LeBron James and the Miami Heat have not lost in more than a month. (Justin Lane / EPA )
The Miami Heat set a franchise record with a 15th straight victory Monday night, 97-81 over the Minnesota Timberwolves. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and company have not lost since Feb. 1 and play their next four games at home.
Just how far will this go? Writers from around Tribune Co. discuss when we can expect to put another notch in the loss column for the defending NBA champs. Feel free to join the discussion with a comment of your own.
Dave Hyde, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
After 22 straight wins, it will be the schedule-maker, as opposed to the Boston Celtics, that beats the Heat on March 18. This is how it happens in the NBA, where regular-season wins and losses have to be measured by the schedule.
The contest with the Celtics is the third road game in four days for the Heat. They play at Milwaukee (March 15), at Toronto (March 17) and then in Boston. Boston, meanwhile, only plays lowly Charlotte in the four nights leading up to the game.
The Celtics aren't a great team anymore, but they have enough parts that, when rested, can rise to a big moment. This will qualify.
K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune
Ignoring the temptation to predict "never," the Miami Heat will lose on March 15 to the Milwaukee Bucks. Twenty straight victories seem enough. Plus, the Bucks always play the Heat tough. Coach Jim Boylan has the Bucks playing well since taking over for former coach Scott Skiles, whose defensive schemes pack the paint to limit penetration. Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings will place extreme pressure on the vaunted Heat defense, particularly on Mario Chalmers.
The Bucks won the previous meeting in Milwaukee by 19 points, and they improved themselves at the trade deadline with the acquisition of sharpshooter J.J. Redick. The Bucks feature the kind of physical, annoying defenders that occasionally frustrate LeBron James, though of course he's rarely completely stopped. Regardless, it'll be a Fear the Deer night as the Bucks will prevail.
[Updated at 11:19 a.m. March 5:
Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times
OK, just kidding.
But some team is going to have to play at their best to stop the Heat because the way Miami is playing during this franchise-best 15-game winning streak, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and company are not going to beat themselves.
The next two games for the Heat are in Miami against Orlando and Philadelphia, two teams with losing records. That means Miami will extend its winning streak to 17 in a row, which would tie this season’s NBA-best winning streak set by the Clippers.
Then Miami plays at home against an Indiana team that has beat the Heat twice this season. Count on the Heat not letting the Pacers wrap up the season series. That makes 18 in a row.
Then the Heat gets Atlanta at home. Make that 19 in a row.
Man, maybe I was right. The Heat will never lose again.
If I have to pick a game the Heat will lose, let’s say at Philadelphia on Wednesday, March 13.
But you never know!
The Miami Heat are the class of the NBA until another team knocks them off in the playoffs — if another team knocks them off in the playoffs.
I don’t think any Eastern Conference team can beat them in a best-of-seven playoff series.
But the team with the best chance, the Indiana Pacers, also will face them this Sunday in Miami.
And that’ll be a dangerous game for the Heat, relatively speaking.
The Pacers will have a chance because they play superb defense. The Pacers entered Tuesday ranked first in the NBA in defensive efficiency, limiting opponents to 95.5 points per 100 possessions.
Indiana also has one of the league’s better centers, 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert.
In any other era, Hibbert would be considered average. But these days, he’s one of the sport’s few quality centers. If he’s playing his best, he can give the Heat some problems.]
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