HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — How far can the Miami Heat take their streak? After Wednesday’s Comeback on the Cuyahoga, and looking at the rest of their schedule, it’s anybody’s guess.
Next up: The down-and-out Detroit Pistons visit AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami (Friday on NBA TV, pregame at 7 p.m.). The Pistons have won only eight road games all season.
Easy pickings, right?
|Heat upcoming schedule|
Well, ask the Denver Nuggets, winners of 31 out of 34 home games, just how easy it was to file away a Philly club Thursday night with a half-dozen road wins. No disrespect, Mr. Flacco, but that’s your Mile High Miracle.
To avoid handing over the mantle of longest active win streak to the Nuggets after they somehow made it 14 in a row Thursday, Miami will need to take care of business in a more focused fashion than a couple of nights ago in LeBron James‘ old gym.
The Heat (53-14) seek consecutive victory No. 25 Friday night, in their quest for the NBA record of 33 straight, against the malfunctioning Pistons, a squad that hasn’t won a game since late last month — nine consecutive losses.
Miami’s upcoming schedule is favorable enough that the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers record-holders should watch with bated breath. To finish out March, Miami plays just two teams with winning records. Still, both of them are on the road and neither Wednesday’s game at Chicago nor a March 31 date at San Antonio will be a walk in the park.
If Miami makes it to April unscathed, the streak will have reached 30 with only New York, Charlotte, Philadelphia and Milwaukee blocking the Heat from destiny.
But before chalking up their next three — vs. Detroit, vs. Charlotte, at Orlando — as automatic W’s, remember that it’s often the dog with the softest bark that bites the hardest.
The Heat’s 24-game win streak, the second-longest in NBA history, is split evenly among current playoff teams and non-playoff teams, and it’s the lottery-bound teams that have been the biggest pains. The Heat’s average margin of victory against playoff teams is 11.5 points compared to 10.3 on the other side. Only one playoff team has battled them to a finish of five points or less — Boston on Monday night, falling 105-103 after losing a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Five non-playoff teams have lost by five, four, one, four and three points. The Magic, Monday’s opponent in Orlando, lost by a point at Miami for Heat win No. 16 on the streak. Not included in the above group is double-overtime loser Sacramento, which wound up down 12 at the final buzzer, 141-129, for Heat win No. 12.
A quick look a Miami’s next six (here’s their remaining 15 games):
TONIGHT: vs. Detroit Pistons (23-46)
Road record: 8-25
Last 10: 1-9
Current streak: Lost 9
vs. Pistons this season: 1-1
SUNDAY: vs. Charlotte Bobcats (16-52)
Road record: 6-28
Last 10: 3-7
Current streak: Won 2
vs. Bobcats this season: 2-0
MONDAY: at Orlando Magic (18-51)
Home record: 10-25
Last 10: 2-8
Current streak: Lost 5
vs. Magic this season: 2-0
WEDNESDAY: at Chicago Bulls (36-31)
Home record: 18-16
Last 10: 4-6
Current streak: Lost 2
vs. Bulls this season: 1-1
MARCH 29: at New Orleans Hornets (23-46)
Home record: 13-21
Last 10: 3-7
Current streak: Won 1
vs. Hornets this season: 1-0
MARCH 31: at San Antonio Spurs (52-16)
Home record: 29-4
Last 10: 7-3
Current streak: Won 3
vs. Spurs this season: 1-0*
*The NBA fined the Spurs $250,000 for coach Gregg Popovich’s decision to send Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green back to San Antonio prior to this game.