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Miami’s Streak Snapped, So What’s Next?
Posted By Joel Brigham On March 27, 2013 @ 11:57 pm In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Before Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls, the Miami HEAT looked loose, but exhausted. Players in the locker room slouched in their chairs, unsmiling, as they prepared for a Chicago Bulls skeleton crew. You’d think a team with that many consecutive wins would be giddy, especially as their Eastern Conference lead widened and the season wound down, but that wasn’t the atmosphere in that locker room before or after the game. These guys looked wiped, and the end result was a really tough road loss that ended their historic winning streak at 27 games.
HEAT guard Dwyane Wade admitted, however, that the streak was never really all that important to him and his teammates.
“It was an unbelievable streak that we were on, but in here, it didn’t feel like this amazing streak,” Wade said. “We were just playing basketball. We were just trying to find ways to win games, and it resulted in 27 wins.”
Every other player in the locker room corroborated those feelings, adding that what really matters is going after a second consecutive title.
“Coach came in and said, ‘Listen, now that it’s over let’s look back on it as something that was great, something that will be talked about for a while,’” Wade said. “But it’s a five-second reflection before we move on to the rest of the season and what’s really important, and that’s winning a championship.”
Chicago showed how challenging that road is going to be, as they pushed and tugged and ripped at LeBron James all night, leading to James committing a flagrant foul on a fourth-quarter Carlos Boozer screen, eyeballing Boozer and slamming his shoulder into the picker. He scored 32 points on 11-for-17 shooting, but his three assists was his lowest output in three weeks, and by the end of the game it was clear he was really frustrated by the defensive intensity of the Bulls.
“I know that a lot of my fouls are not basketball plays,” James said. “First of all, Kirk Hinrich in the first quarter basically grabbed me with two hands and dragged me to the floor, and the last one, Taj Gibson was able to collar me around my shoulder me and bring me to the ground. Those are not defensive basketball plays.
“It’s been happening all year, and I’ve been trying to keep my cool, telling [Coach Spoelstra] not to worry about it too much, but it is getting to me a little bit because every time I try to defend myself, I’ve got to face the consequences. I’m not sitting here crying, because I play the game at a high level of aggression. Some of these plays are on the borderline of a basketball play or not, but it’s frustrating.”
Of course, other teams have frustrated James before and it hasn’t mattered much. These physical plays were just emphasized because they played a role in the team’s first loss since February 1, but despite any hurt feelings, this streak was a miraculous thing to watch, particularly as James transcended to another level during the streak.
It’s sad to see it end, but the HEAT seem to understand that it’s probably better this way.
“Now that it’s over, I’m glad it’s over,” Wade said. “Now we can focus on the last two weeks of the season and getting better and getting prepared for the playoffs.”
Had they broken the record, it would have been only eight days until the end of the regular season. With an 11.5-game lead on the East’s second-best team, they can now do a little bit of resting in preparation of their title defense rather than stress about keeping up a needlessly high intensity in pursuit of history.
At the same time, it’s a little sad to see the historic run come to close. Miami still has plenty left to accomplish, though, and the really good stuff should get underway in mid-April.
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