heat to cap it’s road finale with a thrashing of a team that is struggling to find it’s identity.
I’m predicting a 120-78 Heat victory.
The Miami Heat are once again showing signs of the dominance people perceived they would.
Now the Heat are doing it as a more cohesive unit that seems to have figured out figured out who they are and what they want to be.
They will be undermanned with Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller out injured.
Juwan Howard and James Jones must remain healthy and productive or Chris Bosh and LeBron James will be forced to play extended minutes.
The key to this road will be how well Dwyane Wade performs. There is no coincidence that his efficient play has catapulted the Heat back to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
So Heat fans and haters can take the week off, nothing exciting will be happening with this brief road trip.
Not unless you’re the type of person who frowns upon smooth sailing.