Heat streak finally gets challenged
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
CHICAGO — Now the hard part of the schedule arrives for the Miami Heat in their quest to tie and break the longest winning streak in NBA history.
After beating the four worst teams in the Eastern Conference and extending their winning streak to 27 games with Monday’s 108-94 victory against the Orlando Magic, the Heat (56-14) will play four of their next seven games against playoff teams, starting Wednesday at the Chicago Bulls.
All-Star LeBron James stuck to the script as the Heat are six victories from tying the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers’ 33-game winning streak.
“We didn’t have a goal in mind to say, ‘Let’s go on a long consecutive-win streak,’ ” James said. “But our goal is to win every game that we are on the floor. It doesn’t happen like that every night, and we know that. But that is how we approach the game.”
After beating the Magic, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, “We’ll move on to the next game of our business trip. … Each game isn’t going to be perfect, and you have to figure games out.”
Based on record and the standings, the 38-31 Bulls – likely without guard Derrick Rose, who hasn’t played this season as he recovers from a torn knee ligament – present Miami’s biggest challenge since March 10 when the Heat defeated the Indiana Pacers.
In Miami’s last eight games, they have played two playoff teams: the Boston Celtics, seventh place in the Eastern Conference, and the Milwaukee Bucks, eighth in the East.
The Heat are 1-1 against the fifth-place Bulls this season, losing at home 96-89 Jan. 4 and winning in Chicago 86-67 Feb. 21.
“We know that Chicago is going to be tough game for us and playing in that building,” James said. “We want to come out with our game plan. We have to rebound. We have to defend. We have to share the ball.”
Heat guard Dwyane Wade is day to day with a sore right knee but wants to play against the Bulls after missing Miami’s past two games.
After Chicago, the Heat play at the New Orleans Hornets on Friday. Don’t dismiss … [For more on Miami Heat finally get real challenge to winning streak, click here.]