Miami Heat return home to play the Milwaukee Bucks

Dec 20, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (L) high-fives Hassan Whiteside (R) in the fourth quarter against the Portland Trailblazers at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 20, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (L) high-fives Hassan Whiteside (R) in the fourth quarter against the Portland Trailblazers at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports /

Game preview for the Miami Heat vs the Milwaukee Bucks

Heat (23-18) vs Milwaukee Bucks (18-25)
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena – Miami, Flordia
When: Tuesday, January 19 at 7:30 PM ET
Watch: ALT, FS-SUN, NBA League Pass

The Miami Heat are finally back on their home turf after almost two weeks, taking on the Milwaukee Bucks for the first time this season.

Miami has been on the road for the last six games, walking away with a 2-4 record. While they started off strong, beating the Phoenix Suns 103-95, their road trip ended in a disastrous game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night; the Heat fell 99-74 after scoring the fewest points in a game so far this year and recording 19 turnovers. Of course, it did not help that Russell Westbrook walked away with another triple-double (13 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds).

The team’s West coast trip did not leave some fans with a sense of security moving forward, but Dwyane Wade saw things a little differently:

"“We knew this road trip was going to be tough. We played three of the top four Western Conference teams. I’m not worried about it. The biggest thing is hopefully, we can get guys back on the floor.”"

Unfortunately, after their Tuesday night matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks, Miami is headed back on the road for another five games, spanning until the end of the month. Here is hoping things go better for them, the second time around.

Matchup to Watch: Kris Middleton vs Dwyane Wade

The Bucks have had the last two days off. However, prior to that, they played four games in five nights, giving a chance for guard Khris Middleton to shine.

"“I’ve been in a rhythm,” said Middleton . “The coaches and the guys have let me play with the ball in my hands more and allowed me to make plays for them.”"

Middleton has been a major factor for the struggling No. 13 Eastern Conference team.

He finished the team’s Saturday night win against the Charlotte Hornets with 24 points on 11-of-16 shooting, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. He has scored 20 or more points in the last six (of seven) games, the exception being when he totaled nine assists. Middleton is currently averaging 17.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists.

The 6-foot-8 guard may have a size advantage over Wade, but lately the Heat superstar has been playing as though he discovered a fountain of youth.

Having turned 34 on Sunday, Wade scored 22 points in the loss against the Thunder. He has consistently been a key factor for the team all season, putting up 18.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists. And has only missed two games this season, after a 2014-2015 riddled with injuries.

Wade clearly has more experience than the 24-year-old, which may work in his favor on Tuesday. However, having coming off of an exhausting road trip and with a slightly banged up supporting crew, Middleton may find himself having an easier time.

X-Factor: Hassan Whiteside

With Goran Dragic out with a strained calf and Chris Bosh seemingly taking some time each game to find his rhythm, Whiteside really needs to keep stepping it up as a powerhouse on both ends of the court, for Miami.

Having been out with a knee injury earlier this month, the big man has since put his game into overdrive.

"“Every day I’m learning and I’m getting used to guys’ tendencies and what my teammates like to do,” Whiteside said. “I’m rotating better to guys and I’ve gotten good at staying down on pump-fakes and staying out of foul trouble.”"

In one of the Heat’s two wins on the road, Whiteside put up 19 points, 17 rebounds and 11 blocks. And as he very well put it, most players do not get triple-doubles on way of blocks.

The center needs to still be the defensive presence everyone knows him as, but also continue to trust in his offense in order to propel his team forward. This is especially true against a squad like Milwaukee, who is known for their size.

Key Stats:

Miami Heat offensive efficiency: 17th, 102.0 points per 100 possessions
Miami Heat defensive efficiency: 6th, 99.7 points per 100 possessions

Milwaukee Bucks offensive efficiency: 24th, 100.9 points allowed per 100 possessions
Milwaukee Bucks defensive efficiency: 20th, 101.5 points allowed per 100 possessions