The Heat 27-game winning streak came to an end last night in Chicago. Winning 27 games in a row is pretty remarkable – it’s the 2nd longest winning streak in NBA history – yet I can’t believe how many people were ecstatic to see it come to an end. Personally, I’m upset it’s over. I enjoyed watching history and I appreciated the extra intensity that the streak added to each game.
The Bulls, who were without Noah and Rose, treated last night’s game like it was Game 7 of the Finals. The team and the fans really wanted to see the streak end immediately. The Heat are used to getting everyone’s A game. After not losing in almost two months, the target on your back grows exponentially. That’s how teams like the Cavs built big leads forcing the Heat to turn it on late and sneak out close wins. I wish they kept it turned on all the time but the NBA season is too long to play every game with a playoff-level intensity.
Miami definitely looked lethargic in the first half last night. There was a lot of standing around and only in the 4th quarter did it start to take on that playoff feel. The last four minutes, Lebron became the best version of himself. He took over on offense and defense, as he often does, and tried to will his team back. Unfortunately the deficit was too large to overcome but it was very fun to watch. Lebron playing in the fourth quarter of a close game is about as entertaining as it gets for as a sports fan right now.
Losing is probably not the worst thing for the Heat. As we approach the playoffs, it’s better that they not burn themselves out playing hard night after night to maintain a streak. Now their focus returns solely to winning another title.
If nothing else the streak sent a message to the rest of the league that it probably already knows. There’s no blueprint to beating the Heat and if you have to work as hard as the Bulls did last night to win, then I don’t know how any team is going to take 4 out of 7 against them. There are more talented teams than the Bulls in the league, but when Miami really wants a game, a lot of things have to break your way to beat them. Add to that the fact that the will have home court advantage throughout the playoffs and I don’t see how the Heat lose a best of 7 series. It’s has been and it remains their title to lose.