FILE - In this Dec. 29, 2012, file photo, Milwaukee Bucks' Monta Ellis (11) drives to the basket against Miami Heat's LeBron James during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Milwaukee. The Bucks won 104-85. Winners of 20 games in a row, the Heat could be headed toward history. The Bucks, who host the Heat on March 15, 2013, are one team looking for their opportunity to stop the streak. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching, File)
Friday, March 15, 2013 4:00 am
When, and where, might the streaking Heat fall?
By BRIAN MAHONEYAP Basketball Writer
The NBA record is 33 consecutive victories in a single season, set by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1971-72. The Heat became the fourth team to win at least 20 in a row in a season when they beat the Philadelphia 76ers 98-94 on Wednesday night, and they would tie the record if they make it to their next matchup against the 76ers on April 6 without a loss.
But even LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the rest of the defending NBA champions have to fall at some point soon - don't they?
Here are some of possible times and places they could stumble.
TONIGHT AT MILWAUKEE: Wade was a college star at Marquette and Ray Allen is the Bucks' leader in career 3-pointers, yet playing in Milwaukee doesn't seem to agree with the Heat. The Bucks beat them by 19 in December and took a game at home last season, too. Friday night's matchup is a potential first-round playoff preview, and the Heat may want to send a message that it won't be competitive.
MARCH 18 AT BOSTON: If the streak is intact, the Heat would be going for the second-longest, single-season streak at 23 games. To get it, they'd have to win in a place where they've dropped 16 of their last 18 games, including the Celtics' stirring double-overtime victory in January on the day they learned Rajon Rondo was lost for the season. Of course, James could just seize the game like he did during his epic 45-point, 15-rebound performance in Game 6 of last year's Eastern Conference finals. That one was in Boston.
MARCH 25 AT ORLANDO: The Heat needed a basket by James with 3.2 seconds left to beat the Magic on March 6 at home for win No. 16 in the streak. With the game now in Orlando and the Heat playing for the second straight night, can the Magic finish the job and deny what would be No. 27?
MARCH 31 AT SAN ANTONIO: The Easter Sunday matchup, when the Heat could be going for 30 in a row, might be the most intriguing game left on their schedule. The Spurs nearly beat the Heat in Miami last November. That was even after the Spurs had sent Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green home early from a road trip to rest, drawing a $250,000 fine from the NBA. With the Spurs fighting for the No. 1 seed in the West, they could well throw everybody they have available at the Heat this time.
APRIL 2 AT MIAMI: The first game back from a road trip is never easy, and here the Heat come home from four games to face a Knicks team that's already beaten them twice and had a 16-point lead in the third matchup, before the Heat rallied for a six-point victory that gave them 14 straight wins. The Knicks have broken South Beach hearts before (see: Houston, Allan) and an upset with the Heat just three victories shy of matching history might hurt even more.
APRIL 15 AT CLEVELAND: With the Heat playing their final road game of the season and with home-court advantage already wrapped up, maybe James rests up and never takes his talents off the bench while visiting old home. Perhaps Wade sits out, too, and the streak ends at 37.
JUNE 11 AT TBD: Trailing 2-0 in the title series, the Western Conference champion beats Miami in Game 3 at home, halting a streak that began Feb. 3 in Toronto - on Super Bowl Sunday - and lasts all the way to the NBA Finals, a run of 53 consecutive victories. Fans everywhere wonder: How will the Heat rebound in Game 4?
Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoney