5 Best Wins of Miami Heat's 20-Game Winning Streak
There's no way to put together a string like that without gutting out a few nail-biters, benefiting from some occasional luck and logging a handful of signature victories.
It's hard to know how much longer the Heat will keep this thing rolling, but now that they've officially cracked the 20-win barrier, it seems like a good time to look back through the wins that are already on the ledger to pick out the five best.
Orlando Magic fans are advised to quietly move on without reading any further.
5. The Second One
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You can't have a winning streak without picking up at least two in a row. Obvious as that may seem, the second win in the Heat's run of 20 was actually a pretty darn good one.
LeBron James logged 31 points on 13-of-14 shooting in a 99-94 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Feb. 4, and as it turns out, James had a pretty nice month of February. This game wasn't the catalyst for the King's personal streak of brilliance, but the ridiculous efficiency he showed was the common thread that ran through his torrid February.
It was just a five-point victory over the league's worst team, but this win was technically where the streak started. Toss in James' efficient night, and you've got a top-five win.
4. Sweeping the Season Series with OKC
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Win No. 7 in Miami's streak was a big one. Thanks to 39 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists from LeBron James, the Heat secured a season sweep over the Oklahoma City Thunder with a 110-100 victory in Oklahoma City on Feb. 14.
Kevin Durant scored 40 of his own, and the Thunder tried to rally in the fourth quarter, but the Heat had built such a massive advantage in the early going that OKC simply couldn't muster a comeback.
All wins are not created equal, and by soundly beating the team they faced in the 2012 NBA Finals on OKC's home court, the Heat really got things rolling.
3. OT with the Kings
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Considering that the Heat have now strung together almost as many wins in a row (20) as the Sacramento Kings have amassed on the season (23), it should never have taken two overtimes to decide the game between these two teams on Feb. 26.
But the Kings got eight three-point buckets from Marcus Thornton and somehow managed to match the Heat for 48 minutes, and then some.
But James blew up the stat sheet with 40 points, 16 assists and eight rebounds on 14-of-23 shooting as the Heat outlasted the Kings, trumping them 17-5 in the second overtime period. Dwyane Wade's 39 points, eight rebounds and seven assists on an incredible 19-of-28 shooting also helped facilitate the Heat's 12th straight win.
The Heat prevailed by a final score of 141-129, but they would face another tough challenge from an equally unlikely opponent before extending the streak to 20.
2. Sending a Message
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The Indiana Pacers had been building momentum in the East, and many pundits had them pegged as the primary in-conference challenger to the Heat when the two teams tangled on March 10.
Miami put those thoughts to rest with a 105-91 thrashing of the Pacers that left little doubt about the massive gap between the Eastern Conference's best and second-best teams. The win was the 18th in the streak, but like the Heat's defeat of the Thunder earlier in the season, this one counted for a little extra.
Mario Chalmers led the Heat with an unlikely 26 points, and Dwyane Wade registered six steals as Miami outplayed, out-shot and out-hustled the Pacers.
The final score might not look like a true blowout, but rest assured, Miami controlled this game from start to finish. You can bet both teams will remember this one if they meet again in a postseason series. This was a statement game.
Also, Chalmers danced a little bit after a couple of his threes. So that was cool too.
1. The One That Almost Wasn't
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Before the streak started, if you'd had to guess which game on the schedule would pose a potential problem for the Heat, you would have had plenty of viable choices.
Even those games against the Thunder and Pacers that we already mentioned would have been good choices.
But nobody would have ever suspected that the Orlando Magic would come closer to stopping Miami's streak than anyone else has.
On March 6, the Heat narrowly escaped against the Magic, thanks to a LeBron James game-winning layup with 3.2 seconds left. There were some "favorable" Miami calls down the stretch and an almost certainly illegal number of steps taken by James on his game-winning drive, but everything turned out well for the Heat.
By definition, the game that comes closest to ending the streak has to be No. 1, right?
The Magic will get another crack at the Heat on March 25 in Orlando, but by that point the stakes could be even higher. With just two of Miami's next six opponents featuring records better than .500, the Heat could be winners of 26 straight when they next meet the Magic.