Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Every athlete dreams of leaving a legacy that will be remembered for decades. The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers did that by winning 33 games in a row. Now, the Miami Heat are looking to top that Lakers team during a run they hope culminates with another NBA Championship.
With Miami’s hard fought victory over the Boston Celtics Monday night, the Heat have reeled off 23 straight victories, leaving them just 10 victories short of the all-time longest streak held by the aforementioned Lakers.
The Miami Heat is simply the best team in the National Basketball Association right now. But that’s still not enough for a team that is finally clicking in a manner that the rest of the NBA feared when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh joined forces in South Florida.
The Heat are currently 52-14, a .788 winning percentage, on the season and an incredible 30-3 at home this year. In Eastern Conference play, the Heat have reeled off a 29-9 mark and are 22-11 on the road.
The game against Boston Monday night was typical of how the Heat have a never say die attitude. The Heat were down at one point by 13 points and rallied behind the phenomenal play of LeBron to win 105-103.
James, who is the unquestioned most valuable player in the league, scored 13 of his 37 points during the Heat’s march back to beat Boston. For the season, James is averaging 26.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game. In addition he’s shooting an unheard of 56 percent from the field this year.
Since joining the Heat before the 2010-2011 season, James has steadily increased his shooting from 51 percent to his current clip of 56 percent. He’s also increased his three-point shooting accuracy from 33 percent his first season in Miami to 39 percent this year.
But it’s more than just the ironman that is LeBron that is contributing to the streak. Wade has been rejuvenated and is playing some of his basketball in the past several years. This year, Wade is averaging 21.7 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assist per game.
Both Wade and Bosh are shooting over 50 percent from the field and overall, the team as a whole is shooting .496 from the field and averaging 103.5 points per game.
The good news for Miami is the schedule eases up a little over the next few games with contests against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Bobcats, and the Orlando Magic. Miami should easily defeat all of those teams.
The word should was used because Miami faces something very few teams will ever face. Every time Miami steps on the court, they are facing a team that is playing like it’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Every team wants to be the one to stop the streak and claim that place in history.
The biggest threats between Miami and the record should be in what would be game 28 of the streak against the Chicago Bulls and then game 30 of the streak which would be in San Antonio against the Western Conference leading Spurs followed by a home game against the New York Knicks.
No one knows if the Heat will make it that far. The streak will eventually end on a night when no one expects the Heat to lose, like against a Cavaliers or Magic team.
Still, the Heat is carving its place in NBA history with the second-longest winning streak in league history. Everything else going forward will be about cementing that legacy and keeping the Larry O’Brien trophy in Miami for at least another year.