The Miami Heat begin a six-game trip that starts with Tuesday's game against the Indiana Pacers. The remainder of the stretch features five West Coast games in eight days.
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It has been on the mind of the Miami Heat players and staff for the past several weeks.
Even when they were in the middle of a homestand, they were thinking about what was ahead. Now, it's finally here.
The Heat begin a six-game trip that starts with Tuesday's game against the Indiana Pacers. The remainder of the stretch features five West Coast games in eight days.
"Now we know what's ahead and we'll take these games one at a time," Spoelstra said. "We are looking forward to the challenge of going out West and playing some of these teams that have played very well at home. It will be a different challenge than we had the last time we were out on the road."
In all, the Heat play eight of their next 10 games on the road. The question is can they improve of their struggles away from AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat are just 7-6 on the road, including finishing 2-2 on their last trip.
The road woes were evident with losses to the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks.
"It's going to be good for us," guard Dwyane Wade said. "Our mentality, first of all, is to take it one game at a time. It's going to be a tough road trip just like every road trip. We look forward to challenges. This will be a challenge for us being out there for a while."
The Heat enter the trip having won three of four, but needed overtime to defeat the Orlando Magic and Dallas Mavericks. After being out-rebounded by 20 in Friday's loss to the Chicago Bulls, they recovered with a strong effort against the Washington Wizards.
"As a team we just have to develop who we are on the road," guard Ray Allen said. "We'll figure it out a little more on this road trip. We have to deliver our own runs, and when other teams go on runs, we have to be able to defensively come together and stop them. We're still in the fetal stages of developing that as a team because we haven't been out there (on the road) a lot."
The positive for the Heat is they are coming off a victory in which they received key contributions from players other than James, Wade and Chris Bosh. Allen and Mike Miller combined for 33 points off the bench, and Udonis Haslem grabbed a season-high 12 rebounds.
"We are going to need them," Wade said. "We have to do a better job of putting them in a position to succeed. They are going to be key for us, especially when you're going on a long road trip. You need your bench."
James added: "It is good for our team, we need it. We need everyone to contribute … We are going need everything from everyone."
The Heat face the Pacers for the first time since defeating them in the second round of last year's playoffs. Indiana has the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference despite playing without injured forward Danny Granger.
The Heat will also get their first look at Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lilliard, who is the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year. After games against the Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz, Miami then gets a rematch with the Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors are one of the three teams to defeat the Heat at home. The trip ends with a matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers.
"We're going to see where we're at right now," Bosh said. "Road trips are always a test, especially against good, quality opponents like we're about to have. It's a test to see how we're going to respond to adversity. Every game is going to be different. There are going to be a lot of high emotions. It is all about staying steady."
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