Grading Miami Heat's NBA Season-Best 17th Straight Win vs. Philadelphia 76ers

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Grading Miami Heat's NBA Season-Best 17th Straight Win vs. Philadelphia 76ers
USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat extended their franchise-best winning streak to 17 games with a 102-93 victory over the visiting Philadelphia 76ers.

With the win, the Heat (46-14) matched the Los Angeles Clippers for the longest winning streak of the 2012-13 season and they're over halfway to the all-time NBA record of 33 set by the 1971-72 Lakers.

The Heat also became the first team in the NBA to clinch a playoff berth this season.

LeBron James led Miami with 25 points and 10 rebounds and Dwyane Wade added 22 points as the Heat officially clinched a playoff spot.

But their streak appeared at least in slight jeopardy as the Heat once again sputtered out of the gate against an inferior opponent. Ultimately, though, they had too much talent for the Andrew Bynum-less 76ers (23-38) to overcome.

Early on, MVP front-runner LeBron James could do no wrong. He willed the Heat to a 28-24 lead after the first quarter despite getting next to nothing from his supporting cast.

While they did their best to keep Philly All-Star Jrue Holiday off the scoreboard (two points, 0-of-5 from the field in the first half), they couldn't keep the Sixers' supporting cast in check. Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young combined for 26 points and eight rebounds through two quarters.

After building that first-quarter lead, Miami struggled mightily in James' absence. Ray Allen poured in an efficient nine first-half points (4-of-4 from the field), but Wade and Chris Bosh looked more like volume scorers (14 points on 13 field-goal attempts in the first half).

On the strength of its 27-19 second-quarter edge, Philadelphia carried a 51-47 lead into the locker room. Miami raised its defensive intensity in the third quarter, but a pair of threes from former Heat player Dorell Wright in the final two minutes left the Sixers within one after 36 minutes.

Once the fourth quarter started, Miami ramped up its defensive effort, outscoring the Sixers, 26-18, in the final period.

The Heat haven't lost at American Airlines Arena since falling to the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 4, a streak of 13 straight victories. The Sixers, meanwhile, lost for the 11th time in their last 12 games.

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