If you haven’t heard, the sub .500 Miami Heat are the hottest team in basketball. Last night’s 106-88 win over Milwaukee gave Miami its 12th straight victory. The Heat haven’t lost since January 13th, nearly a full calendar month. It’s always rare when a losing team strings together a lengthy winning streak. What the Heat are accomplishing, though, has never been witnessed.
Miami Heat Winning Streak Now at 12
Miami’s 12 game run marks the longest winning streak by a losing team in NBA history. Before the streak started, Miami was 11-30. Now, the Heat are tenth in the East, in position to sneak into the playoffs. The Heat sit only two games back of the eighth-seeded Pistons.
You may be wondering, how on Earth did Miami turn its fortunes around in the New Year? This is a team that lost Josh McRoberts and Justise Winslow to season-ending injuries, then had Josh Richardson and Dion Waiters miss time with sprained ankles.
During the 12-game streak, Miami’s offence has been “Heat”ing up, for lack of a better word. The Heat have registered 100 or more points in all but one game, while shooting an efficient 49.5 and 43.2 percent on field goals and three-point field goals during the streak. Miami’s newfound offensive efficiency is partially a result of improved leadership from point guard Goran Dragic. He’s been at the forefront of Miami’s offensive renaissance.
Miami’s floor general has averaged 22.9 points and 6.8 assists, while shooting an astounding 59.8 from the field. With Dragic’s production at an all-time high (he’s on pace to eclipse his previous season-high averages of 20.3 points and 5.9 assists in 2013-14), it’s no surprise that its translating into wins for his team. At 30 years old, Dragic provides veteran leadership to the Heat, given he’s Miami’s third oldest player behind Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh. Dragic’s leadership has been huge all season, especially for the development of the Heat’s young players.
Next Man Up
Speaking of those young players, eight of Miami’s sixteen roster spots have players in their first seasons with the Heat. Of those eight, three are rookies, with one other having just one season of NBA experience. It’s incredible a team lacking that much experience has managed twelve straight wins. The new additions have filled in admirably, with guys like James Johnson and Wayne Ellington having career years. Dion Waiters‘ clutch-gene can’t be overlooked either. Before spraining his ankle, Waiters nailed two-game winners during the Heat’s streak.
Kudos must go out to Pat Riley. Instead of completely tanking, Riley strategically filled his roster with players that could support Dragic or Whiteside as the franchise stars. Making the playoffs has always been wired into Riley’s DNA. And after a rough start to the season, this Heat team is finally gelling the way Riley envisioned it would. A playoff berth certainly isn’t out of the question.
Miami looks to extend its winning streak to 13 games, Friday against Brooklyn.
February 27, 2015 – Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) during the game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Miami Heat at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)