Sabado, Marso 16, 2013

Who, If Anyone, Can Stop the Miami Heat Winning Streak?

Before anything else, I would like to re freshen everyone's memory about the last game the Miami Heat lost. It was February 1st at Indiana, 102-89. 

Many of us aren't even sure that happened. 

More than a month after, that bitter memory was piled under stacks of wins. 21 wins to be exact. After the defending NBA champions experienced that embarrassing defeat before a sold out Bankers Life Fieldhouse, LeBron James' troop seemed to forget how it was to lose a game.

The winning streak started at Toronto and had traveled today at Milwaukee. That's a lot of miles. Long, long miles. Long, long winning streak. And to note, the Miami Heat are one win away from tying the 07-08 Houston Rockets for the second place of the longest running winning streak in the history of the NBA.

And if we look at the immediate horizon, with Toronto waiting to give a shot at ending this winning craze, the Heat might as well extend it to 22. And if they survive Boston on March 18th, life would get lighter with games against Cleveland, Charlotte, Detroit, and Orlando.

But aside from these piles of wins that these monsters are getting, what catches my attention is that the Heat are becoming more scary with each win that they pluck. This team is creepy individually and would only get horrifying once they work together and put their efforts in playing their individual roles. Now that Mario Chalmers has been stepping it up a bit, Coach Spoelstra's army is turning Nazi-nasty in picking up those wins.

They say good things come to an end. But with 18 games left to play in the Heat's schedule before playoffs, one must wonder if this good winning streak would even come to an end, well, in terms of regular season games. 

The answer lies on which team is proud enough to humble these surging bullies. Here are the candidates:

Boston Celtics

When Paul Pierce said that he wasn't impressed with the Heat's current success, team captain Dwyane Wade retaliates. That moment, the clash, as we know it, just got real. That's what makes Boston a contender in ending the streak. The bean town mafia are men of their words. They are a playoff team who, despite losing star Rajon Rondo to ACL tear, still made ways to remain a threat in the off balanced Eastern Conference standings. Miami faces Boston two more times before storming the playoffs. And with their season series tied at 1-1 with victories at each's house, things are gonna get interesting. It is true that Miami have a better paper line up but there is something about the greens that just makes the Heat stand back a bit. Their first clash from this moment would be Monday, March 18th. As I said earlier, if Miami survives that encounter, their winning streak could extend for a few more games.

Chicago Bulls

This would be an easy choice if the Heat are boasting their 10-11 line up which rotates in the middle with Joel Anthony. But this Heat team wasn't the old Miami team that went short in the Finals. This team, as we all know it, are the defending NBA Champions and that is where their hearts are at this moment. Chicago, meanwhile, carry ups and downs under their belts in terms of season progression. Without their franchise star Derrick Rose, the Bulls were a little bit inconsistent but doesn't fail to be in the top 8. That is what makes this team dangerous for the Heat streak. Their ability to adjust and focus on their defense would be a big part, if in case they want to put an end to one of the craziest things this Miami team has done. Joakim Noah stepping it up with Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer in the Middle would be their key when they face Miami on March 27. Expect a little more energy from Nate Robinson. They wouldn't be able to stop LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on this one, but when they have the rest of the guys under their Tom Thibodeau inspired defense, everything could be a possibility, including slapping Miami with a loss.

New York Knicks

If there is a team who posts immediate danger, it would be the Knicks. They blew the Heat out in their first two meetings which makes them solid contenders for this one. Carmelo Anthony might be dealing with knee issues when this two squads collide, but that wouldn't be a problem if New York gets solid numbers and defense from Tyson Chandler. He keeps this team breathing. Chandler, I can say, is this team's ace player at the moment. He serves as their oxygen tank for life, while JR Smith serves as their battery. This dynamic duo would be responsible for defensive and offensive flows when they meet Miami on April 2. There is a very long stretch before they lock it up at AAA. That seems to be enough to allow Carmelo and Amare Stoudemire to deal with their health issues. Once the Knickerbockers are healthy, Miami could be on immediate stress.  If the Heat care much about keeping the streak breathing, they might as well prepare to diffuse the bombs from the Knicks early in the first quarter.

San Antonio Spurs

If one meets the Spurs in a stretch of games, expect them to be serious threats. They have the second best record in the league right now and they would be much happy to dethrone who else but the Heat for the top place. That matters for home court advantage going into the playoffs, specifically, the Finals. ESPN and hasn't been talking about the Spurs that much. That is how they wanted to be treated. One says that they are old and too slow to deal with this energetic Heat team, but those are all conspiracies in the league. If so, they should have been sitting there with Dallas at 9th or 10th. But they emerged strong and still. The trinity of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili hasn't been that effective lately but there are lots of combinations that coach Greg Popovich can use. He is the master of that. If he puts DeJuan Blair infront of LeBron, that could be it.

But the Heat, as we know them, won't go out without a fight. This winning streak proves a lot in terms of how good they are as a team. If Toronto doesn't retaliate this Monday and allow the Heat to dominate, the energy and momentum could be unstoppable  when they reach the last 10 games of their season. And you know what, the 1971-1972 LA Lakers are waiting on the line. Should the Heat continue winning until their last game, they would dethrone the 33 game winning streak of that Lakers team, the best in history. And why not? They have the star power to do that.

But I believe very well that this Heat team wouldn't even be wary about who will beat them first, they just focus on one game at a time and let their games speak for them. In the end, a championship wouldn't be decided on which winning streak lasts the longest. The Denver Nuggets wouldn't win the chip just because they have 11 no loss record. That's not how the league goes. Surprises arise. But if Miami wins the championship this year, that wouldn't surprise me at all.


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