Miami Heat continue to tear up the league
Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 23:03
Besides winning championships, there aren’t many things in sports that get fans as happy as a prolonged, enjoyable winning streak. Everybody, from the star players with maximum-level contracts to the random “wait, that guy’s still in the league?” fill-ins at the end of the bench that are about to see their 10-day contracts expire, is playing at the top of their game and the team has a palpable buzz about it in the city (unless that city is Miami, of course). With Miami’s evisceration at home against Indiana on Monday, the Heat have now strung together an 18-game winning streak. Only 12 teams in NBA history including Miami-have accomplished this feat since the Association was created in 1946. Two of those streaks happened during the Truman administration, when the Washington Capitols-yes, this was once an NBA franchise-rattled off 20 in a row in 1947, and then when the Rochester Royals (whoever decided putting an NBA team in Rochester was a good idea deserved to get fired) won 18 consecutive games in 1949.
More impressively, Miami became just the sixth team since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976 to win 18 games in a row. Led by the best duo in Illinois not named Michael Scofield and Lincoln Burrows, the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls captured a title and won a NBA-record 72 games when they reached 18 straight. Also winning 18 in a row was the 1981-82 Boston Celtics, keyed by your father’s Big 3-Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Chief Robert Parish.
Assuming the Heat don’t lose to the Hawks on Tuesday night, Miami will be on a 19-game winning streak, which will tie it for second-most all-time with the Shaqobe Lakers of 1999-2000, and the defending NBA champion Big 3 Celtics of 2008-09.
Only the 2007-08 Houston Rockets, led by Tracy McGrady in his final season as an explosive, all-star caliber player, reeled off more regular season victories in a row when they scored more points than the other team in 22 straight games. Interestingly enough, the Rockets didn’t even make it out of the first round of the playoffs, while any team that has won at least 19 games in a row (post-merger) has gone on to win the NBA title.
(It should also be noted that last season’s San Antonio Spurs won 10 in a row to end the regular season and then began the postseason winning 10 straight as well.)
Needless to say, sans the Rockets fluky blip on the historic NBA radar, the Heat are in pretty solid company. Miami has already clinched a playoff spot with 20 games left on the regular season schedule. Also, they are currently sitting at 47-14, nine games ahead of Indiana and New York for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Can the Heat actually break the NBA-record of 33 straight victories set by the 1971-72 Lakers?
Los Angeles was led by Hall-of-Famers Gail Goodrich, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and first-year coach Bill Sharman. Thirty-five-year-old legend Elgin Baylor hung it up nine games into the season; after the Hall-of-Famer retired, the Lakers were victorious in 33 straight games before finally falling to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 9, 1972. The Logo won his first and only NBA title in 1971-72, as his Lakers beat Knicks in five games in the finals.
Now that the little history lesson is completed, let’s take a look at Miami’s upcoming schedule and see if they can make a run at NBA folklore. They played Atlanta on Tuesday night. This column was already written by the time the teams squared off, so I’m just going to believe that the Heat won by about 15 because they’re playing at home and the Hawks are dreadful. Things get tricky after the Hawks, however, because the Heat will be playing 9 of their next eleven games on the road. They start in Philly on Wednesday night, which should be an easy victory even on the tail end of a back-to-back. If they top the Sixers, that’ll be 20 in a row.