Heat host Bucks in battle of division leaders

The Miami Heat hope to have guard Dwyane Wade back in action on Wednesday night when they try to match the best start in franchise history in a meeting with the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Heat return home following a six-game, nine-day trip that began in Atlanta and ended on Saturday against the Phoenix Suns. Wade did not play in the final two games of the swing because of a sprained left foot, but Miami won both to produce a 4-2 mark on the swing.

Wade, who also missed the first game of the trip due to illness, had just six points in 29 minutes of his most recent game on Nov. 14 versus the Los Angeles Clippers as he tries to get back into a groove.

"It's a part of it. It's not ideal, but you figure out how to deal with it," Wade said of being in and out of the lineup.

There seems to stand a good chance that the 30-year-old will return to action in this game after making it through practice on Monday and Tuesday without a setback. Head coach Erik Spoelstra wouldn't commit to his guard returning to action, but Wade has been showing good signs over the past few days.

"He went through the whole practice today," Spoelstra said on Tuesday, "and it was much better, even than yesterday. He was going hard and quick. I'm encouraged by it, but we'll have to see how he feels (Wednesday)."

The Heat, and especially reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week LeBron James, responded well without Wade on Saturday. James shook off an illness of his own to net 21 points in a 97-88 victory over the Suns.

James has scored at least 20 points in each of his first 11 games this season, a new career-best, while Chris Bosh added 24 points. Udonis Haslem had six rebounds, leaving him one shy of matching Alonzo Mourning (4,807) for the most in franchise history.

"This was another game where we had to deal with a little bit of adversity," said Spoelstra. "Dwyane was still out and LeBron was clearly under the weather. We appreciate him even going and playing tonight and give us his presence. It's another gutty win and we showed some character."

Miami is now set to play four straight and 10 of its next 11 at home. It is 4-0 as the host to start the season for the first time in club history and a victory over the Bucks would match the squad's best start in franchise annals, duplicating the 1995-96 and 1999-00 teams.

The Bucks will be looking to rebound from Monday's 102-98 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. The defeat snapped Milwaukee's three-game win streak and was the first in four road games this season.

Milwaukee led by 11 with just over seven minutes to play, but made only two of its final 11 shots, turned the ball over three times in that span and did not score over the final 3:17 of the game. It missed a chance to steal a game that featured 15 ties and nine lead changes.

The Bucks committed 27 fouls to 14 by the Bobcats.

"They made the plays and we had several silly fouls," Bucks head coach Scott Skiles said. "We just weren't into the game tonight for the most part."

Monta Ellis dropped a game-high 31 points and Mike Dunleavy chipped in with 16 and four blocks for the Bucks, who have won three of their last four over the Heat and four of their past five trips to Miami.