Comebacks Becoming Unlikely Norm As Miami Keeps Its Win Streak Afloat

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CLEVELANDSpillage on the floor. Fan on the floor. Remarkable on the floor.

The Miami Heat, in a clawback worthy of Bernie Madoff prosecutors, scrambled back from looming defeat Wednesday at The Q with a 98-95 victory that pushed their consecutive winning streak to 24 games.

To get there, the Heat entertained, delighted, tormented and ultimately conflicted the sellout crowd at LeBron James‘ former house. Their old hero from Akron did once again – 25 points, 12, rebounds, 10 assists, three steals, two blocks – what he had do so many times before on that court. But James was doing it to them rather than for them. Eventually the crowd settled into an audible pattern of booing his touches, cheering his highlights.

Afterward, though, Miami knew it had flirted again with failure. The streak had survived, but at a cost of so much effort and energy and desperation that legit doubts have been raised about its prognosis, nine short of matching and 10 short of breaking the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers’ 41-year-old record. In Game 5, on Day 7, at the end of a two-nation, two-time zone road trip, this was not what the Heat needed.

“It’s not a safe way to try to survive with this streak,” Shane Battier said, his feet submerged in ice water when it should have been his trigger finger cooling down. Battier’s three 3-pointers in the third quarter “kick-started,” James said, their team’s breathtaking comeback.

Down 67-40 – 67-40 – with barely seven minutes left in the period, Miami relied on hero shots by Battier, then Ray Allen and then James to catch and pass the Cavaliers. The Heat did it in a whoosh! – closing the gap completely in a span of about nine minutes. Inside the arena, the sounds from the stands added a nervous murmur; Cleveland players grew hesitant, with heavy legs and a hitch in their game that hadn’t been there moments earlier.

From the Cavs’ fattest lead to their deepest hole, they got outscored 58-28 by the defending champions. Stunning, sure. But it was gut-wrenching for Miami, too. James played 42 minutes. Dwyane Wade 38 and Chris Bosh 35. If they were going to try to win the game with one half tied behind their backs, they should have nailed down the first and sat through the second.

“It’s great that we showed resolve and heart, but we have to play better,” Battier said. “We have to play better from the first quarter. That’s the good news. We’ve won however many in a row and we still have room for improvement.”

That’s a half-full interpretation. But Heat coach Erik Spoelstra knew his bag of coaching tricks was about empty when they saw that 27-point problem.

“At first I didn’t know what to say to our guys,” Spoelstra said. “I’ve been in games like that on the other side of it … What happened there in the third quarter wasn’t necessarily a designed offense, it was just those guys being great and making big shots.”

Battier recently talked about the 22-game winning streak he was part of in Houston in 2007-08 and how a draining performance in No. 22 left the Rockets staggered for the one that ended it. Now Miami has stacked up two such games in 48 hours, thanks to scraping through the draining, down-17 victory at Boston Monday. At this rate, it won’t take Chicago (in what could be No. 28 of the streak) or San Antonio (No. 30) to end it; after what the Cavs almost did, the Pistons, Bobcats and Magic ought to be emboldened. This is going to get harder before it’s over, or it might just get over.

“It’s been two games in a row where we got off to the type of start that we didn’t want to,” Spoelstra said. “That’s because we’ve been playing on our heels and catching teams [playing] more aggressive. [It took] some embarrassing minutes and down 27 for us to change our position.”

What would have been a memorable night in Cleveland might end up as a forgettable performance elsewhere for Miami. You almost think they’d be better off staring straight at the streak, admitting that it matters and going hard after it for its own sake. Sneaking up on it like it’s a happy by-product of “the process” is catching up with them.

“When we so-called flip a switch,” Battier said, “we finally say, ‘Y’know what, we have to play hard. We have to play with more concentration. We have to play with more effort.’

Again, it’s not a very safe way to survive in this league. It will take a more consistent effort than being able to turn on the jets.”

33 Comments

  1. Bryan says:

    only one team stands in the heat’s way for the championship, and it’s not OKC. nuff said……

  2. usbuck says:

    Bron, Bron is the Best! The GOAT!

    • terrell meadows says:

      dont you ever call him the goat!!! there can only be one goat and he is retired……

  3. Croatia Basketball says:

    That look at the end of the video… Reminds me of MJ.

  4. Julia Roberts says:

    I am a huge Miami / Bron / Wade / Bosh fan. I was glad to see that we overcame and defeated Cleavland from a deep hole. But this is not the way I expect my hero’s play. They should start strong and finish strong. They have to play all 48 minutes consistently.

    I wish we go to 39 straight regular season victories and beyond.

  5. Taco Time says:

    lol They are trying to win now and by the time they start the playoffs they will be DONE lol

    • showbaba Canada says:

      What if they are not done what wouuld you do? Join the Miami fans, wait and see Miami all the way to the championship.

  6. Big Al says:

    It would have been really depressing to lose to the Celtics, let alone Cavs, but the Heat fought their hardest and came back to win by a nose on both occasions. LeBron did express his concerns on hostile environments with bitter rivals in Boston, and he obviously had to deal with even more atrocity when he went back to Cleveland where many wanted him dead.

    The streak will certainly end and I doubt that they will beat the ’72 Lakers’ record of 33, but the game has changed a lot since. We’ve witnessed in the past two years that the worst teams could beat the best (Wizards beat Thunder during this season and the last). But I do hope that Miami won’t lose to a really low team. The streak is still too good to end so badly.

  7. theholyspectator says:

    that game was insane…i cant believe i witnessed that..lol cavs swore they had that game won…how do you blow a 27 point lead? oh well

  8. Jocker says:

    Keep on the BULLS are going to destroy the heat

    • HEATFANSINCEWADE says:

      LOL thats whats the other 24 loosers have said. Your bull will make number 28! Enjoy cause for 28 the Heat will have Bulls(steak) for dinner lol.

  9. Jaime says:

    Miami is doing to much effort to keep the streak alive and and all of this its just for ego and statistical status, they are wasting to much energy on this and the playoff are coming very soon, they ´will regret it there.

  10. W/E says:

    the cavs blow

  11. ELISEO SORIANO OLDPATH says:

    Yes, Chris Andersen is the X-FACTOR on Heat Team…
    They just need a Veteran point guard like Gilbert Arenas,
    or a shooter like Michael Redd…
    Hope they wont get drain in Playoffs time.
    REPEAT CHAMPION 2013….

    -Daniel Razon Oldpath

    • many says:

      i beleve bird man was an execelent pick up i was shocked to see eddy Carry traded from miami since we need size on low joakim Noa then this heat team will be supper good. Miami has been playing catch up with lesser team all year long but now because of the streak and prime time more people are noticing it.

    • jhbh says:

      More like a shooter like Ray Allen, Shane Battier, or Mike Miller…………. oh wait

  12. joe says:

    24 wins, i am not impressed. It’s a bunch of wins for a voluntarily formed dream team: its a natural consequence of imposing oneself on a dream team- it’s not like they’re overcoming adversity.

    • jhbh says:

      superstars have been teaming up like this for a very long time, and only once has a streak been longer, nut up and recognize the significance and the impressiveness of the streak. many teams have had future HOFers playing together and not even sniffed a streak like this, just ask the current lakers team

    • HEATFANSINCEWADE says:

      HAHAHAHA say again? your not impressed by 24 in a row? go watch curling! Any NBA team can beat another on any given night! This streak is amazing and very hard to accomplish. They have beaten every team in the league this year and even beat great teams in their own arenas. Get a grip hater! Watch history happen and enjoy.

  13. dattebayo says:

    As a basketball fan, I really enjoyed a lot of Heat games and they are fun to watch. However I really don’t like that showboating attitude and them toying with lesser opponents. If you are a top 3 team in this league, how can you fall behind by 27 against a team as bad as Cleveland, that is also missing their three best players? It’s not impressive that you can come back and win it by 1, that game ought to be over by halftime, they ought to win by double digits and have their starters sit the entire 4th quarter.

    Yeah, I get that it’s a better show and increases the ratings, but I don’t like that mentality. On the bright side, all the haters have gone quiet about the Heat struggling to close games :)

    • GottaLoveLebron says:

      It’s not a matter of them “letting” the Cavs get that much of a lead. Obviously, the league is very competitive. This is the NBA man, a professional league. Obviosly the Cavs have won over 20 games against other professional NBA teams as well. Sometimes things just dont’ go right for you. There is a reason there are 82 games (at least 2 against each team) and playoff series are best 4 out of 7. Beating a team one time doesn’t mean they are better, but it happens and it happens a lot. Otherwise, why even play the game. They should have just declared Miami the winner from the get-go.

      • dattebayo says:

        The Heat didn’t play good defense, they let the Cavs get easy offensive rebounds (one rebound went right by Chalmers and Bosh, who were just standing around, looking at each other instead of getting after it), they took a lot of jumpshots and above all, they didn’t play hard. Yes, this is the NBA, but don’t tell me that the Heat gave it their best effort and were unable to outscore the Cavs.

        When the Heat started defending in the 2nd half, the Cavs were so confused on what to do, that they just threw the ball away on multiple occasions. Ray Allen didn’t get those 5 steals playing aggressive on ball defense, they threw the ball right at him several times.

  14. Moody says:

    since the addition of BirdMan the Heat have become so solid and strong i’m such a huge fan of their style of play and how professional and athletic they all are. what a wonderful thing it is to see those guys play. cha-ching NBA.

  15. prix says:

    this is just another day of the Heat…nothing serious…they will keep on winning!!!

  16. Jack says:

    i was reluctant to switch channel when i saw that 27 points advantage of the Cavs, but i really know and trust this Heat team that they can catch up,..whooosh in a matter of 9 mins, that lead was gone,. Hats Off to you KING Lebron,.. you really becoming the leader of this team, to DWADE who embraces the role as robin to that team,..Ego’s has been separated to this team thats why they are becoming the force to reckon with..To CAVS, i wish you luck next time, by the way as long as you continue humiliate LBJ’s talent, you will stocked into that rebuilding process with your owner DG, i guess he was shaking his head while seeing the man he thought will never succeed, and tormenting destroying his team, anyway move on DG,..HATE should gone…

  17. ELISEO SORIANO OLDPATH says:

    Thanks Steve for noticing the win of Heat…

    Miami has an Elite Coach to handle the Superstars,
    Great Rhythm, Total Team Effort by MIAMI…
    For sure they will be back in Finals again…
    The come from behind win is so Difficult…
    COY will be Erik Spo with an Excellent job…
    Hope Miami could get a veteran point guard like Gilbert Arenas,
    he is ready to play and contribute to the Team…
    MIAMI all day… –Daniel Razon Oldpath

    • jose says:

      Time to give up to a weak team , than to a tougher one;
      HEAT needs to rest for the Playoffs.
      For 28 and 30 ,Chicago and SAS are not going to bring their best since , they prefer to rest the roster.
      It is nice and it is OK , but the championship counts for the most.
      Time to get a rest guys…

  18. NUMBER 24 says:

    It’s a great win for us heat! with so much heart to win it… Go Heat! 2013 Champions….

  19. Toro says:

    Those two games that Heat didn’t get off well were in place very hostile and inconvenient to the Miami team. Althought Clev lost many games to Miami earlier, it was many times an awkward matchup, and about Celts need we say more? So I guess that next 2 home games gonna give them breath, it’s time to get a grip.