The Miami Heat credit their current winning streak to increased chemistry. A four-game road trip provides them with a chance to further better those relationships.
The Heat look to win a season-high fifth straight when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night.
Miami (13-8) begins its first extended road trip of the season finally playing the way the team envisioned when it was put together in the offseason. Since calling a players-only meeting after a 106-95 loss at Dallas on Nov. 27, the Heat have won four in a row by an average of 19 points.
"We didn't cave in at the beginning of the week," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We just collectively decided 'How do we make this better?' Now we're going to embark on our first extended road trip, where it will just be us and there will be adversity out there. And hopefully, I feel we're a different team than we were a week ago."
The team is coming off an 89-77 win over Atlanta on Saturday. Chris Bosh finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds, Dwyane Wade had 26 and 10 and LeBron James added 22 points.
The Heat held an opponent under 80 points for the second time in three games. They are allowing 83.3 points during the winning streak after yielding 98.0 during a 1-4 stretch prior.
Miami hopes to further team unity during its upcoming trip, which includes three games against teams with losing records.
"Those are the best times," James said. "We can come together and do some things as a team that you can't really do too much when you're home or when you have these long homestands, because people go home to their family after practices and things like that. When we're on the road, it's just us. It's just us, and it's going to be a great opportunity."
The Heat struggled against the Bucks (7-12) last season, losing three of four and splitting two games in Milwaukee. However, James has traditionally enjoyed facing the Bucks. He's been on the winning end of 15 of the last 18 times he's played them and has averaged 29.3 points in those games.
However, Milwaukee is looking to build off the momentum of a surprising 96-85 win over Orlando on Saturday after losing seven of eight.
While the Bucks are giving up only 93.2 points per game, they entered their meeting against the Magic allowing 104.5 in the previous four contests. They looked much better defensively against an Orlando team that was without starters Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson, outrebounding the Magic 54-38 while never trailing.
Bogut missed the previous five games with back problems. He missed 11 of his 16 free-throw attempts, including eight in a row in the fourth quarter while being intentionally fouled.
However, he shot 13 of 20 from the floor and had eight offensive rebounds.
"It was definitely big for us to have Bogues back," John Salmons said. "He really set the tone for us at the beginning of the game ... Grabbing 18 boards, when we've been struggling on the rebound side, it was definitely good for us."
The Bucks had been outrebounded by an average of 11.7 boards in the previous three games, which played a big part in their defensive problems.