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Sports

March 22, 2013

Heat hot at home; team record within reach

MIAMI — The streak everyone is talking about remains the NBA’s ultimate talking point, barely, after Wednesday’s escape against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena, a remarkable comeback from a 27-point deficit that now has the Miami Heat at 24 consecutive victories, nine shy of the league’s all-time record.

But when the Heat play Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena against the Detroit Pistons, their first home game in 10 days, they’ll rejoin another streak already in progress.

With 15 consecutive home victories, the Heat are three shy of matching the franchise record set from Jan. 23, 2005 to April 5, 2005 by the Dwyane Wade-Shaquille O’Neal-era Heat.

At 30-3 at AmericanAirlines Arena, the Heat are tied with the Denver Nuggets for the best home record in the league, without a home loss since Jan. 4 against the Chicago Bulls, with the other home losses on Dec. 12 against the Golden State Warriors and Dec. 6 against the New York Knicks.

Although the Heat stand tantalizingly close to the all-time overall 33-game winning streak of the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, the NBA’s all-time home streak remains a distant vision, 44 in a row by the Chicago Bulls bridging the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons.

But it is the success at home that propped up the Heat before they finally took off on what now is a 12-game road winning streak.

“Early on,” forward Shane Battier said, “our home record saved us, when we were struggling on the road. Home has always been a great source of confidence for us. When thing aren’t going well on the road, we can usually correct it during a homestand.”

The ultimate goal is homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs, with the 24-game winning streak vaulting the Heat to the league’s top record. The magic number for homecourt advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs is four, any combination of Heat victories or Indiana Pacers losses.

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