Heat’s Incredible Streak Ends at 27
The '71-'72 Los Angeles Lakers record 33 straight wins is safe for now. The Miami Heat's winning streak was snapped in dramatic fashion on Wednesday night in Chicago. The 101-97 loss left Lebron James and the rest of the Heat bruised, battered, and left thinking of what could've been.
Before I delve into the game action, I've got to take step back and give the Heat the credit they deserve. The loss Wednesday was their first since February 1st. In that streak alone, Miami had more wins than 10 other franchises have had all season. The most impressive aspect of the streak may have the been the Heat's ability to overcome deficit after deficit, night after night. Miami staged comebacks against Boston and Cleveland in consecutive games, after being down at least 17 and 27 respectively. Those games showed the world that the Heat were intent on breaking this record and they'd give it 150% every night no matter who they are going up against.
Wednesday night proved to the NBA that the Heat are human. Despite being without stars Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, the Bulls were set on ending the Heat's historical streak. The game had a playoff atmosphere from the start. Chicago jumped out to an early lead, though they stayed aggressive, aware that the Heat's unstoppable offense could strike at any time.
The Heat carried momentum into the second half and brought Chicago's lead down to 1 by the end of the 3rd quarter. Chicago's physical play ultimately proved too much for the Heat's athleticism. It was clear that Lebron was getting frustrated taking hits as he drove to the basket late in the game. He delivered a shot to Carlos Boozer trying to fight through a screen, and received a flagrant foul that took the Heat out of the game. It's unusual to see this Heat team get so mentally rattled, but Chiacgo pushed all the right buttons.
Lebron had 32 points in the game, almost willing Miami to victory in the closing seconds. He added 7 rebounds and 4 blocks. Chicago's top performer was All-Star Luol Deng, scoring 28 points on 10-22 shooting from the field. His offense was much needed for a typically defensive minded Bulls team
Teams around the league shouldn't take the Heat any lighter when they play them. I can see Miami coming back with a vengeance, taking this pain into the playoffs and further. Lebron and his teammates wanted the record more than they cared about their health and fatigue. I would love to see Miami take on Chicago in a 7 game series come playoff time. Unfortunately for the Bulls, if they don't get a healthy Derrick Rose back by then, I could see Miami destroying them despite this loss.
Miami is still locked and loaded in first in the East, and are still expected to cruise through the East during the playoffs. Chicago did reveal some of the blueprint for defeating Miami, but don;t expect the Heat to struggle as mightily against most teams they'll play. They are still by far the best team in the NBA.