17-point deficit? Check.
Jeff Green scoring 43 points? Check.
Playing on the road in a hostile environment? Check.
Yes, all of the factors were in place for the Heat’s winning streak to be stopped cold at 22 by the green guys. So what happened?
LeBron did it on ‘em.
King James slowly chipped away at Boston’s early second-quarter lead with his trademark combination of scoring and playmaking. After realizing Green was scorching, LeBron took the challenge of shutting him down defensively. Finally, LeBron James scored or assisted on Miami’s last 15 points – sealing the deal and officially putting his critique of being a choker to rest. This was most notably capped by his game-winning pull-up jumper that extended the second-longest streak in NBA history.
Clearly, claiming the second-longest steak ever at the TD Garden in Beantown is monumental, but Miami has put together some highlight-worthy performances during the past month and a half. Here’s my top list of the Heat’s biggest wins since February 3 (the beginning of the streak):
February 26: Sacramento Kings 129 @ Miami Heat 141
What’s more exciting than seeing the Heat pull out a nail-biter against a quality opponent? How about LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combining for 79 points and a ton of alley-oops and tomahawks in 58 minutes of game actions? This was one of the more exciting games that Miami has played, and one that fantasy owners of James and Wade were both totally satisfied with the production of each player.
March 10: Indiana Pacers 91 @ Miami Heat 105
Think Miami remembered the last team that they lost to prior to the streak? It’s no doubt that the Pacers stayed on their minds. Not only was Indiana the last team to beat them, but Frank Vogel’s squad was actually 2-0 coming into their latest meeting earlier this month. The Heat know that Indiana is a tough matchup for them – particularly with their interior strength and toughness. But Miami overcame that on this night by getting a very efficient 73 points from Wade, Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers on a mere 40 field goal attempts. That’s what the presence of James does for this offense.
March 3: Miami Heat 99 @ New York Knicks 93
It’s almost as if Erik Spoelstra has a bulletin board on his phone, which he summons in key games to remind his team of lackluster performances. The Heat had dropped its first two meetings against the Knicks this season – and they had done so in embarrassing fashion (each loss was by 20+ points). New York had sported a 16-point advantage right before the half. But with the poise of a champion, Miami kept its composure and marched back…outscoring the home team by 20 after halftime. It was a Sunday marquee matinee under big lights, on the big stage at MSG – and the Heat managed to get this big win.
February 14: Miami Heat 110 @ Oklahoma City Thunder 100
On a Thursday night TNT showcase in Oklahoma City, LeBron James added more material to his case for MVP with 39 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists. But there was more to this win than LeBron’s sensational stat-line. This was a chance for the Thunder to make its statement against the NBA champs on its own turf, but they made the mistake of letting Miami get too far out in front of them. Despite scoring 39, LeBron was outscored by Kevin Durant, who put up 40 on this night. However, LeBron’s 39 was much more effective and efficient – and James’ field goal attempts had a much lower degree of difficulty than Durant’s. Miami’s execution allowed the NBA’s efficiency leader to get whatever he wanted when his team needed it most. All in all, this was a statement game gone wrong for the Thunder. And the Heat rolled on.
March 18: Miami Heat 105 @ Boston Celtics 103
This contest was another example of the Heat staying with the game plan, maintaining its cool and delivering in clutch situations. But this game will probably be remembered most for three reasons. First, it marked the historic, 23rd win in a row. Second, LeBron delivered the shot-heard-round-the-world to close this game out. And lastly, well…this play should come second fiddle to nothing.
The stage was set beautifully. It was a big game with huge historical ramifications, and Jason Terry had some not-so-flattering comments about the Association’s hottest team. So, it was almost fitting that ‘the Jet’ would get caught in such a helpless position against the game’s most unstoppable force. What could be better than that? How about this soundbite from LeBron when he was asked about Terry’s proximity as the play unfolded:
I seen him down there. I guess he didn’t see me.
Awesome. Just like Miami’s current place in NBA history.