MIAMI (AP) – Six weeks ago, the Miami Heat used a second-half surge to bounce back from a loss and beat the Toronto Raptors for the 10th straight time.
They haven’t stopped winning since.
Looking to match the second-longest winning streak in NBA history with their 22nd straight victory, the Heat return to where their historic run began Sunday at the Air Canada Centre.
Two days after Miami (50-14) lost 102-89 at Indiana on Feb. 1, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade combined for 81 points to help overcome a six-point halftime deficit and win 100-85 at Toronto on Super Bowl Sunday. It was a more convincing showing than the Heat’s 123-116 overtime home win over the Raptors (26-40) on Jan. 23, and it proved to be the start of a remarkable run.
Following the victory, the Heat watched the Super Bowl and bonded.
“I think the biggest thing for our team was watching the Super Bowl and getting away from basketball in a sense and just enjoying each other,” Wade said. “We got the famous speech from (teammate) Shane Battier and we’ve been rolling ever since.”
Though details are sketchy, Battier’s speech was apparently inspirational.
“You had to be there,” Bosh said. “It was after watching the Super Bowl. It was a good game, we had a great time. I guess the main focus was that you’re going to miss me when I’m gone.”
“It was not so much about him. He tied in everything. He tied in life to the Super Bowl. It was just everything. It was a good time.”
The good times keep coming for the Heat, who surpassed the 1970-71 Bucks’ run of 20 straight wins, fittingly, with a 107-94 win at Milwaukee on Friday.
Averaging 105.3 points on 50.8 percent shooting while allowing 93.9 over the past 21 contests, Miami is one victory away from equaling Houston’s 22-game run from 2007-08. The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers hold the record with 33 consecutive victories.
“You have to enjoy it,” said Bosh, who had 28 points on 12-of-16 shooting Friday. “We don’t want to be in a position where we’re not and then we look back and say, `I wish we would have done this.
I wish we would have done that.’ We’re having a blast together, which is most important.
“To put some wins together, to have a chance at winning an NBA title and defending an NBA title is very special.”
The Heat got a scare Friday when Wade briefly left with a neck strain after crashing to the floor early in the contest. He returned and finished with 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to help Miami to a ninth straight road victory.
Wade has averaged 25.3 points on 58.2 percent shooting over the last 12 games, and 31.9 in his last nine at Toronto. James, meanwhile, has scored 29.4 per contest and shot 56.6 percent in his last seven in the series.
Since leaving the Raptors for Miami in 2010, Bosh has averaged 27.7 points on 30-of-53 shooting (56.6 percent) in three visits to Toronto. The Raptors have dropped four straight at home to the Heat by an average of 13.3 points.
Rudy Gay scored 28 while Amir Johnson added 12 and a career-high 21 rebounds as Toronto beat NBA-worst Charlotte 92-78 on Friday for its third win in five games since a five-game slide.
The Raptors prevailed despite 20 turnovers, but they know things will be much tougher against the league’s leading team Sunday.
“If we have 20 turnovers on Sunday, then it will be 40 points (for Miami),” coach Dwane Casey said.
Gay scored 29 against the Heat last month in his second game with Toronto after arriving from Memphis.
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