ATLANTA -- During the first few months of the season, the Heat traded difficult road victories with letdown losses. With about two months until the playoffs, playing consistently on the road is one of the Heat’s top priorities for the unofficial second half of the season.
The Heat sprinkled in a couple quality road wins during the first half of the season and went into the All-Star break with an impressive performance at Oklahoma City. But for every victory on the road against the Thunder or Denver Nuggets, the Heat also managed to drop games to inferior competition such as Detroit, Washington and Milwaukee.
Entering Wednesday’s game in Atlanta, the Heat was 13-11 on the road. Dwyane Wade chalked up the uncharacteristic losses early on to a lack of energy. He hopes that changes, beginning with the team’s current road trip. The Heat plays the Bulls on Thursday and the 76ers on Saturday.
“Our energy has been a little different [on the road], but in the second half of the season we just want to be a better road team in the sense of winning ball games and doing what we need to do,” Wade said.
For Wade, the best approach on the road is to limit opponents’ momentum.
“I think one thing we’ve done wrong on the road is let too many big runs go — 16-0 runs, 21-1 runs — things we don’t do at home,” Wade said. “So we need to do a better job of controlling it when teams go on a run and not let it go too big.”
The Heat has had no problem finding energy and motivation for home games and games against teams from the Western Conference. At AmericanAirlines Arena, the Heat is 23-3. Against the West, the Heat is 20-5.
But a touch of apathy has seeped into visiting locker rooms, especially those of Eastern Conference opponents. Before Wednesday, the Heat was a surprising 5-7 on the road against teams in its own conference.
“It’s the consistency on the road,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We’ve proven we can win in any building at any time, but can we sustain it? That’s the biggest question.”
For Spoelstra, doing well on the road is about preparing for the playoffs. Consistently playing with focused intent on nightly basis can only help come late April.
“Winning the title last year, everybody is ready to play and it is the game of the year.,” Spoelstra said. “They all circle it on the calendar. We take that challenge.”
Don’t bother with any conspiracy theories at the trade deadline, Spoelstra said. Mike Miller didn’t travel with the Heat to Atlanta because of an ear infection.
Spoelstra said Miller did not travel with the team because of the danger of flying with an infected ear.
Asked directly whether Miller could be traded, Spoelstra said “no.”