On paper, the Heat going for their 24th consecutive victory against a bombed out and depleted Cavs team wasn’t supposed to be this difficult. Miami was supposed to be up 30 in the third, providing for an easy night at the office for LeBron, Wade, Bosh and the South Beach Band of Brothers. Only, it was absolutely nothing like that.
Peep how the night went…
1. What do we know about Dan Gilbert post-LeBron? He writes his hate mail in Comic Sans. He absolutely loves the Dallas Mavericks. He may – or may not – have played apart in the Lakers not getting Chris Paul. To be fair, he’s made some pretty well thought out draft selections, too. Still, he’s 3-1 in the negative department, which is why his pre-game tweet felt so…ominous. Per Darth Gilbert, “Cleveland Cavaliers young talent makes our future very bright. Clearly, LeBron’s is as well. Time for everyone to focus on the road ahead.”
2. At work yesterday, we began our March Madness tournament. Everyone had to pick a team name out of a box and that was who we were assigned to for the remainder of the tournament. Of course I drew Akron. I swear I’m not making this up.
3. There was oil leaking from the scoreboard, delaying the game for over 35 minutes. At this point, the conspiracy was off and running.
4. Perhaps it was a mix of Cleveland wanting to deliver their former favorite son a loss ending the streak, or maybe it was Miami not taking a Cavs team without their best player (Kyrie), their best rebounder (Varajeo) and impressive rookie (Waiters) serious. Or maybe Miami was still in Boston attending Jason Terry’s home going service. Regardless, the Cavs stepped out the corner throwing and connecting every haymaker they threw. By 9:20 p.m. EST, the “it’s been real” tweets were being sent out and we were all wondering if Cavs fans would storm the court for the first ever 16-seed being a 1.
6. Down 21 at halftime and 27 in the third, Miami started getting stops, Shane Battier and Ray Allen began holding tutorials from the three point line and LeBron turned into a mutant again. Erik Spoelstra described the 51-17 run as “lightening in a bottle.” On TV it looked like a cheetah hunting down a gazelle. Midway through the third, James had seven points, five rebounds and two assists. He ended up with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists leading the way for a 98-95 victory.
Wednesday’s 24th consecutive win mean the Heat are totally invested with surpassing the 1971-72 Lakers streak of 33 straight whether they publicly admit so or not. It’s too much to ignore at this point. Can they do it? Absolutely. Will they? It’s going to take every bit talent they’ve got, plus a bit of luck, but they’re in the neighborhood of West, Chamberlain, Goodrich (and Riley); a lot more than any team in history can say.
They’re locked in for 16 wins come playoff time, too, no doubt. But at this point, LeBron, Wade, Bosh and the Heat are playing for near unprecedented air. A ton of basketball is still left to be decided, but the possibility of winning back-to-back championships with a streak of this magnitude adds an entirely different dynamic to the fold. As my brothers Kenny Masenda and Eddie Maisonet said, it wouldn’t be 72 wins, but a title plus 34 straight is about as close as we’ll probably ever see. The one red flag – if there is one – is Miami and their sluggish, uninterested lapses they inevitably put themselves in; a bad habit to practice and one rendering itself virtually useless against more talented teams.
Then again, who knows, maybe they’re just inventing new ways to win games now.
— Memphis used overtime to dispatch the Thunder 90-89. The Grizz front line Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combined 29 points and 33 rebounds. On the other side of the coin, that’s two consecutive losses against teams Oklahoma City will probably see at some point in the playoffs.
— Boston gave away a game they probably should have won in New Orleans 87-86. I’m just ecstatic the Pelicans didn’t blow this on a brain fart like they did with Kobe a few weeks back.
— Talk about staying afloat during Tony Parker’s absence. The Tim Duncan Revival Tour continued on Wednesday. His 25 points and 13 rebounds (six assists and four blocks, too) against Golden State was just head scratching. Golden State hasn’t won in San Antonio since Latrell Sprewell had short hair, by the way.
— The Knicks secured their 40th win of the season in Carmelo Anthony’s return with 106-94 win over Orlando. As if New York needed any more injuries to deal with, however, Iman Shumpert left the game with a knee injury, although it doesn’t appear too serious.
— Speak on NYC basketball, the Nets kept pace with their elder Big Apple cousins by dismantling Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks. Brook Lopez morphed into the dork version of Arvydas Sabonis going for 38 points and 11 rebounds while Deron Williams and his newly minted ankles added 31. To bad a Knicks/Nets first round matchup seems all but forgone now. That’d make for hilarious nights on Twitter.
— Break up the Bobcats. In front of 52 paying customers, they notched their second straight win against the Raptors 107-101 and now stand 37.5 games out of Miami for the top spot out East. I’m lying about that 52 number, but probably not by much.
— Monta Ellis – the night and day player that he is – had one of the ugliest stat lines of the season going 2-14, in 40 minutes, for five points. Despite Larry Sanders’ 19 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks, the Bucks dropped a winnable game in Atlanta 98-90. Al Horford continues to have the best second half no one is paying attention to with another dominant performance. He and Jeff Teague carried the Hawks with 26 points, 15 rebounds and 27 points and 11 assists, respectively.
— The Rockets dispatched the Jazz 100-93. And if the playoffs began today, they’d square off against Oklahoma City in the first round. Here’s to hoping that sticks.