Miami Heat's Historic Winning Streak Told in Pictures
Yeah, they've been winning that much.
South Beach's finest haven't lost since February 1 and have since rattled off 26 consecutive victories. They're seven wins shy of tying the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers for the longest winning streak in NBA history and have left everyone wondering if they'll ever lose again.
Miami didn't always sit on its current pedestal, though. Following that February 1 loss to the Indiana Pacers, Paul George's contingent had the Heat's number, and the quest for a repeat wouldn't be as smooth as originally assumed.
Even amid this 26-game stretch of utter dominance, there have been times when Miami was left floundering, on the brink of losing.
Each time, however, the Heat found a way to win.
Often in the most illustrious of fashions.
Sunday, February 3: It Begins Super Bowl Style
LeBron scoffs at the thought of incurring two straight losses.
Essentially crestfallen that they were stranded in Canada for the Super Bowl and coming off a loss to the Pacers, the Heat put the Toronto Raptors away rather easily, 100-85.
James dropped 30 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and Dwyane Wade pitched in 23 points.
The win also ensured that the Heat would be well represented at the All-Star game. James, Wade and Chris Bosh already had their tickets, and Erik Spoelstra now had his as the Eastern Conference's head coach.
Truthfully, this day was all about Coach Spo. Not only did he coach his way toward the All-Star festivities, but he called an "audible" after the win and allowed the Heat to watch the Super Bowl from a sports bar in Toronto.
Little did they (and we) know this was the first of many surprises—25 games' worth of surprises, in fact.
Monday, February 4: Super Bowl Hangover for the Heat, but Not LeBron
James looks just as confused as the rest of us were.
The Heat managed to avoid disaster and snag their second consecutive victory against the Charlotte Bobcats. The only problem was a team like the Heat shouldn't have had to "avoid disaster" against the 'Cats.
Glass-half-full style, James shot 13-of-14 from the field that night (92.9 percent), the most efficient outing of his career.
A five-point victory (99-94) over Charlotte isn't something to brag about, but James' performance was. He bordered on perfection on a night when the Heat were far from their best.
Kudos to the King.
Friday, February 8: South Beach over Hollywood's Stepchild
And massacre them they did. South Beach held home court, cruising to a 22-point victory over one of the Western Conference's best teams.
James treated us to even more of his superhuman escapades, shooting 9-of-11 from the floor for 30 points. It was his fourth consecutive game converting on 60 percent or more of his shot attempts, the first time he had ever done so in his career.
LeBron James 9-11 FG (81.8 pct) vs Clippers. 1st time in career LeBron has shot 60 pct from floor in 4 straight games— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 9, 2013
This was also the first, and so far only, occasion in which he scored 30 points on 11 or fewer shots.
Way to stay (almost) perfect, LeBron.
Sunday, February 10: Tinseltown Falls...Again
It's not enough that the Heat beat the Clippers, they had to hand the Los Angeles Lakers a loss of their own too.
For the fifth straight game, James scored 30 or more points, making him the only player in Heat history to accomplish such a feat.
That's a Heat record for LeBron. Five straight games of 30 points or more.— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) February 10, 2013
Merely five wins in, The Chosen One's accolades trumped everything else. Miami had won at least five games in a row 11 times since James came to town, so that was nothing new.
James' reign of dominance was.
Tuesday, February 12: More History for LeBron
Six victories in a row is great, but watching James shoot at least 60 percent from the field over that very same span is even better.
The King shot 11-of-15 from the field, becoming the first player in NBA history to shoot at least 60 percent in six straight games. He, Bosh and Wade combined for 86 of Miami's 117 points, as the Heat won their 1,000th regular-season game in franchise history.
"I'm at a loss for words," LeBron said afterward (via ESPN.com).
Funny. At this point, I didn't think "loss" was a word that was in Miami's vocabulary.
Thursday, February 14: No Love for Kevin Durant and the Thunder
Don't let that hug fool you—the Heat bore no Valentine's Day gifts for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Though James' streak of 60-plus percent shooting concluded, Miami's winning streak continued.
Kevin Durant posted 40 points in an MVP-caliber performance, but he was outdone by an even more MVP-like outing from LeBron (39 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists).
"Sixty percent doesn't matter," James said after the game (via ESPN.com). "Winning is all that matters."
Winning is also all the Heat continue to do.
Thursday, February 21: Revenge is a Dish Best Served in Blowouts
The only member of the Chicago Bulls who the Heat couldn't prevent from scoring was their mascot.
Having lost to the Bulls at home more than a month before, the Heat came out defending on February 21 and iced their ninth straight victory.
Their 86-67 victory marked the only time this season they allowed fewer than 70 points in a game.
"We're putting together some good basketball right now," James said after the game (via ESPN.com).
Understatement of the year.
Saturday, February 23: There's Something Going on Here...
Miami's victory over the Philadelphia 76ers marked the team's 10th straight. It was only the second time in the Big Three era that the Heat had won at least 10 in a row.
By this point, the general public knew something was up in South Beach.
LeBron grabbed his 35th career triple-double, Wade led all scorers with 33 points, and a new precedent had been set.
The Heat were winning and weren't prepared to stop anytime soon.
Friday, March 1: Miami Can Win Ugly Too
As I alluded to earlier, it wasn't all chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne on the sidelines throughout this winning streak. The Heat have had to win ugly.
In their second meeting of the season against the Memphis Grizzlies, James and company redeemed themselves. They suffered an 18-point loss at Memphis the first time around, in a game where Wayne Ellington led all scorers.
Amid the worst shooting night of his season (4-of-14), James wouldn't allow the Heat to fall in South Beach. He hit a three-pointer with 24 seconds remaining to give Miami the lead for good.
While increasing their winning streak to 13, the Heat ended Memphis' stretch of eight consecutive wins. The contest was the first bout since 1993 that saw two teams with winning streaks of at least eight games wage battle.
Sunday, March 3: More Redemption
Aside from a slew of come-from-behind victories, the prevailing theme behind Miami's winning streak has been redemption.
Coming into their March 3 game against the New York Knicks, the boys in orange and blue were one of only two teams (Pacers) that had beaten the Heat twice this season. Trailing by 14 at the half, it seemed Miami was headed for a third loss.
The Heat were a different team in the second half, though. They came out firing and forcing turnovers and outscored the Knicks by 20, turning a 14-point deficit into a six-point victory.
With their 14th straight win, Miami tied the franchise's record for most consecutive wins.
And still, the Heat weren't done.
Monday, March 4: Miami Reaches New Heights
A victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves gave these Heat their 15th straight victory and the longest winning streak in franchise history.
Wade led the way with 32 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists as Miami finished on a 17-5 run to put the game out of reach from Ricky Rubio and company.
The win was not without its bumps and bruises, though. Ray Allen and J.J Barea got into it near the end after the former was essentially thrown to the ground.
Barea was ejected and Allen incurred no injury, so the suffering was minimal —well, for the Heat at least. Not so much for the Timberwolves.
Wednesday, March 6: A Close Call Against Orlando
All good (great) things are destined to come to an end, but few expected the Orlando Magic to end what Miami had going. And yet, they almost did.
Winners of 15 in a row, the Heat found themselves down by one with less than 10 seconds to go.
Ball in hand, LeBron attacked the rim and laid the ball in. Arron Afflalo's mid-court heave caromed off the backboard and the Heat won their 16th straight.
What's an obscene winning streak without a little bit of drama?
Friday, March 6: Sup, Clippers?
If there was anything that could dwarf how much the Heat were winning, it was the Clippers' 17-game winning streak.
The Heat may have broken their franchise record for most consecutive wins, but Los Angeles held the longest streak of the season. That is, until the Heat beat the Sixers again.
Miami won by just nine, but were never threatened. Spoelstra sat LeBron with more than eight minutes to go in the final period, and never put him back in.
Mostly because the Heat never looked back.
Sunday, March 10: Pacers A La Mode
First New York, then Indiana.
Other than the Knicks, the Pacers represented the only NBA team to have outdone the Heat twice this season, and something tells me Miami was more than aware of that.
The Heat torched the Pacers at home, winning by 14 points in what was a complete effort.
James had 24 and Wade 23, but Mario Chalmers led the Heat with 26.
This was Miami's 18th-straight victory, the longest of any team this season.
"That's the thing about our team," Chalmers said after the win (via ESPN.com). "We can click on all cylinders."
It seems like the Heat can win on all of them too.
Wednesday, March 13: Another Scare
Win No. 20 didn't come so easy.
Despite having beat the Sixers two times throughout their winning streak already, it took some late-game heroics from Wade to seal the deal on this one.
After watching misses on two relatively easy looks at the rim, Wade swooped in for a tip-in to ensure that Miami didn't fall in Philly.
Close calls such as these didn't appear to bode well for Miami's attempt to surpass the Lakers' record of 33, but after 20 straight victories, it was difficult to stop talking about it (as opposed to now, when it's near impossible).
Sunday, March 17: Hello, Houston
Looking for win No. 22, Miami journeyed back to Toronto where it all started.
The Raptors kept the game close, but the Heat pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Miami's win left the team tied with the 2007-08 Houston Rockets for the second-longest winning streak in league history.
Staring down the barrel of a date against the Boston Celtics—the team that ended Houston's 22-game winning streak five years ago—would the Heat hit 23?
Monday, March 18: Goodbye, Houston
When Miami traveled to Beantown to put its then-22-game winning streak on the line against the Celtics, many had the game pegged as one the Heat would lose.
But Boston wasn't only without Rajon Rondo, as Kevin Garnett was unable to play as well.
So, no problem right?
With the game tied at 103 and less than 15 seconds remaining, James stepped into a jumper and buried it, giving the Heat a two-point lead they didn't relinquish.
Boston put forth a valiant effort, but it just wasn't enough.
Against the Heat lately—who now have sole possession of the second-longest winning streak in NBA history—it never is.
Wednesday, March 20: And We Thought the Game Against the Celtics Was Turbulent
Down 27 points on the road against a Cleveland Cavaliers team that was without Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, the Heat managed to avert yet another disaster.
James wasn't able to avoid his most obsessed fan, however.
With a little over eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter, a fan donning a message-carrying shirt rushed the court to see LeBron. The man in question was brutally escorted off the court, but not before he exchanged some quick pleasantries with LeBron.
The King now follows the The Criminally Insane (kidding...kind of) on Twitter.
But I digress. This was about the Heat winning their 24th straight.
Watching them do so under the most bizarre of instances was just a bonus.
Friday, March 22: 25 and Counting
Slow start, strong finish.
Already without Andre Drummond, the Detroit Pistons found themselves ahead by as much as 11 in the first half. Midway through the fourth quarter, they were still within striking distance.
Then Miami started to care. Like, really care.
They allowed just 35 points in the second half and sent the Motor City's Finest home, worse for wear.
James and Wade combined for 48 points, and the Heat won their 25th straight.
Unless you were a member of the 1971-72 Lakers, it just doesn't get any better than this.
Sunday, March 24: No Wade? No problem.
The Bobcats aren't good, and the Wade-less Heat felt compelled to remind them of such a fact.
James torched Charlotte for one of his near triple-doubles, putting up 32 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots.
Kemba Walker and crew showed some resistance through three quarters, but the Heat blew it open in the fourth, outscoring Charlotte 36-20.
Obviously, Miami will need Wade moving forward, but for victory No. 26? Not so much.
And so, the quest continues.
The Heat now find themselves just seven games shy of tying the league's record for most consecutive wins, and eight away from breaking it.
How many games will the Heat end their win streak with?
The Heat now head out on a four-game road trip. Their next game comes against an Eastern Conference bottom-feeder (Orlando) before they head to Chicago to face a Bulls team that has struggled at home (and in general).
Should the Heat win each of those five games, they're a victory over the Bobcats and Sixers (yet again) away from tying Los Angeles' mark of 33 straight wins. And then they're a win over the Milwaukee Bucks away from beating it.
We'd also like to say yes, but depending on which version of the Heat show up to close the game, we just don't know.
*All stats used in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference, Synergy Sports, 82games.com and NBA.com unless otherwise noted.
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