MIAMI (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – Streaks are nice, but the Miami Heat know that reaching the postseason is the main goal.
The Heat’s run of consecutive wins finally came to an end on Saturday in the finale of a four-game road trip, but the team is still feeling good about itself with two games leading into the All-Star break.
The Heat will try to return to the win column and continue the climb up the standings when they host the struggling Orlando Magic on Monday.
Playing shorthanded on the second night of a back-to-back at the end of a road trip finally got to Miami, which surged from 14th in the East to contender for a playoff spot over the last four weeks.
“We just stacked games on top of each other, trying to get ourselves in a playoff position,” Heat center Hassan Whiteside, who watched the 76ers celebrate after the game, told reporters. “That’s what it really was. You take [the celebrating] as a compliment. They had a championship celebration over there after they won. What can you do? They won the game.”
Miami should be in line for its 14th win in 15 games against the Magic, who dropped their last four games and are coming off a 112-80 beat down in Dallas on Saturday.
“The performance that we put out there [Saturday] was an embarrassment,” center Nikola Vucevic told reporters. “We should all be ashamed of ourselves to play the way we did. Effort-wise, the type of basketball and the way we play, it’s just very bad.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Florida (Orlando), FSN Sun (Miami)
ABOUT THE MAGIC (20-36): The tone and substance of Vucevic’s comments are familiar of late, as three of the last four losses came by at least 24 points.
“It’s bad, man, and it’s shocking,” guard Evan Fournier told reporters. “I guess we’ve just got to play with more heart and pride. Because teams are not going to feel bad for us. People are just going to go at you every night and if we don’t change our mindset, then it’s just going to be the same thing every night.”
Orlando is allowing an average of 116.3 points over the last four games and dropped into 14th place in the East, with only the NBA-worst Brooklyn Nets (9-45) keeping it out of the basement.
ABOUT THE HEAT (24-31): Miami can give the Magic a quick look at how quickly fortunes can change in the NBA but needs to clean some things up after committing 20 turnovers in Saturday’s loss while totaling 15 assists.
“The scoring [Saturday] was happening in a different way than the habits we’ve been building for the last few weeks, more one-on-one, a lot more individual efforts to get baskets rather than sharing the game and making the game easier for each other,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters.
Shooting guard Dion Waiters was a huge part of the winning streak but sat out the last three games of the road trip with an ankle injury and is day-to-day.
- Heat PF James Johnson scored 20 or more points in each of the last three games and is averaging 24 points in that span.
- Magic PF Aaron Gordon (foot) sat out the last two games and is questionable for Monday.
- The Southeast Division rivals split the first two meetings this season, with Orlando earning a 136-130 double-overtime win in its last trip to Miami on Dec. 20.
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