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Heat extend win streak to 20 but Sixers make them work for it

Mar 13, 2013, 10:29 PM EDT

In the first half of the season, this was the kind of game the Heat would lose — a back-to-back, a fired up opponent playing better than they have in weeks, and the Heat just kind of coasting.

With an 8.5 game lead over the No. 2 in the East, it’s the kind of game they might have lost now, too, if their winning streak didn’t give them something to play for.

But it does and once again the Heat made just enough plays down the stretch to beat the Sixers 98-94 and extend their winning streak to 20 games. This was the third time the Heat have beaten the Sixers in this streak.

With the win, the Heat are 10-1 on the second night of a back-to-back this season with the win. Which isn’t as impressive as 20-straight wins (the Heat are only the fourth team in NBA history to get to 20) but it is impressive nonetheless.

When you are the defending champs on a win streak lesser teams get up to play you — the Magic did it last week — and the Sixers came out with a real energy at home. Evan Turner had eight early points and when you throw in six Heat turnovers you get Philly on an 11-2 run and an early small lead. It was 22-21 Philly after one.

But you knew the Heat run was coming. It did in the Heat in the second quarter with an 11-0 run when they went to a lineup of Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, LeBron and Chris Bosh. It eventually grew to a 17-2 run. The Heat were able to get to the rim and score on easy buckets (usually a LeBron jam) meanwhile the Sixers were settling for jumpers and shot 8-of-23 in the second. It was Heat 51, Sixers 39 at halftime and LeBron had 18.

Where the Sixers deserve credit is they didn’t just come out and mail in the second half. Instead they came out early in the third quarter on a 13-4 run that included a lot of hustle plays like Jrue Holiday getting the rebound on his own miss. Holiday finished with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Thaddeus Young had the other good game for Philly with 24 points and 15 rebounds.

When Dorell Write knocked down a three, then stole the ball on the next Heat possession, ran out in front and threw down the slam it was a four-point game midway through fourth quarter.

After a Holiday three (his third of the second half) the Sixers had an 83-82 lead with 5:20 left. The Sixers went on a 15-2 run.

But where the Heat might have coasted before they played with enough energy down the stretch because they wanted the streak. Bosh hit an awkward-looking hook from the post and later pump faked Spencer Hawes and drove for the layup.

LeBron was driving and scoring, he finished with 27 points on 19 shots. Holiday was trying but missing some contested looks. Ray Allen drained a three to give the Heat the lead for good (Allen had 12 points). And when it mattered, the LeBron and Wade each hit their free throws. And Bosh had a block of Young that sealed the game.

The Heat still wanted it at the end and they had more talent to put on the floor than the Sixers. That passion to still get the win is what the streak has given the Heat when they might otherwise be back to coasting and waiting for the playoffs to start.

  1. paintman34 - Mar 13, 2013 at 10:32 PM

    way to acknowledge wade’s put back and just Wade in general

  2. obnoxioushack - Mar 13, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    Dorell “Write”?

  3. 1972wasalongtimeago - Mar 13, 2013 at 11:04 PM

    Not about the streak. Not about whether the Heat played well tonight. It’s about being put in late game situations on the road and getting used to making game winning plays. Its about LeBron being on the line at the end of the game shooting free throws he has to make and making them. It’s about the deep trust they’ve developed in themselves and each other over 2.5 years of adversity growing even stronger so that they just know they’re going to make the plays they need to make. And it’s their opponents knowing it too.

    Tough games coming up against Mil and Bos. Those teams will be playing with nothing to lose and everything to gain. We’ll see what happens.

    • miamatt - Mar 14, 2013 at 9:37 AM

      Well said.

      As a Heat fan of course I’d like to see them make a run at the Lakers’ record, but what is really impressive is the way they have completely handled the best teams they played during this period, whether at home or on the road.

      Your point about late game situations is probably the biggest difference between this Heat team and the 2010-11 version. Remember when it was dicey if the Heat didn’t blow out their opponent? Now they thrive in close games. There is no nervousness or hesitation with LeBron holding the ball late when Miami needs a bucket. No cringing when he goes to the line in a critical situation. Who takes the last shot? Who cares? It’s gonna be the guy with the best shot; when the Heat put the big three out there with Allen and Battier/Chalmers EVERYBODY on the floor is ready to take a game winning (or losing) shot.

      The playoffs are a different animal but Miami has shown from last year’s playoffs until now that when the lights shine brightest, the Heat burn hottest.

  4. progress2011 - Mar 13, 2013 at 11:13 PM

    These guys are clicking on ALL CYLINDERS !!!

    The only question is…..are they peaking too early.

    • hwatt - Mar 14, 2013 at 12:11 AM

      they only started playing for real after the all-star break. They’ll have plenty of juice for the Finals. Next year they can go for the legendary 73-9 mark (bulls fan here).

      • davidly - Mar 14, 2013 at 9:42 AM

        That ain’t gonna happen. Those Bulls had three HoFers with a future HoFer and a 6th MotY off the bench during an expansion year. Not to mention a HoF coaching staff/system/ownership with just the right mix of talent.

        I realize that these facts alone haven’t much to do with the Heat, but it is an indication of what a seventy-win team will have to be made of. As good as Miami is, I don’t see it.

    • jimmymarlinsfan - Mar 14, 2013 at 1:16 AM

      Peaking too early? Really?

      Really?

      • badintent - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:33 AM

        Ask the Spurs about that on last season great record and El Playoff Collapso

      • jimmymarlinsfan - Mar 14, 2013 at 12:09 PM

        Ok, but the Heat aren’t a team full of 38 year olds and we have the best player on the planet. Try again

  5. asublimeday - Mar 14, 2013 at 3:13 AM

    I hate that PBT writers are dumb enough to think me casually scrolling through each and every story on my phone counts as a hit to every heat story. I could not be less interested. Hit me up when they notch 72 wins

  6. mungman69 - Mar 14, 2013 at 3:50 AM

    Bad, BAD, grammar. Is THAT how you spell grammar?

  7. supremekingz - Mar 14, 2013 at 5:24 AM

    Sorry to burst your bubble guys, but no other team will reach 72 wins and it has nothing to do with talent. Chicago is located almost directly in the center of the country. A west coast trip or east coast trip for them isn’t the same lag as teams in other coasts because they’re more or less central and they had an epic, hall of game lineup.

    Phil Jackson has said this himself. The Heat are a legendary team, but there’s no way they can win 73 games all the way in Miami having to travel to Portland, or LA, or any of the other west coast teams. Jet lag is real

  8. broadstbully - Mar 14, 2013 at 6:57 AM

    supremekingz,

    Did the Bulls not have to travel from the WC to the EC (or vice versa) in that season at all? If they did, were those the games they lost? If not, that point is invalid. However, you’re the first person I’ve heard use that argument, and, unless the actual flight plans show otherwise, it’s a solid one.

  9. gbpxlvi - Mar 14, 2013 at 7:32 AM

    Good thing I purchased tickets to Fridays bucks/heat game to see the streak end

  10. loungefly74 - Mar 14, 2013 at 7:57 AM

    El Heat are just nasty.

  11. rodge1 - Mar 14, 2013 at 8:02 AM

    @badintent

    Comparing the Spurs to the Heat is silly considering Miami won it all last year… That was a nice try to take from Miami’s streak though. Too bad you’re not as smart as you think.

  12. southbeachtalent - Mar 14, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    That reverse dunk was sick.

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