Miami Heat look to cool down hot Denver Nuggets

Jan 15, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Gary Harris (14) attempts a shot against Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) while guard Beno Udrih (19) and guard Tyler Johnson (8) and forward Luol Deng (9) look on in the fourth quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Heat defeated the Nuggets 98-95. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 15, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Gary Harris (14) attempts a shot against Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) while guard Beno Udrih (19) and guard Tyler Johnson (8) and forward Luol Deng (9) look on in the fourth quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Heat defeated the Nuggets 98-95. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /
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Heat-Nuggets Preview

Heat (38-28) vs Nuggets (28-38)
Where: Miami, FL
When: Monday, March 14, 7:30 PM ET
TV/Radio: FS-SUN/790 AM

The Miami Heat have slipped after going 1-2 during a three-game road trip, and will look to right the ship against a streaking Denver Nuggets team that enters Monday’s game on a 5-1 stretch.

Things could be made difficult for the Heat, as Dwyane Wade is a game-time decision with a thigh bruise that could keep him out for the second straight game.

More heat: Dwyane Wade not rushing back with thigh bruise

With the addition of Joe Johnson, the leadership of Goran Dragic and the revolution of Josh Richardson, Miami has found something on offense that looks sustainable. The Heat have scored more than 100 points in seven-straight games. However, it’s the defense that has struggled, allowing 114 and 112 points in two of the last three games.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets enter Monday night scoring more than 100 points in the last six games. Rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay has been impressive in March, averaging 19.7 points on 45.7 percent shooting and 5.7 assists in six games this month.

Even though the Heat stumbled on that road trip, they have won five of their last six at home. Monday’s game is the first of a three-game homestand.

Matchup to watch: Justise Winslow/Joe Johnson vs Gary Harris

It’s unclear who will guard Gary Harris should Wade miss Monday’s game, but it’ll likely be the combination of Justise Winslow and Johnson. Winslow started in Wade’s place against the Toronto Raptors Saturday and started on Toronto’s 2-guard DeMar DeRozan, but Johnson defended DeRozan in the fourth quarter.

Either way, they’ll have their hands full with Harris, who has scored double-digit points in nine straight games and is a threatening 3-point shooter.

X-Factor: Hassan Whiteside

Hassan Whiteside has recorded a double-double in four straight games, but struggled to put his footprint on the game in Miami’s loss to the Raptors. Toronto used its big men to keep Whiteside out of position, and weren’t shy in swarming him once he had the ball.

The Heat will need more from Whiteside, whose spark off the bench has been a major factor in Miami’s home games.

Key Stats:

Miami Heat offensive efficiency: 21st, 102.6 points per 100 possessions
Miami Heat defensive efficiency: 5th, 100.5 points allowed per 100 possessions

Denver Nuggets offensive efficiency: 17th, 102.8 points per 100 possessions
Denver Nuggets defensive efficiency: 21st, 105.3 points allowed per 100 possessions