by: Damon Turbitt
Before the 1971-1972 NBA season, no team in league history had ever won more than 20 consecutive games. Then came the Lost Angeles Lakers. They began that season with a decent 6-3 record, but it surely was nothing compared to what was to come. 33 games later, and with a staggering 39-3 record, their fourth loss came at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, who ironically tied the previous record for consecutive wins with 20 just one season before. It took 36 years for another team to eclipse the 20 consecutive wins mark, but the 2007-2008 Houston Rockets would falter soon after and see their streak end at 22 games.
Well, there’s your little history lesson for the day, kids, and now I digress. What I’m trying to usher in is the fact that the Miami Heat have just won their 21st consecutive game, beating the Milwaukee Bucks eerily enough, and are raising the question of possibly beating the streak of the Lakers set over 40 years ago.
I’ll open my argument by saying that, in my opinion, the Heat are the most talented team in all of basketball. LeBron James will go down as one of the three greatest players to ever step on to the court. Dwayne Wade is a phenomenal guard, and one of the best players in the Association today. Chris Bosh is another star player that is also one of the best in the game, but is overshadowed by Miami’s plethora of talent. They have the best three-point shooter in NBA history in Ray Allen. Shane Battier is both a great defender and a 42.5% shooter from beyond the arc. I could go on, but I will stop there.
Despite all of this, the Heat will not beat the streak that was achieved by Los Angeles, all bias put aside. Is it because they are not one of the greatest teams of all-time? No. This roster should be remembered as one of the best to ever be assembled. But the fact of the matter is that the NBA is not what it used to be. Of course, there has always been a premier level of talent, don’t get me wrong, but the game has evolved exponentially over the last 40 years. Wilt Chamberlain, a member of the ’71-’72 Lakers squad, was a guy who averaged over 35 points per game for an entire season six times. His career season-high averages are 50.4 points per game and 44.8 points per game. Nobody will ever be able to dominate like that ever again because there is too much talent, and athleticism especially, in today’s game.
The Lakers also did not really have a weakness on their roster. They had four Hall-of-Famers (although Elgin Baylor was at the end of his career). They had a great point guard in Jerry West. They had Chamberlain inside. Everybody on the team could shoot – only one player had a shooting percentage worse than 43 percent. The Heat do have a big weakness though, and that is size. Granted, they are 50-14 without size, but they are 30th in the NBA in rebounding. How are they supposed to win 13 more games in a row? Winning 34 consecutive games with their size disadvantage would be an impressive feat.
Plus, you have to look at who the Heat have to play. Here’s a look at their next 13 games:
- @ Toronto
- @ Boston
- @ Cleveland
- vs. Detroit
- vs. Charlotte
- @ Orlando
- @ Chicago
- @ New Orleans
- @ San Antonio
- vs. New York
- @ Charlotte
- vs. Philadelphia
- vs. Milwaukee
Of those 13 games, only four come against playoff teams. But in two days, they have to take on their rival, the Boston Celtics, who are disgusted with the current streak and are more than eager to end it. Paul Pierce said that he hoped for the Miami Heat to lose every game until the end of the season, while Jason Terry pulled his best Mikayla Maroney impression by saying basically that the streak does not impress him, nor does anything that the Heat do. The Celtics want to beat them badly, and this is where I see the streak ending, as Boston will pull out all the stops to end the streak at home.
What if the Heat beat the Celtics though? Well maybe I will type up another blog to further assess the situation. But no matter what, until Miami actually wins their 34th consecutive game, I will not say that it is possible.