Three weeks ago, the Orlando Magic came as close as any team to breaking the Miami Heat’s winning streak. Once again, they will have a chance to stop LeBron James and Dwyane Wade’s pursuit of history.
Orlando will host Miami on Monday night as the Heat are looking to win their 27th consecutive game. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET. The contest will air on ESPN, but viewers can watch a free live stream online at espn3.com.
On March 9, Miami’s streak was almost halted at 15 games. The Magic had a one-point lead at the end of the fourth quarter, but a layup by James with 3.2 seconds remaining helped the Heat avoid an upset.
James is the leading MVP candidate in the NBA this season, averaging 26.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game. Since the beginning of the streak, he’s shot over 57 percent from the field and recorded nine double-doubles.
Wade has also lifted his play over the last two months. He’s making over 53 percent of his attempts since the Heat lost their last game.
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The star guard missed Monday’s game against the Bobcats with a sore right knee. He has been listed as a game-time decision.
Miami has one more close victory over Orlando in the 2012-2013 season. On New Year’s Eve, the Heat escaped Orlando with a 112-110 overtime win. James came two rebounds shy of a triple-double.
Despite the Magic’s tough efforts against the Heat, they’ve had trouble being competitive against the rest of the league. After a surprising start that saw the team win 12 of their first 25 games, Orlando has gone 6-39 since Dec. 21.
Injuries have hurt the Magic, who have less wins than any club, except the Charlotte Bobcats. Arron Afflalo and Nikola Vucevic are two of the team’s best players, but will likely sit out on Monday. Afflalo leads the Magic with 16.5 points a game and Vucevic if one of the NBA’s leading rebounders at 11.5 per contest.
The Heat will likely continue the offensive dominance they have displayed during their 26-game win streak. Since their last loss, the Heat have scored less than 97 points just once, which was a 19-point blowout against the Chicago Bulls.
Even though the Magic have played Miami close this year, the Heat are expected to pick up their 27th win with ease. Most Las Vegas casinos have made the Heat 12.5-point favorites.
Betting line: Miami-12.5, 198
Prediction: As shown by their near loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Heat will get the best effort of each team they face. Orlando has proven that they aren’t afraid of Miami, and could keep it close for a while. However, without two of their best players, James, Chris Bosh and possibly Wade will be no match for one of the worst teams in the league.
Predicted Score: Miami 109, Orlando 96