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The heat from a streak finally cooled...for now

By Kevin Lange
Posted Apr 5, 2013 in Sports
Great things can’t last forever. Michael Jordan’s career tried to. The popularity of rapper Soulja Boy wanted to and failed (thank God). 80-cent burritos at Taco Bell had their shot. We can finally add the history-chasing winning streak of the Miami Heat to the prestigious list. 27 straight games they won without a loss; that’s almost two months! Despite LeBron James’ eroding hairline, the guy isn’t old in age (28), but it started to become a legitimate question as to if he and his teammates forgot how to lose. That said, here’s some of how the world thought last Tuesday, the day prior to Miami’s game in Chicago…
You’ll find the red-suited Waldo before you find a red ‘L’ anywhere within the past quarter of Miami’s entire schedule. In other words, the Heat win as often as Brett Favre changes his mind. Good luck betting against them. Let’s hope Ohio native Pete Rose doesn’t try to undermine the whole stay-away-from-the-word-‘gamble’ enforcement and feel any sense of hope for a hopeless hoops team down the road in Cleveland. I can take the mic from Heat P.A. announcer Michael Baiamonte on this one and just say, “Throw the roses down on Rose. May Pete rest in peace. P.S. Don’t bet against the Heat; it’ll burn you and your bank account.”
Enough about betting as a fan; try beating as a player! This is about the time I’d refer back to that overused quote “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Looks like Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis got the memo.
As untouchable as Miami’s victory tally may be in the past 60 days, the eccentricity of their journey is as touchable as a streak of wins can get, as it, at times, has shown to be worthy of spectators shaking their heads in dismay. LeBron can do his triumphant downward palm shove and extended kick in celebration of 4th quarter success—which, frankly, is silencing one of few flaws in the King’s repertoire—as much as he so pleases, but the truth is inevitable that these wins, which are nearing a historical feat, aren’t as significant as they may seem. Like it or not.
LeBron recently implied that their streak is more significant than the 1971-72 Lakers’ streak of 33 games by proclaiming that “the league is more stronger today,” given the inexistence of the ABA. Agreeable, LeBron. But you allowed to get down by 27 to the 13th seeded Cavaliers, 17 to the shorthanded Celtics, 11 to the 12th seeded Pistons, and battled right down to the wire with the 9th seeded Sixers, 14th seeded Magic, worst-in-the-league Bobcats, 7th seeded Rockets, 12th seeded Kings, and many playoff contending teams. Miraculously, you managed to come back and win all of them. Get this: That hippy Lakers team’s average margin of victory was almost 50 percent more than the Heat’s.
Of course, the longevity of this ongoing winning streak of, may I say, barely-over-par victories is the significance of this all. Not necessarily the way it’s getting done. A ‘W’ is a ‘W’, right? That is, until it’s an ‘L’.
Then Wednesday happened.
We watched a Noah-less, Hamilton-less, Belinelli-less, and obviously, Rose-less 5-seed outplay a 1-seed. Plain and simple.
We witnessed a Miami Heat team, finally accompanied again by a screw-the-post-injury-rest mentality in Dwyane Wade, as they tried to crawl out of a deficit in an atmosphere full of anti-streak fans—unless it’s Chicago’s winning streak, of course. We were given a spot-on demonstration on how to take a blow-off game for granted because, evidently, the 4th quarter is the only time that defense should be a mental and physical grind, that shot selection should matter, that playing competitively is even gone noticed. No one clinically sane should agree with those three principles, but it damn sure seems like the Heat were playing by it, and have been for a handful of the games throughout their streak.
Honestly, is it not until the end of the 3rd quarter that Spoelstra unglues his mouth and says, “Okay, Wade. Let’s not shoot a bunch of contested leaners in the lane anymore, alright? Get out in transition and let’s try to win. Makin’ history on three; ready?”
Give all due credit to the Chicago Bulls, though. I’d say they were standing ovation-worthy, but the seat-less fans of Chicago’s United Center beat me to it about four quarters ago. Towards the dwindling minutes of the game, an infamous time in which Miami’s superheroes have become notorious for busting out of their restraints, the Bulls simply took over.
We took to fear (or cheer) as Kirk Hinrich tussled on the hardwood for loose balls.
We witnessed Carlos Boozer corral commanding, monstrous rebounds on both ends of the floor.
We saw Taj Gibson feed the nylon from 17 feet out, his extended follow through saying it all for more than enough publications’ headline picture.
Just when we thought there was enough icing on the cake, 5’9” Nate Robinson slithered into the lane before lofting a high-arcing beauty. The ball dropped through with an automatic eruption in Chicago that pounded a stamp on the game. Not to mention, until a Friday victory over the Hornets, it also did on a new streak: Miami—1 loss.
For the sake of a buzz kill, look at the big picture. Miami has a lead in the East more comfortable than a TempurPedic. 11.5 games, in fact, over the Knicks’ 2nd seed in the conference. Chicago will make a solid first-round push or get stomped in the semis, Rose or no Rose. The Heat will, again, ease coast their east coast squad to the finals, and the Bulls will be left spitting dust.
So in the grand scheme of things, a halt to the Miami Heat can be a learning experience for them, something for the Bulls to hang their hat on, and for nobody to overanalyze; it will mean nothing in a month. “Ultimately, we want to win an NBA championship, and along those rides, you have moments along those rides where you can reflect on them,” James later said. “This is one of them.” Apparently, LeBron agrees.

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