Ranking LeBron's Best Games During Heat Win Streak

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistApril 3, 2013

Ranking LeBron's Best Games During Heat Win Streak

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    From February 3 to March 25, the Miami Heat were a spectacle to watch on the hardwood, as they blew out teams and made dramatic late-game comebacks against others.

    The driving force behind the Heat's 27-game adventure was LeBron James, who's well on his way to capturing his fourth career MVP award.

    According to NBA.com's stats database, James averaged 27 points, eight assists and 8.1 rebounds per contest over the course of the Heat's winning streak.

    As James chases championship No. 2, the Heat's winning streak will serve as a preview of what fans should expect to see from him through the months of April, May and June.

7. February 23 vs. Philadelphia 76ers

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    At first glance, LeBron James' performance against the Philadelphia 76ers on February 23 doesn't look all that impressive.

    After all, James didn't carry the offensive load for the Heat, as Dwyane Wade posted a game-high 33 points, leading the Heat to a 114-90 victory. 

    What James showed against the Sixers was that he can have a profound impact on any given game even if he doesn't score copious amounts of points.

    James recorded the 35th triple-double of his career in the win over the Sixers, posting a line of 16 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

    Not only that, but James was efficient on the offensive end. Converting on seven of 12 shots, James proved once again that he's the most unstoppable force in basketball.

6. February 8 vs. Los Angeles Clippers

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    The fourth win of the Miami Heat's streak came against the Los Angeles Clippers. LeBron James led all scorers with 30 points, but as was the norm during the Heat's streak, the efficiency with which the reigning MVP compiled the points was the most impressive part of his performance.

    James' 30 points came on 9-of-11 shooting from the field, including 4-of-5 from three and 8-of-11 from the free-throw line.

    In addition to scoring at will, James doled out six assists and grabbed five rebounds to pace the Heat over the Clippers, 111-89.

    However, what fans will remember most about the Heat's victory over the Clippers isn't LeBron's performance on the court.

    It was that game where James exchanged chest passes with a fan during a brief stoppage. There's a reason why those seats aren't cheap.

5. February 26 vs. Sacramento Kings

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    Over the course of the Miami Heat's winning streak, some interesting trends emerged. One of the more concerning was the Heat's tendency to play down to the level of their competition.

    Miami's propensity to allow inferior teams to hang around nearly ended their streak on several occasions. One of the most memorable came on February 26 against the Sacramento Kings.

    The Kings pushed the Heat into double overtime, but in the end, the talent of LeBron James overwhelmed an inexperienced Kings team.

    In nearly 48 minutes of action, James topped all players in the scoring column, recording 40 points on 14-of-23 shooting (11-of-12 from the charity stripe).

    LeBron also recorded a career-high 16 assists in the win, while Dwyane Wade added 39 points, eight rebounds and seven assists of his own.

4. February 14 vs. Okalahoma City Thunder

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    It feels almost criminal to rank LeBron James' performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder outside of the top three, but that shows just how prolific he was during the team's 27-game win streak.

    In a rematch of the 2012 NBA Finals, James appeared as locked in as ever. He closed the first half with a flourish, converting on jump shot after jump shot over a variety of Thunder defenders.

    There are several candidates for James' most impressive shot or move during the 27-game stretch, but to me, no shot will top James' step-back, fall-away jumper over Kevin Durant from the left wing. If he's hitting that shot, just forget about it.

    In a hard-fought 110-100 victory, James' astounding performance proved to be the difference.

3. March 18 vs. Boston Celtics

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    Leading up to the Miami Heat's duel with the Boston Celtics, March 18 had been circled as the probable end-date of the team's winning streak.

    The Heat, who have struggled in Boston since LeBron joined forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, came out flat, as they were outscored by the Celtics 31-19 in the game's first quarter.

    Boston's Jeff Green appeared unstoppable throughout, as he poured in a career-high 43 points on 14-of-21 shooting (5-of-7 from deep). 

    Unfortunately for Boston, James' game was on, and he proved to be too much for an ordinarily stingy Boston defense.

    In addition to putting Jason Terry on a poster and giving him the most intimidating death stare you'll ever see, James knocked down a 21-foot jumper with 10.5 seconds remaining to give the Heat the lead for good.

    Over the Heat's 27-game win streak, James was unflappable in the clutch.

    According to NBA.com's stats database, in 37 clutch minutes played over those 27 games, James recorded an offensive rating of 116.2, an effective field-goal percentage of 61.2 percent and a true shooting percentage of 65.8 percent.

    For a player who was once taunted as un-clutch, James has flipped the script, becoming one of the league's most efficient and reliable crunch-time scorers.

2. February 4 vs. Charlotte Bobcats

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    The Miami Heat's win streak was in danger of never getting off the ground, as they were pushed to the brink by the Charlotte Bobcats on February 4.

    Thankfully, LeBron James came up with one of his most impressive performances of the season in the 99-94 win, scoring 33 points on 13-of-14 shooting from the field. 

    On a night when Dwyane Wade struggled to find his groove (7-of-19 from the field) and the Heat's bench combined to score just 20 points, James took shots in a calculated and precise manner, weaving his way through the Bobcats defense en route to a stellar performance.

    It's performances like these that prove just how efficient LeBron has become. James currently leads the NBA in PER with a mark of 31.44, three points better than the second-place Kevin Durant.

1. March 20 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    From an efficiency standpoint, LeBron James was hardly at his best against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    The Miami Heat appeared to be sleepwalking through the first two quarters of play against James' former employer, as they trailed 55-34 at halftime.

    In the most eye-opening game of the Heat's streak, James led a ferocious Miami charge in the second half.

    James' most memorable sequence from the 98-95 win came at the start of the fourth quarter, when he scored eight straight points (including two three-pointers) to tie the game at 77.

    On the night, James finished with a triple-double, scoring 25 points (8-of-22 shooting), grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out 10 assists.

    March 20, 2013 will also be remembered as the night a Cavaliers fan took to the court to make an early free-agency recruiting pitch to James.