Ranking Miami Heat 27-Game Win Streak Among NBA's Best of All Time
All good things must come to an end, and the Miami Heat's blistering 27-game winning streak was no exception.
After posting almost two months of blemish-free basketball, the Heat finally came back to earth after a 101-97 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night. With no shortage of superlatives to describe that torrid stretch, Miami's 27-game run can perhaps be best summed up in one word: dominant.
During their run, the Heat bullied their opponents to the tune of an average margin of victory of 11.9 points. If they were among the championship contenders before the wins began piling up, they stood alone as championship favorites by the time it was finished.
Prolonged success like this is obviously a measure of the team's overall performance. Still, there were some individual players that managed to rise above the rest.
LeBron James wrapped up the MVP voting process with his trademark versatility impacting each one of those wins in a different way. Dwyane Wade continued serving crow to the detractors that praised him one minute for giving James the key to the franchise, then later called the move a sure sign that the 31-year-old's best days were behind him.
While this spurt has pushed the Heat clear of their contemporaries, where does it stand in comparison to the best winning streaks the league has ever seen?
6. 2008-09 Boston Celtics
Number of wins: 19
Streak started: Nov. 15, 2008
Streak ended: Dec. 25, 2008
It was year two for the Boston Celtics' own "Big Three" and the trio appeared to pick up right where they had left off with the previous season's championship surge.
The Celtics started off with eight wins in their first 10 games before a five-point overtime win over the Milwaukee Bucks sparked a 19-game surge in which the Celtics defeated their opponents by a 12.7-point average margin of victory.
With a trio of aging veterans basking in their chance to redefine their individual careers, the Celtics may have placed too great of a focus on regular-season success. A Christmas Day rivalry showdown with the Lakers ended the streak and the Celtics followed their successful span with seven losses in their next nine games.
They still finished the year with an impressive 62-20 mark, but lost a heartbreaking seven-game series to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
5. 1999-2000 Los Angeles Lakers
Number of wins: 19
Streak started: Feb. 4, 2000
Streak ended: March 16, 2000
First-year Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson was no stranger to success. He arrived in L.A. with nearly two handfuls of championship rings—two from his playing days and six from his tenure with the Chicago Bulls.
Still, this 19-game winning streak was unlike anything Jackson had ever witnessed before.
The Lakers opened their hot stretch with a bang, obliterating the Utah Jazz by an astounding 46 points. Before their run would come to an end, they would add another 11 double-digit victories to their resume.
Then-21-year-old Kobe Bryant hadn't yet reached alpha-dog status, although his season averages of 22.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists suggested he was well on his way. But this team belonged to Shaquille O'Neal, as the "Diesel" amassed 29.7 points, 13.6 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in what was the first of three straight championship seasons for the Purple and Gold.
4. 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks
Number of wins: 20
Streak started: Feb. 6, 1971
Streak ended: March 9, 1971
In just the third year of the franchise's existence, the organization balanced the old and the new en route to reaching a level of success not since reached by a Bucks ballclub.
Sophomore Lew Alcindor (now known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) managed to hold off veteran newcomer Oscar Robertson for control of the team. Alcindor finished the season with 31.7 points and 16.0 rebounds, leaving the 32-year-old Robertson's 19.4 points, 8.2 assists and 5.7 rebounds as the ultimate crutch.
Before Milwaukee embarked on its 20-game winning streak near the end of the season, it had already tallied two streaks of at least 10 games. The Bucks closed the season with five losses in their last six games, but lost just two postseason games en route to the franchise's first (and only) NBA championship.
3. 2007-08 Houston Rockets
Number of wins: 22
Streak started: Jan. 29, 2008
Streak ended: March 18, 2008
Houston's talented twosome combined for 43.6 points, 15.9 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game as the Rockets finally appeared ready to clear the first-round hurdle they had yet to pass in McGrady and Yao's first three seasons together.
A 111-107 win over the Golden State Warriors to close out the month of January gave way to a perfect 13-0 February record. The streak carried well into March, but did so without Yao, who had suffered a stress fracture in his left foot that cost him the remainder of the season.
The Rockets finished the year strong without their intimidating interior presence, but their playoff run lasted all of six games in what would be yet another first-round exit.
2. 2012-13 Miami Heat
Number of wins: 27
Streak started: Feb. 3, 2013
Streak ended: March 27, 2013
Before the Heat put together the most one-sided stretch of basketball the NBA had seen in five years, there were talks of complacency surrounding the defending champions. Although they never looked bad enough to erase hopes of a championship repeat, they weren't intimidating enough to erase those hopes from their competition.
Well, up until the beginning of February that is.
The Heat left a double-digit gap between themselves and their opponents 17 times during their successful run. They shot over 50 percent from the field and better than 40 percent from three during the streak.
They held opponents to just 93.4 points per game even with a marathon 141-129 double-overtime victory over the Sacramento Kings. And the defensive-minded approach of coach Erik Spoelstra didn't keep the club from averaging 105.3 points per game over that stretch.
With LeBron James looking to bolster his growing resume through multiple championships, regular-season achievements take a back seat to postseason success.
Of course, when those regular-season accomplishments look as dominant as this, it certainly appears to be a precursor to postseason success.
1. 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers
Number of wins: 33
Streak started: Nov. 5, 1971
Streak ended: Jan. 9, 1972
Despite the retirement of Laker legend Elgin Baylor just nine games into the season, L.A. still employed one of the most star-studded rosters in the business.
A 35-year-old Wilt Chamberlain was a shadow of his former self. The good news for Laker fans was that it only meant the big man would finish the season with averages of 14.8 points and 19.2 rebounds. L.A.'s perimeter attack (Jerry West, Gail Goodrich and Jim McMillian) led the charge, with the trio pouring in better than 70 points per game.
Interestingly, the Lakers' streak started the game after Baylor's retirement. They toyed with their opponents, winning the 33 games by an average margin of 16 points while putting up a ridiculous 123.3 points per game over that stretch.
They would go on to add three more winning streaks of at least five games before the end of the regular season. A 12-3 postseason record earned the Lakers their first NBA championship since leaving Minneapolis in 1960.