MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat will wrap up its record-setting regular season Wednesday night at home against the Orlando Magic.
The Heat set a team-record with at least 65 victories this season, with victory number 66 possible against a Magic team that could be playing for the highest chance of winning the NBA Draft lottery in a few weeks.
If Orlando loses and Charlotte beats Cleveland, then the Magic will have a 25 percent chance of winning the draft lottery this year. On the flip side, the Heat have clinched the best record in the NBA, are the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and have home court advantage through the NBA Finals.
It’s been a special season across the board for the Heat. The team will likely have a back-to-back MVP winner in LeBron James and arguably have the coach of the year, Erik Spoelstra. James has averaged 26.8 points, 8 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and 1.7 steals per game all while shooting 56.5 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from behind the three point line.
All Spoelstra has done is further refine an offense that maximizes the talents of James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh along with role players like Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, Norris Cole, and Chris Andersen. Coach Spoelstra has helped lead the team to a 27-game winning streak along with 65 overall wins.
But it’s been about more than just LeBron James. Dwyane Wade has been revitalized in his role with the team while scoring 21.2 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1.9 steals on 52 percent shooting from the field. Bosh has added 16.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game all while shooting 54 percent from the field.
Beyond the Big Three, Ray Allen has been the quintessential dagger in the heart of many opponents. Just when they think they have stopped James, Wade, or Bosh, the ball goes out to Allen who drains a three-point shot.
On the year, Allen has averaged 10.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game while shooting 44 percent from the field and 42 percent from behind the three-point line. But believe it or not, Allen isn’t even leading the Heat in three-point shooting.
Heat forward Shane Battier has shot 43 percent from three-point land, which coincidentally is better than he shoots from the field overall. Battier has also been a defensive stopper who has helped key the Heat’s stifling defense in the second half of the season.
Arguably the Heat’s biggest addition and contributor came after the season started. The Heat initially didn’t sign power forward/center Chris Andersen, but once the team did, everything started clicking for Miami.
Since Andersen joined the team, Miami has reeled off a 37-3 record even though Andersen is not a starter and averaged roughly 15 minutes a game this year. Andersen has shot 58 percent from the field and pulls down 4 rebounds per game, but also lightens the load on Bosh down low.
And that’s been the story of the Heat’s regular season, everyone working together to achieve the singular goal of winning a second-straight NBA championship. From LeBron through Joel Anthony, each player has given the team exactly what it needed when it was needed.
It’s been the type of team pundits have asked for in columns for years: a team of superstars putting ego aside to be part of the team, all working for one goal, a championship.
But, it’s not going to be easy for the Heat once the playoffs start. Miami will likely easily move past the Milwaukee Bucks and then face the winner of the Brooklyn Nets vs. Chicago Bulls series. The Bulls always play the Heat tough and were the team that ended its 27-game winning streak.
Moving past the Bulls, the Heat could face another thorn in its side in the Conference Finals, the New York Knicks. The Knicks took the season series from the Heat this year and have confidence heading into the playoffs that they can and will knock out the Heat.
But, the Heat will finish off the regular season first on Wednesday night and then turn its complete attention to the Milwaukee Bucks.