Heat-Bucks Preview

After they were mired in a rough patch and lost Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade isn't surprised the Miami Heat turned things around once Joe Johnson arrived.

Johnson will try to keep providing a lift Wednesday night when Miami goes after a sixth straight win and season series victory over the host Milwaukee Bucks.

"I'm not saying we're going to go undefeated now that Joe is here," Wade said, "but each night we go out there we're better suited with Joe here than we were before."

The Heat had won three in a row upon learning that Bosh would be sidelined indefinitely due to a blood clot in his leg. However, back-to-back losses closed a 3-4 stretch that left Atlanta knocking on the door in the Southeast Division race.

Miami responded by making a move to bolster its offense, signing Johnson on Feb. 27 after he was waived by Brooklyn. The veteran swingman has made an immediate impact, averaging 14.0 points on 60.4 percent shooting - including 8 of 12 from 3-point range - to help the Heat (37-26) win a season-high five in a row with him on board.

"That's the reason we wanted him here, because we saw him fitting in," Wade added. "You still can't replace Chris and we're not trying to replace Chris. I think Joe came at the perfect time for this team. ... Being able to add him at that time, we were playing well but we were still missing something. He's been that missing piece."

Johnson finished with 14 points and was a plus-14, raising his total to plus-72 with Miami, in Sunday's 103-98 home win over Philadelphia. Wade and Goran Dragic scored 23 apiece as Miami took both games of the home-and-home set.

The Heat are taking advantage of six-game stretch with five against teams with losing records. They can surpass last season's win total by extending their longest winning streak since running off eight in a row Feb. 11-March 3, 2014.

That would be a more difficult task without center Hassan Whiteside, who has averaged 18.0 points, 15.2 rebounds and 4.2 blocks over his last nine games. The rim protector is questionable due to a stomach illness but will make the trip.

Miami has gone 6-3 without Whiteside and 8-2 without Bosh.

Whiteside finished with 23 points and 18 rebounds in a 91-79 home loss to the Bucks (26-38) on Jan. 19 before sitting out a 107-103 win at the Bradley Center on Jan. 29 that snapped a five-game skid in this series. Wade led the way with 24 points and has seven straight 20-point efforts where he played his college ball for Marquette.

Milwaukee lost for the fifth time in seven games Monday, 100-90 at Chicago. It struggled offensively in back-to-back defeats to Oklahoma City and the Bulls, shooting a combined 38.7 percent and 10 for 37 (27.0 percent) from 3-point range.

While Milwaukee is out of the playoff hunt, Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo are playing well. Parker is scoring 21.5 per game in his last 10, Middleton is putting up 24.5 in the past six and Antetokounmpo is averaging 18.8 with 8.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists over his last 16.

Middleton had 22 points in the first meeting before Antetokounmpo had 28 points, six assists, three steals and two blocks in the second matchup.

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