After his team struggled for so long, Dwyane Wade hopes the Miami Heat can continue to play the way they were heading into the All-Star break.
Elton Brand, meanwhile, would like to forget about how his Philadelphia 76ers ended the first half of the season.
Following a stellar All-Star game performance, Wade looks to lead the Heat to a third straight win for the first time in seven weeks Tuesday night in their first meeting of the season with the 76ers.
Miami (26-27) was in fifth place in the Eastern Conference in late December, but an ensuing 8-15 stretch nearly knocked the Heat out of the playoff picture altogether. However, they snapped a five-game skid with a 99-66 win over Houston last Tuesday, and followed that impressive victory by winning 94-76 at Atlanta a day later.
With his team now in a virtual tie with Chicago for seventh in the East, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra believes those two victories may have helped get the season turned around.
"It's an opportunity for us, in a matter of 48 hours, to change the momentum," he said.
The Heat, who haven't won three in a row since Dec. 23-27, shot better than 50 percent in each of the last two victories after hitting that mark just once in their previous eight games.
"We played good team basketball, so going to the break, especially with the next four games on the road after the break, coming here and getting this win hopefully will give us confidence," Wade said after the win over Atlanta.
Wade had a busy break as he finished with 28 points, 11 assists and five steals to earn MVP honors in the East's 141-139 win in Sunday's All-Star game. He isn't going to get much time to rest in the near future, as Miami's road trip takes the team to four cities in five days.
The first stop is Philadelphia, where the Heat have had little luck lately.
Miami has lost six straight and 16 of 18 there. In two losses at the Wachovia Center last season, Wade averaged 19.5 points and shot 40.0 percent, compared to scoring 54 points on 58.6 percent shooting in leading the Heat to victory in two home games against the Sixers.
Philadelphia (20-32) has mostly struggled this season, but it showed some signs of turning things around before the break.
The 76ers won a season-best five straight from Jan. 31-Feb. 9, but that run ended with a 104-93 loss at Toronto on Wednesday. Philadelphia had averaged 107.0 points on 51.7 percent shooting in its previous four games before being limited to 43.2 percent shooting against the Raptors, including 4 of 22 from 3-point range.
Brand can point to one specific reason the team struggled Wednesday. Coach Eddie Jordan went with a smaller lineup to start the second half, and Philadelphia's nine-point halftime deficit ballooned to 23. Brand was especially bitter with this coaching strategy.
"We weren't down enough to switch what we've been doing in a five-game win streak," said Brand, who was on the bench for nearly the entire third quarter. "That's what we did and we paid for it. We were down too much to fight back."
The Sixers were enjoying most of their success without Allen Iverson, but the 11-time All-Star practiced with the team Monday and expects to play in this game. Jordan did not say whether Iverson would start after he missed five games to be with his ill daughter.
"I can tell she's getting better. Once we got home, she did a lot of running around, but physical things, with her hands and her feet, I can tell something's wrong," said Iverson, who did not disclose her illness. "She's energetic and everything."