The Miami Heat are on the verge of clinching home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, but it's unclear who will be on the court for their first attempt.
With their lineup likely changing from game to game until the end of the regular season, the Heat will also try to set the franchise's single-season victories record and snap the Washington Wizards' lengthy home win streak Wednesday night.
Miami (61-16) needs only one more win or a Spurs loss to guarantee a home-court edge, but it's dealing with absences from its star players. Dwyane Wade missed his fifth straight game Tuesday with a sprained ankle and a bruised knee, and Chris Bosh was out with an illness after sitting in Saturday's win over Philadelphia because of a sore knee.
The Heat, though, got LeBron James back after a three-game absence due to a strained right hamstring and he scored 28 points in a 94-83 win over Milwaukee on Tuesday.
Miami matched the 1996-97 club's record for victories in a season.
"We've done so many great things this year by just playing the game at a high level, playing for one another," James said. "Along the way, when those accolades come as far as team wins, the streak that we had, we really enjoy it."
Before that game, James said he likely won't play in all of the five remaining contests in the regular season.
"I mean, I want to play, but I'm going to go against myself for the first time in my career. No, probably about the third time in my career," he said. "I sat out a few games when we had it all locked up in Cleveland (in 2009-10) as well, to just try to use those games to get healthy."
Wade's status is also unknown for Wednesday's visit to Washington, though he will travel with the team after participating in Tuesday morning's shootaround. Bosh is not expected to make the trip to the nation's capital.
"With the minor injuries that we have with our team, everything has to be day-to-day," coach Erik Spoelstra said.
If the Wizards face a short-handed Miami squad, they'll try to use it to their advantage and match their 10-game home win streak from Dec. 13, 2006-Jan. 20, 2007. Washington (29-49) has won the past two games against the Heat at the Verizon Center, with the latest a 105-101 victory Dec. 4.
John Wall was out for that game and two subsequent losses in the series, and the Wizards are 24-21 since his return from a knee injury. He's averaged 25.2 points on 59.6 percent shooting during Washington's home winning streak.
The point guard's 33 points Tuesday were hardly enough to help the Wizards in the finale of a two-game trip as they were blown out 120-99 by New York.
Miami has done a fine job containing Wall in his last four matchups in the series, holding him to just 9.3 points per game. Wall, though, has averaged 10.0 assists.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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