From the moment LeBron James and Chris Bosh took their talents to South Beach, people were expecting big things from the Miami Heat. And rightly so, having two (Dwyane Wade and James) of the best five players in the NBA instantly shunts any team into contention for an NBA championship. Sure enough, after one season of figuring things out, the Miami Heat went on to win the championship — beating Kevin Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2011-12 NBA Finals.
James and his teammates are currently on a 23-game winning streak, most recently having knocked off a resilient Boston Celtics team on Monday, March 18, in the TD Garden on 105-103 following a late game comeback (the Heat were down double digits in the fourth quarter). The NBA record for consecutive games won is 33 by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
The Miami Heat predictably have a lot of people that dislike them for the way in which they constructed their team, so why is them running through the league — as many initially feared — good for the league?
It’s March, which means one thing for many basketball fans: March Madness. The NCAA tournament takes the basketball spotlight and many choose to watch the future stars in the exciting knockout format instead of regular-season NBA games. I guess that’s the problem with 82-game regular seasons — fans can get bored just waiting for the playoffs to come around.
Even without the NCAA tournament, it is not the most exciting time to watch the NBA. The early-season buzz is over and for many teams (like my Philadelphia 76ers) it is a case of going through the motions. For example, in the Eastern Conference, the eighth-seed Milwaukee Bucks are 7.5 games ahead of Philadelphia for the last playoff spot. There is no race there; it’s just a case of seeding. Out West it is a little more interesting — with Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers push for the playoffs and the race for the eighth seed will go down to the wire. However, there isn’t much reason for the casual fan to tune in (us basketball nuts will watch regardless). Most assume that the Lakers will make it into the playoffs, with the Utah Jazz slowly fading.
However, the Miami Heat’s win streak has kept the NBA relevant in the month in which it often gets left behind. James is well on his way to his fourth Most Valuable Player award and Wade is playing some really efficient basketball. Can they go all the way and beat the Lakers’ streak? It’s a tough one, but one things for sure: It keeps the viewers entertained and keeps the NBA on people’s lips.