Tonight in the NBA: Heat look for 28 straight

Tonight in the NBA: Heat look for 28 straight
March 27, 2013, 1:15 pm
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The Sixers will aim to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks tonight at the Wells Fargo Center (see game preview).

The Bucks sit one spot ahead of the Sixers in the standings but have a 7½-game lead on them for the final playoff spot in the East.

With a full slate of NBA games on tonight’s schedule, here is a look at the best matchups:

Heat (56-14) at Bulls (38-31), 8 p.m.

The same question has been asked of the Heat for weeks now: Will the streak continue? Miami’s impressive run has reached 27 straight wins, but the last four have come against the four worst teams in the Eastern Conference.

After being forced to rally from second-half deficits against Boston, Cleveland and Detroit, the Heat dominated their last two games against Charlotte and Orlando without Dwyane Wade. In their 108-94 win over the Magic, LeBron James fell one rebound short of a triple-double as he finished with 24 points, 11 assists and nine boards.

Since the streak began, Miami has made nearly every team’s defense look futile, scoring over 97 points in all but one of their consecutive wins. The only team to hold the Heat under 97 points was tonight’s opponent, the Bulls. In that game on Feb. 21, Chicago allowed only four Miami players to score in double figures, but could not develop any rhythm on offense. The Bulls’ high scorer was Nate Robinson with only 14 points, as the team shot just 37.3 percent from the field. The Heat held the Bulls to under 20 points in each of the final three quarters on their way to an 86-67 win.

Chicago has performed well recently and won back-to-back games for the first time in almost a month. On Sunday, the Bulls overcame a 28-point outburst from Minnesota’s Derrick Williams to capture a 104-97 victory. Jimmy Butler had one of his best offensive games of the season for Chicago, finishing with 20 points and nine rebounds.

Grizzlies (47-23) at Knicks (43-26), 7:30 p.m.

The Knicks faced a tough test Tuesday night in Boston against the division-rival Celtics. From the opening tip, New York controlled the flow of the game on both ends of the floor.

J.R. Smith, who has been playing his best basketball of the season during the Knicks’ current five-game win streak, led the charge again with 32 points and seven rebounds. Carmelo Anthony had a poor shooting night (10 for 30) but still finished with 29 points and eight rebounds. The keys to New York’s victory were its plus-12 turnover margin and its ability to get into the paint at will. The Knicks scored exactly half of their points in the paint (50), leading to a 100-85 win.

New York was without center Tyson Chandler last night, but benefited from Kevin Garnett’s absence from the Celtics' lineup. Tonight, the Knicks may catch a similar break against the Grizzlies, who will most likely be without the services of their center, Marc Gasol.

Memphis is 1-1 in the two games Gasol has missed after falling to the Wizards, 107-94, on Monday. Mike Conley had 23 points and seven assists, but was outdone by his counterpart John Wall, who exploded for 47 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

Back on Nov. 16, the Grizzlies handed the Knicks their first loss of the young season thanks to 20 points and 15 rebounds from Zach Randolph. Anthony was the Knicks' top scorer with 20 points on 7 for 14 shooting.

Nuggets (49-23) at Spurs (53-17), 8:30 p.m.

Denver’s 15-game win streak was snapped in a puzzling loss to the lowly Hornets on Monday.

The Nuggets were behind from the start and could not slow down New Orleans point guard Brian Roberts. Roberts dished out a career-high 18 assists and Ryan Anderson added 23 points and nine rebounds to lead the Hornets to a 110-86 blow-out win. Wilson Chandler played 30 minutes in his return for Denver, but could not find his shot and finished with just 11 points on 3-for-10 shooting.

Denver was without Ty Lawson in the loss, and it doesn't sound like the starting point guard is ready to return from a sore Achilles after missing three straight games.

The Spurs also had a win streak snapped in their last game. Their modest four-game streak came to an end in Houston on Sunday in a 96-95 loss to the Rockets. San Antonio got strong performances from Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, who combined for 40 points, but were sunk by James Harden’s game-winning jumper with 4.5 seconds to go. Harden recorded 29 points, 15 of which came from the free-throw line.

After beating the Nuggets in their first matchup of the year, the Spurs were defeated by Denver, 112-106, on Dec. 18. Tim Duncan poured in 31 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, and the Spurs hit 14 threes as a team, but they could not slow down the Nuggets’ high-octane offense led by Danilo Gallinari’s 28 points.

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