Finally, the Miami Heat have stopped treating their winning streak like it’s a pitcher’s no-hitter.
After becoming one of only seven NBA teams ever to win 19 in a row, they actually talked about the streak.
“Let’s be honest, we’re not sitting here and saying this is not something special,” LeBron James, who scored only 15 points in the Heat’s 98-81 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, said. “This is an unbelievable streak that we’re on. We’re playing great basketball. We’re winning different phases of the game. We’re winning different styles. We’ve won on the road, at home, double-overtime games, at the end of regulation games, what the case may be. I’m not going to sit here and say it’s not special. But at the same time we don’t want to get caught up in it too much.”
It’s tough not to be wrapped up in it, given that they haven’t lost in six weeks — this streak began on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 3). “You know you’re a part of history right now, but you just want to keep winning and keep it up,” Dwyane Wade, who scored 23 points said. “This team is put together to win championships, that’s what we’re measured by and that’s what we measure ourselves by … but this is a special time.”
Particularly for Wade, who is, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the first guard to score 20 points and shoot 50 percent in at least 10 straight games since Michael Jordan over an 11-game span in the 1995-96 season. From True Hoop:
During the Heat’s 19-game win streak, Wade has seen an overall increase in his scoring as well as his efficiency from the field. Wade, who was already shooting a career-high 50.8 percent from the field in his first 39 games of the season, is averaging 24.2 points on 55 percent shooting during Miami’s win streak. Five of his eight 30-point games this season have come during the win streak, including a season-high 39 points on Feb. 26 against the Sacramento Kings.
One of the primary reasons for Wade’s spike in his field goal percentage has been his aggressiveness in getting to the basket. Following offseason knee surgery, Wade lacked his usual explosiveness at the beginning of the season. But since the start of February, he is averaging 5.2 dunks and layups per game, including a season-high five dunks on March 4 against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Still, their coach, Erik Spoelstra, says he “hasn’t brought [the streak] up once.” Maybe he’s just playing it safe with a five-game road trip over the next eight days. The Heat will hit Philadelphia (tonight), Milwaukee, Toronto, Boston and Cleveland over that span. Win all the games and they’d pass all the teams except for the 1972-73 Lakers.
The inability to lose makes for a bizarre, giddy environment. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst writes that “it’s like they’re stuck in a 1980s movie montage at the moment with victories spliced together with You Tube videos, antics and inside jokes.”
“We don’t let the cameras in often to see this team but if we did we’d have a No. 1 hit show,” Wade said. “This is a great group of guys, a very fun team.”
Surveying the scene, one media member described it as “fun-loving.”
“That’s a little too much, fun-loving,” James said. “That’s like we’re kittens or something like that.”