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Miami at Milwaukee

Venue: BMO Harris Bradley Center
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Lesser teams have caused the Miami Heat some trouble lately during their astounding winning streak. The Milwaukee Bucks are clearly inferior, but they've given the Heat all they could handle over the past two years.

The Heat look to break a tie with the Bucks for the third-longest win streak in NBA history as they head to the Bradley Center seeking a 21st consecutive victory Friday night.

"I mean, that's a fourth of the season that we've won in a row," LeBron James said. "We should all be blessed to be in this position, be honored to part of such a great team."

His team's next contest could be a first-round playoff preview, considering Miami has built a 9 1/2-game lead atop the Eastern Conference while Milwaukee has an eight-game cushion for the No. 8 seed. Some might think a sweep would be a strong possibility if that series happens; after all, while the league-best Heat have not lost in their last 20 games, the Bucks are 8-12 in theirs and would fall to .500 with a loss Friday.

However, Miami (49-14) has lost four of the teams' six meetings since April 2011, and one of its wins came at home in overtime - 113-106 on Nov. 21. The Bucks (32-31) evened the season series with a 104-85 home victory Dec. 29.

Teams well below them in the standings have continued to give the Heat problems even though their win streak is now just the fourth ever to reach 20 in a single season. That's the same streak the 1970-71 Bucks had, and the only teams with longer ones were the 1971-72 Lakers (33) and the 2007-08 Houston Rockets (22).

"Throughout this whole streak and throughout this season, we've just been resilient. We've been able to win all types of games," James said after scoring 27 points in a 98-94 victory at Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Miami blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of that game, five days after trailing early in the fourth against the last-place 76ers.

That 102-93 win came a night after the Heat needed James' late layup to beat Orlando, which owns the league's second-worst record. Miami also struggled to win home games against two of NBA's worst teams to close February, going two overtimes to defeat Sacramento after trailing in the final minutes against Cleveland.

"We don't panic no matter what's going on in the game. When you have a streak like this, you have to have some luck," said James, 11 for 30 from the field over the past two games after shooting at least 50 percent in 19 of 20.

Dwyane Wade, though, has found his groove in the latter half of the win streak. He's scored at least 20 points in a season-high 11 consecutive games, shooting 59.1 percent.

"Win 20 games in a row, it's awesome," Wade said. "You can't get around it. We're going to try to go for the next one."

That one comes against a Milwaukee team coming off back-to-back losses following a 6-1 stretch.

Brandon Jennings has totaled 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting in those defeats, but he's keyed the Bucks' success versus Miami with 22.0 points per meeting in the past five. He's averaging a league-best 11.6 assists in March.

Monta Ellis has gotten hot, averaging 26.8 points and 7.4 assists over the last nine games. However, he's totaled 23 points on 10-of-34 shooting in the season series with Miami.

His 26 points couldn't prevent the Bucks from falling 106-93 at Washington on Wednesday to drop 2 1/2 games behind seventh place in the East.

"We haven't secured anything," said J.J. Redick, who scored 16 points. "To me, I'm not going to be happy if we end up with the eight seed."

Milwaukee is giving up a league-worst 109.4 points per game this month, compared to 90.0 by Miami as defense has keyed the streak continuing.

The Heat are scoring an East-leading 103.3 per game this season but have surpassed that mark only once in eight March games.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Game Odds
AwayLineHomeLine
Miami -6 Milwaukee 6
Standings
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Miami1st Southeast 5428.65904-6Lost 3
Milwaukee5th Central 1567.183411-9Lost 3

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Injuries
Miami
PlayerInjury
J McRobertsToe
Milwaukee
PlayerInjury
L SandersSuspension
 
Key Players
LeBron<br>James
LeBron
James
, SF
38.3 Min. Per Game 37.4 Brandon<br>Jennings
Brandon
Jennings
, PG
26.5 Pts. Per Game 18.2
7.1 Ast. Per Game 6.7
8.1 Reb. Per Game 3.3
55.7 Field Goal % 40.4
39.7 Three Point % 37.9
75.1 Free Throw % 82.1
 
Team Rankings
TeamRankPoints
Miami Heat295.77
Milwaukee Bucks1682.05
 
Series Game Log
DateLocationResults
Nov 8Milwaukee 
Mar 14 @ Memphis 
 
Other Games
LAL 99 Final
Ind 93
NO 87 Final
Wash 96
Char 78 Final
Tor 92
Pho 94 Final
Atl 107
Min 100 Final
Hou 108
Orl 104 Final
OKC 117
Cle 86 Final
Dal 96
Mem 80 Final
Den 87
Chi 113 Final
GS 95