The Miami Heat are taking advantage of a favorable final stretch of the season to gain some momentum heading into the playoffs. Owners of the NBA’s longest current winning streak, the Heat try for a ninth consecutive victory as they host the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night. After closing February with four straight losses to fall two games under .500, Miami has won 14 of 17 and is in position to earn the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Heat clinched a playoff berth despite being idle Tuesday. During its winning stretch since the beginning of March, Miami’s 17 opponents have shot 41.5 percent and averaged 90.4 points. During the eight-game winning streak, the Heat have allowed 82.9 points per contest. The Heat are currently in the midst of a final eight-game stretch against teams that will not make the playoffs. That continues against Philadelphia, which has averaged 84.5 points in its two losses to Miami this season.
Dwyane Wade, who scored 39 points in Miami’s 97-84 win at Minnesota on Saturday, is averaging 30.8 on 56.4 percent shooting in his last five games. The All-Star had 38 points in a 104-91 home win over the 76ers on March 14. While Miami tries to continue its surge into the postseason, Philadelphia looks for anything positive down the stretch after losing its fourth in a row, 124-103 to Detroit on Tuesday.Marreese Speights scored 21 points, but the 76ers allowed the Pistons to shoot 62.7 percent – the highest by any Philadelphia opponent this season. Miami is shooting 50.3 percent in two games against the 76ers in 2009-10. After scoring a season-high 33 points in a loss to Toronto on Saturday, Philadelphia’s leading scorer Andre Iguodala was held to 12 against the Pistons. He’s averaged a mere 11.9 points in 10 career games at Miami.