The Miami Heat have tried to downplay their historic run. But not anymore.
“It’s a special ride right now that we’re on,” said LeBron James, after the Heat defeated Toronto Sunday, moving their winning streak to 22 straight, which ties the 2007-2008 Houston Rockets for the second longest run in NBA history.
“The best thing about it is we’re doing it together.”
The Heat look to advance closer to the league-best 33-game consecutive win streak set by the 1971-72 Lost Angeles Lakers when they face the Celtics tonight in Boston. Ironically, the Celtics ended the Rockets 22-game win streak five seasons ago.
“If there’s any group that would be motivated in a circumstance like this, it’s that team in green,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I don’t know if the streak will be a big factor but they love playing against us, and vice versa. That’s what happens when you meet a team consecutively in the playoffs. There’s a history there, and that’s what makes these games special.”
Special best describes what the Heat have done. Led by James and Dwyane Wade, they have blistered the league over the last month and a half. They have beaten Western Conference contenders the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Lakers. They have beaten top Eastern Conference challengers in the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks.
“You talk about a well-oiled machine,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “Those guys are efficient both offensively and defensively. They do it in a classy way. They are well put together.”
For sure, it will be hostile environment tonight in Boston, even if big man Kevin Garnett cannot play because of strained thigh.
“We have to treat them with the respect they deserve,” Spoelstra said. “Regardless of who plays them, that’s a team that will come out with an incredible amount of urgency.”
And so will the Heat, according to Wade.
“I think we’ll be ready for it,” said Wade, who finished with 24 points and nine assists against the Raptors. “We’ve got to get our rest and we’ve got to know we’re going to have a dog fight on our hands.”