PHILADELPHIA (SportsDirect Inc.) — The Miami Heat try to match the second-longest winning streak in franchise history when they visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.
James Johnson’s season-high 26 points led the Heat to their 13th consecutive victory Friday, a 108-99 comeback win at Brooklyn.
The improbable streak, which began when Miami was 11-30 less than a month ago, pushed a squad once considered a lock for the lottery to within a game of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. “I don’t think we’re doing a whole lot different than what we were doing at the beginning of the season,” guard Tyler Johnson, who scored 18 points Friday, told reporters.
“I think we’re just closing out games a lot better.” Miami won seven straight games decided by single digits and is 5-0 on the road during the winning streak.
It will face a 76ers squad that dropped seven of eight before a 112-111 victory over Orlando on Thursday on a T.J. McConnell bucket in the closing seconds, and will once again play without star big man Joel Embiid, who missed eight straight games with a knee injury.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Miami), CSN Philly (Philadelphia)
ABOUT THE HEAT (24-30): James Johnson is averaging 23 points and 2.5 blocked shots in the last two games and scored in double figures in seven straight while guard Goran Dragic finished with a team-high 21 points and has shot at least 50 percent from the floor in a season-high five straight games. Shooting guard Dion Waiters (ankle) missed two straight contests and is considered day-to-day. Center Hassan Whiteside erupted for 30 points and 20 rebounds in the previous meeting with Philadelphia, a 125-102 victory, but had his string of double-doubles ended at four with an eight-point, nine-rebound showing at Brooklyn.
ABOUT THE 76ERS (19-34): McConnell was the hero Thursday but rookie forward Dario Saric is emerging as a more consistent threat while Philadelphia awaits the return of Embiid. Saric scored at least 20 points in consecutive games for the first time in his young career after recording a personal-best 24 in 28 minutes off the bench versus the Magic. He is 7-for-10 from long distance in the last two contests and chipped in eight boards with three steals – tying a season high – Thursday.
1. Miami, which also had a 14-game winning streak in 2004-05, won 27 in a row during the 2012-13 season – the second-longest streak in NBA history.
2. Whiteside is shooting 65.1 percent in five games this month.
3. The Heat won six of the last seven meetings.
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