Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat extended its winning streak Monday night with a 108-94 victory over the Orlando Magic. The victory pushed the winning streak to 27 straight games or one-third of the NBA season.
That’s right, the Heat have gone for one-third of the NBA regular season without losing a game. If that’s not enough, there has only been one other team in NBA history to pull off such a streak, the Los Angeles Lakers more than 40 years ago.
It hasn’t mattered which team has been in the way, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles Lakers or Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers, or the woeful Charlotte Bobcats, Miami has continued to mow down opponents at a record clip.
The Heat had a few easy games against Charlotte and an injury-riddled Magic team before three of the tougher games remaining on the path to 33 straight wins.
Miami travels to Chicago for a game against the Bulls Wednesday night and then will play the New Orleans Hornets on the road. The Hornets just ended the Denver Nuggets’ long winning streak earlier in the week.
If Miami can get past Chicago and New Orleans, the biggest matchup will be this Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio. The question is, what will it take to stop the runaway freight train the Heat has become.
When LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh came together in Miami, many feared what the team could become if all three were healthy and on the same page on both ends of the floor. Once LeBron got comfortable and took over the team last season, things have fallen into place.
After coasting through parts of the early regular season, Miami lost to Indiana on the road on the first day of February. Since then, LeBron has elevated his game to another level and taken everyone on the Heat’s roster with him.
The Heat team has veterans comfortable in their role on the team like Shane Battier, Ray Allen, and Chris Andersen. All are ultimate team players, like James, Wade, and Bosh, who are more than willing to sacrifice personal statistics for the greater good of the team.
“That is what this team is built around,” James said, being generous, of course, since this team is built around him and Wade and fellow All-Star Chris Bosh. “A lot of depth and veterans, guys that know that when someone is out then guys are going to be able to step in. That feeling that D-Wade was out was like, ‘okay, now it’s time for someone to step up,’ which we know we are capable of doing so.”
With Dwyane Wade out, LeBron has scored 56 points and dished out 21 assists in the last two games against Charlotte and Orlando. The Heat have moved the ball almost effortlessly and defensively are swarming to the ball as has been the norm since Pat Riley took over the franchise.
Thanks to the Heat’s streak, the team has increased its winning percentage to .800 this season and have built a comfortable 12.5 game lead over Indiana in the Eastern Conference race for the best record. Miami has also become just about unbeatable at home and especially in the division.
The Heat is 32-3 at home and 12-1 against the Southeast Division, which the team clinched a long time ago. The juggernaut will likely have unintended consequences as well with teams not wanting to play Miami in the first or second round of the playoffs.
Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told NBA.com it’s all about keeping things in perspective and not trying to get ahead of yourself.
“That’s the most dangerous thing you can do, not only in pro sports, but in life. You start living ahead of an unknowable future when the most important time is the present time, right now,” Spoelstra said. “We’re not trying to take this for granted. It’s a special opportunity for this group, but you honor this opportunity by staying in the moment.”
More than anything, LeBron and company are having fun. This is on display almost every night when someone gets videobombed by one of the Big Three during an interview with Sun Sports’ Jason Jackson after the game.
Here’s a good example from last night’s game:
Regardless of the goofiness the Heat players can enjoy, they know that first they have to take care of business on the court. Twenty-seven games have gone by since the Heat last lost and Chicago will give Miami its best shot on Wednesday night.
The Heat are six games away from tying the all-time record with 33 straight victories. Regardless of whether the Heat achieves that mark or not, they have etched a place in history. But the bigger prize of a second-straight NBA championship is the ultimate goal and what will keep the Heat playing at the highest level for the rest of the season.