After an incredible month, it seems like LeBron James is taking it a little bit easier in March, letting Dwyane Wade carry the offensive load, not for the first time, as the Miami Heat keep on their dominant winning ways, extending their NBA-best 19 game winning streak this season, also happening to be a franchise record.
The Atlanta Hawks weren’t trouble, not from the first moment. The Miami Heat have been beating their more serious rivals during this streak in double digit margins, this time by 17 in a 98-81 home route, making it 30-3 this season at home. During this winning streak, they’ve beaten the Hawks, Pacers, Bulls, Thunder, Blazers, Lakers and Clippers in double digits, not to mention other big wins against easier teams.
The surprising thing, however, in recent games, is Dwyane Wade outplaying LeBron James, who seems to be going through some mental exhaustion, not looking as sharp offensively as he did earlier in the streak. In the win over the Hawks, Wade led the team with 23 points, adding 6 assists and 5 steals. LeBron James finished with 15 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists on a 3-11 night from the field. James scored 13 points in the previous game, making it the first time since 2004 that he’s scored less than 15 points in two consecutive games.
Over the last ten games, Wade is averaging over three more points per game than LeBron. During this 10 game span, Wade is shooting 60% from the field while dishing 5.7 assists per game and getting 2.8 steals per game. LeBron is averaging 1.7 steals during that span while shooting 50.9% from the field. Luckily for Miami, there’s no competition going on between the two.
We’re not sitting here and saying this is not something special. This is an unbelievable streak that we’re on. We’re playing great basketball. We’re winning in different phases of the game, we’re playing different styles, we’ve won every game, on the road, at home, double-overtime games, end-of-regulation games, whatever the case may be.
Defense was the name of the game, and not for the first time. The Heat forced 22 turnovers from the Hawks, leading to 27 points and an even more impressive 27 assists on 35 made field goals, making it their second-highest assist percentage of the season, trailing a January game against the Kings in which they had an assist on 77.8% of their field goals.
Leading with our defense has been the key for us. When we come out defensive minded from the beginning of the game, it gets us into the game, it gets us on the offensive end, we’re moving the ball. We have been playing well offensively all year, but defense is the key.
If anyone thinks the target is getting some winning streak record, they’re wrong. The Heat are about securing home court advantage, not just for the East, but the league as well. The East is pretty much wrapped up, with both the Knicks and the Pacers too far away to play catch-up. The West? The Spurs seem vulnerable at the moment, as their losses, without Parker and later Duncan, could attest to, and are now 0.5 a game behind the Heat, having lost two more.