It finally happened last night, March 27, 2013.
After 27 straight wins and 50-plus days without a loss, the Miami Heat were defeated by the Chicago Bulls 101-97. The win-streak was the second longest in NBA history, six behind the 33-game win streak of the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. So, while the streak was impressive and captivating to many NBA fans at this point in a long regular season, it does beg this question . . .
Can the Miami Heat go undefeated in the NBA playoffs?
There has never been a team in NBA history that has swept through the playoffs with an undefeated record. A couple of teams have come close, most recently the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. That Lakers team finished 15-1 in the playoffs, losing in overtime in Game 1 of the NBA Finals versus Allen Iverson and the Sixers.
The only other one-loss team was the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers led by Moses Malone.
Prior to the playoffs, Malone predicted the Sixers would sweep through the playoffs with his “Fo, Fo, Fo” statement. The Sixers defeated the New York Knicks 4-0 in the conference semifinals before defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the conference finals. The Sixers swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals and finished the playoffs with a 12-1 record.
Throughout this 27-game streak for the Heat, the team talked about and embraced the idea of being able to make history. As the streak progressed, some analysts even discussed this team’s place among the all-time great teams in the NBA. That discussion was rather premature, because the ultimate goal for this Heat team has not changed since the beginning of the season.
.@kingjames: We're very humble about being a part of this team and this streak. Ultimately we want to win an NBA Championship.— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 28, 2013
The Heat will be measured by their ability to repeat as NBA champions.
Can the Heat win 16-straight games in the NBA playoffs?
Absolutely. If the streak proved nothing else, it proved that the Heat have the ability to overcome their deficiencies on any given night and win games. This team is talented, and when engaged, they can be lethal. However, the streak also proved something else that could eventually lead to them losing a game in the playoffs.
The Heat showed throughout the streak that they have a tendency to play down to their competition.
This was evident from their double overtime win over the Sacramento Kings or their comeback victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers after being down by 27 points. Even this Bulls team that defeated the Heat was undermanned, playing without Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Richard Hamilton or Marco Belinelli.
This Heat team has the ability to defeat any team they will face in the playoffs. The Heat have beaten every team in the NBA this season in route to their current 56-15 record. However, the real question is will the Heat win 16-straight games in the playoffs?
That is yet to be determined, but would there be any better way for the Heat to make history? Twenty-seven straight is nice and quite an accomplishment, but 16 straight and an NBA Championship would be even better.