MIAMI (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – Don’t look now but the Miami Heat are making a charge towards a playoff spot.
The Heat are all of a sudden the hottest team in the NBA and are streaking up the standings in the Eastern Conference.
The Heat will try to push their season-best winning streak to eight straight when they host the NBA-worst Brooklyn Nets on Monday.
Miami was just 11-30 and looking every bit a lottery team until ripping off the winning streak, which includes triumph over Houston, Golden State and Chicago.
“Everybody is gunning to end the streak,” Heat guard Dion Waiters told reporters after a 116-103 triumph over Detroit on Saturday. “We take it one game at a time. We don’t really look ahead and we just try to get better every day. Continue to keep working and get better as a team. When we go out there, we are not looking to keep a streak going. We are just looking to win the basketball game.”
The closest the Heat came to falling during the streak might have been at Brooklyn, where they escaped with a 109-106 win on Wednesday.
The Nets are losers of five straight and 16 of their last 17.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, YES (Brooklyn), FSN Sun (Miami)
ABOUT THE NETS (9-38): Brooklyn is last in the NBA in scoring defense, surrendering an average of 115.2 points, and let the Timberwolves shoot 51.1 percent from the field in a 129-109 loss at Minnesota on Saturday.
“I felt they dominated us,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters. “We couldn’t stop them. Physically, I thought they overwhelmed us. … I just don’t think our defense was acceptable. I didn’t think we contested shots. Our physicality was below average.”
The positive from the loss was the continued strong play of center Brook Lopez, who led the team with 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting after taking the previous game off to rest.
ABOUT THE HEAT (18-30): Miami still has a long way to climb to reach one of the top eight spots in the East but is embracing that as a goal.
“We’ve been thinking about playoffs from the beginning, but we’re taking it one game at a time,” shooting guard Wayne Ellington told reporters. “Where we are right now, we’re just trying to get better every day. We don’t want to push the envelope or jump the gun or anything like that. We’re just taking it one game at a time. We’re just trying to get better and better.”
Ellington contributed 19 points and went 5-of-7 from 3-point range in Saturday’s win over the Pistons – the sixth time during the streak that he made multiple 3-pointers.
- The Nets reportedly signed F Quincy Acy to a two-year deal on Sunday after his second 10-day contract came to an end.
- Heat SG Tyler Johnson (shoulder) sat out the last five games but is expected to return on Monday.
- Miami took three straight and eight of the last nine regular-season meetings.
(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Sports Direct Inc. contributed to this report.)