Beyond the individual and team streaks and records, the Miami Heat just look more confident than anyone else in their ability, thanks mostly to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, to keep their winning form going, and more importantly defend their NBA title.
With the 102-93 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, the string of streaks continues; James is getting closer to 500 consecutive game of scoring in double figures; the Heat beat the Sixers for the 12th consecutive time, thanks to a fantastic fourth quarter instead of a 48-minute kind display; they won at home for the 13th straight time, giving them a lot to rely on given their struggles against rivals such as the Indiana Pacers on the road this season, and most importantly, at the moment at lest, their 17th consecutive win this season.
James finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists, and didn’t really take it too hard in the game. He played “only” 34 minutes, and after going to the bench with 8:02 minutes left and an 8 point lead for the Heat wasn’t needed to be called upon again. For a change, there was enough contribution from both Shane Battier (11 points) and Ray Allen (12 points) at once, giving the Heat a chance to make the weekend a tad bit easier for their superstar.
With the atmosphere here in Miami and with what we had on the line with the streak that everybody outside is probably tired of hearing about, we knew they were going to play very well. We were able to work the game, work the game, until we were able to pull away.
There were a few “special” achievements attached to Wade’s night, scoring 22 points. It was the 450th Heat home game, including playoffs, since Wade was drafted in 2003. The Heat have won 315 of those games, making their home record with Wade exactly 70%. With 3 steals, Wade is now on a streak of 21 straight games with at least one steal. It’s not the longest ongoing streak in the NBA at the moment (James Harden has that one), but it’s the longest of his career.
Numbers aren’t an accurate way of predicting the future, but by combining them with some of the past’s occurrences maybe we can get a clearer picture. The Boston Celtics own the record for longest winning streak as a defending champion, winning 19 games in the 2008-2009 season. However, they didn’t end up with the title that year, mostly due to injuries in hindsight. The Heat now have 17. The only defending champion to win 17 consecutive games and retain the NBA title were the Boston Celtics in 1960. Means anything? Probably not, but gives some sort of indication that a huge win streak usually doesn’t correlate with a team actually grabbing the NBA title at the end of the road.
It has a lot more to do with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade not burning themselves out in order to pursue a meaningless NBA record, or something close to that. It’s about home advantage, and gearing up to be in the best shape as possible right before the playoffs. The Heat have now clinched that postseason spot with 22 games to go, the fastest ever for the franchise. Maybe it’s time to take it easy on their best players as the end of the season turns closer and closer.