It has become almost mundane now for the Miami Heat. The NBA champions have hit their stride, winning when they do not play their best and crushing foes when they reach their apex. The results have produced an 18-game winning streak and confidence that seems unshakable.
“We just did what we’re supposed to do,” all-star guard Dwyane Wade a matter of factly. This was after Miami punished its supposed competition in the Eastern Conference, Indiana, 105-91, Sunday night.
Here’s what was particularly scary about this latest Heat barrage: Neither Wade nor reigning league MVP LeBron James were the Heat’s most effective weapon. Rather, understudy point guard Mario Chalmers was the big gun, scoring 26 points, with Chris Bosh adding 24. It is games like that – when James scores a season-low 13 points, and yet the Heat still easily handle a top opponent – that inspire images of a Miami repeat for the championship.
“That’s the thing about our team,” Chalmers said. “We can click on all cylinders.”
Wade had 23 points in another of his efficient slashing performances. In short, Miami looks virtually unbeatable. The Heat’s winning streak ties Miami for the seventh longest in NBA history, which is the league’s best since the Boston Celtics won 19 straight in November and December 2008.
Against the team many expressed could challenge Miami because of its inside strength, the Heat dominated. Their effort and tenacity seemed to break Indiana’s will – and send a message should they meet in the playoffs.
“We didn’t compete from the opening tip,” Pacer forward David West said. “I just don’t think we brought enough competitive fire. LeBron James has 13 points and these other guys – Chalmers has 26 – it’s just not enough. We didn’t compete enough. You can’t beat a team like that in their building as well as they’re playing without competing.
“Tough loss,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “Give credit to the Heat for really outplaying us.”
The Heat, who last lost on Feb. 1 to the Pacers, have the opportunity to catch the 2007-08 Houston Rockets. The Rockets won 22 straight from Jan. 29, 2008 to March 18, 2008. The Heat would have to defeat the Hawks, 76ers, Bucks and Raptors to tie the win streak. If they do go undefeated over the next four games, they will face the Celtics in Boston in March to extend the streak to 23, which would be second longest win streak in NBA history. Then they would be 10 games from tying the longest win streak in NBA history, which is 33 by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. But the Heat must face the Knicks and Bulls during that stretch and could come to an end.
However, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will likely rest his stars before the playoffs in an attempt to capture their second consecutive NBA title.