MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – The Miami Heat will see a familiar foe at the helm of their Tuesday night opponent.READ MORE: Shipping Issues Causing Fireworks Shortage Ahead Of July 4th Holiday
His dress shirt unbuttoned at the neck, Jason Kidd looks relaxed and calm on the sideline while coaching the Milwaukee Bucks.
At 22-22, the Bucks are enjoying success while sticking with their rebuilding blueprint during Kidd’s first year in Milwaukee. Even the playoffs are a possibility now in the mediocre Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee will try to move back above .500 by taking a third straight meeting against the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.
“We wanted to be a team, and try to create the atmosphere of playing as a team, and we’re probably a little ahead of schedule,” Kidd said when asked if the team’s first-half performance had met his expectations.
Expectations outside of Milwaukee were understandably low after Kidd took over a team with a franchise-worst 15 wins in 2013-14. The building blocks would be a pair of young forwards in Jabari Parker, the second overall pick in this year’s draft; and 6-foot-11 Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Milwaukee started a surprising 12-12 before Parker was lost for the year on Dec. 15 after tearing the ACL in his left knee.
The Bucks, though, have kept winning.
They’re 10-10 since losing Parker and head into Miami, two games up on the Heat (20-24) for sixth in the East.READ MORE: AAA Expects 2.4 Million Floridians Will Hit Road For July 4th Holiday Weekend
Kidd’s offensive philosophy means everyone gets a chance to touch the ball, and that was on display with a season-high 33 assists in Saturday’s 101-86 win over Detroit. They had four fewer the next day while falling 101-95 at San Antonio to open this three-game trip.
“We watched film and paid attention to the little details to help us get better. That’s all we can ask for as a young team, to get better,” guard O.J. Mayo said. “We kind of feel like we’re on a high horse because we’re in playoff position now, but it’s half of the season.”
The Bucks are also stingy defensively, giving up 88.9 points per game in their last 15 contests – 8.1 less than their season average.
Miami is well aware of what Milwaukee is capable of on both ends of the court. The Bucks beat the Heat 109-85 at home on Dec. 5 after winning 91-84 at Miami on Nov. 16.
The Heat are aiming for a three-game winning streak for the first time since opening the season 3-0. They won 96-84 at Chicago on Sunday behind Hassan Whiteside’s unexpected triple-double.
The reserve center set a team record and career high with 12 blocks to go with 14 points and 13 rebounds after sitting out two games with a sprained right ankle. He’s averaging 7.7 points, 6.2 boards and 2.6 blocks in 18 games – three starts – since being signed in November after bouncing around the NBA’s Developmental League, China and Lebanon.
“It’s a blessing. Like I told my teammates, you won’t believe how things work out in life,” said Whiteside, whose previous career high was five blocks. “Three months ago I was at the downtown Y just chilling, working on my game. I couldn’t get a team to pick up the phone.”
That shouldn’t be a problem in the future, as Whiteside is averaging 12.3 points on 70.4 percent shooting with 8.6 rebounds and 4.0 blocks over his last nine games.
Dwyane Wade is looking to build on his 26 points from Sunday after averaging 16.0 on 38.2 percent shooting in his first three since missing two with a hamstring injury. He scored 28 and dished out eight assists at Milwaukee in December after missing the first meeting with a strained left hamstring.MORE NEWS: Davie Man Accused Of Setting Girlfriend's Mobile Home On Fire While She Was In It
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