From 15-67 one year to upsetting the reigning Western Conference Champions the next.
As I watched the Miami Heat beat the Los Angeles Lakers 89-87 on Friday night, I couldn't help but be proud. As a die-hard Heat fan, it was painful and demoralizing to go through the 2007-2008 season, where a win was as rare as a Boston Celtics loss.
But this season, the Heat have already equaled last year's win total. While this might not sound like much, it speaks volumes for me and for Heat fans everywhere.
To be 15-12, above .500, and in the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference, it almost feels like we are on the 19-game winning streak that Celtic fans are enjoying currently.
While it is obviously not the same, every win feels so good because they came so sparingly last year. I cherish not only every win, but the fact that this team is getting better and is becoming a legitimate East threat.
On Friday night, this team showed their heart and resilience when they beat the No. 1 team in the Western Conference and last year's Finals runner ups. Once again, this win came on the shoulders of Dwyane Wade.
The league's leading scorer scorched Los Angeles for 35 points, six rebounds, and three assists. In addition, he had three steals and two blocked shots. He did it all for Miami as they were able to recover from their three-game losing streak.
The Biscayne Boys also got contributions from forward Shawn Marion, Daequan Cook, and rookie Mario Chalmers. Marion posted a double-double with 12 points and 11 boards, Cook knocked down four three-pointers to finish with 14 points, and Chalmers pitched in 10 points, four assists, and one steal.
But the big headline of the game was Miami's dominating defense. They held the Lakers, who are the NBA's highest scoring squad, to just 87 points, which is their season low in points. In addition, the Heat forced 21 turnovers, which is the Lakers' second highest total this season.
The Heat truly did it all in what was a statement win for them more than anything. They proved that they can hang with the best, dodge any daggers that are thrown at them, and most important of all—play great defense (the type of defense that Pat Riley would be proud of and the type of defense he passed along to Eric Spoelstra).
Kobe Bryant lost the head-to-head against Wade, posting 28 points, three rebounds, and three assists. He also missed a last second shot that would have tied the game and forced it into overtime. The shot was halfway in the net, but bounced out at the last second, giving the Heat the win and a huge break.
While the defense was a huge storyline in this game, the Heat's resiliency is what truly shined over everything.
Before the Laker game, they were in the midst of a three-game losing streak, including losses to the lowly Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks, and saw their superstar fall into a mild slump. During that span, Wade averaged a mere 17.6 points per game and was a prime reason for Miami's small hiccup.
And after a three-game loosing streak, the LA Lakers aren't exactly the best team to rebound against, but the Heat didn't let their eliteness scare them, as they fought and scrapped their way to a victory over a top team and ended their losing streak.
The win proved to speak volumes, as it has sparked their current three-game win streak. They beat the New Jersey Nets the following night on the road for their first back-to-back win all season. Then, they beat the short-handed Golden State Warriors Tuesday night.
This 2008-2009 Miami Heat team is truly showing their colors. They are a young, scrappy team that has the heart and the fight to make a push in the Eastern Conference. It will be exciting to see how far this win streak will go. Next up is the Chicago Bulls on Friday in Miami.