Are the Miami Heat the Next ’72 Lakers?

The Miami Heat have been under much scrutiny since the addition of superstars LeBron James and Chris Bosh in 2010. The formation of the big 3 – LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh – put the Heat on the map again after their 2006 NBA championship win. The 2010-11 season had a heartbreaking end for the Heat, as they lost to the Dallas Mavericks 4-2 in a best-of-seven game series. In the 2011-12 season, the Heat finally found their rhythm. With a shortened season due to the NBA lockout, the Heat finished the regular season with 46 wins and 20 losses. They continued to the playoffs, beating the New York Knicks, the Indiana Pacers, the Boston Celtics, and finally, the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Heat won another championship, and LeBron James finally got the ring he so desperately desired.

This season, the returning champions mean business. The Miami Heat are currently on a 22-game winning streak, tying the 2007-08 Houston Rockets for the second longest winning streak in NBA history. The Heat have beaten strong teams such as the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Indiana Pacers and the Los Angeles Clippers by double digits. Now that he has fully recovered from his off-season knee surgery, Heat veteran Dwyane Wade has been outplaying superstar LeBron James. In the last 10 games, Wade has outscored James by an average of over three points. Wade has also been shooting 60 percent from the field, averaging 2.8 steals per game and giving an average of 5.7 assists per game. James has been shooting 50.9 percent from the field while averaging 1.7 steals were game. Fortunately, there is no personal competition between the two all-stars and they continue to lead the Heat together.

While the Heat don’t like to talk about their streak, others are watching their every move. The 2012-2013 is being compared to the NBA championship-winning 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.  The ’72 Lakers had a 33-game win streak, the longest in the NBA, and went on to win the national championship that year. While the Rockets reached the same 22-game win streak, nobody thought they could challenge the 33-game run of the ’72 Lakers due to the mid-run loss of star center Yao Ming. However, the ’72 Lakers are starting to feel threatened by the dominant Miami Heat.

Bill Sharman, the Hall of Fame coach of the ’72 Lakers, said to Fox Sports Florida, “It is certainly a possibility that the Heat could break our 33-game winning streak.  The record has held for 41 years, and all of us that participated in it are very proud to have been a part of it.  However, [Heat president] Pat Riley has put together an amazing team, and I have to admit this one makes me a little nervous.”  

Pat Riley, the man behind the 2010 assembly of Miami’s big three, was a guard on the ’72

Lakers team.  

Sharman isn’t the only Laker whom the Heat are making nervous. 

Hall of Fame guard Gail Goodrich said to Fox Sports Florida, “I’d say this is the most serious challenge we’ve had to our streak.  I think they [the Heat] will make a very, very, very serious run at our record, they might even break it.”  

The Heat have made it quite far, but still have a long way to go. While they are done with the Thunder for the season, they still have some

challenging games in their schedule. 

While their season is far from over, winning 22 consecutive games has been an amazing feat.  The Milwaukee Bucks, one of the five teams with a streak of 20 games or higher, continued to win the NBA championship in ’71. Their accomplishment of a 20-game winning streak was so monumental that their championship rings were engraved with “20 straight.” 

Shane Battier, a current Heat team member and former member of the 2007-08 Rockets, said the 20-game streak was “the most lightning-in-a-bottle moment of my career.” 

If the Heat continue to play like they are now and the players remain healthy, they have the

potential to be a championship team once again.

The Heat’s 105-103 win over the Celtics this past Monday further proved their domination in the league. The Celtics had previously ended the Rocket’s 22-game winning streak, and they hoped to do the same to the Heat. In the last two years, the rivalry between the Heat and the Celtics has reached an all-time high. Ray Allen, a former Celtic and member of the 2008-09 team that had a 19-game win streak, said that the only goal of the Heat is to “stay focused and keep grinding it out.”  

When asked what a win would mean, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers said to ESPN, “I guess, for us, knowing that you can beat them, but we already know that.  We’ve beaten them earlier in the year.  But you still want to beat them, they are the world champs, they are playing great – you don’t need any extra reason to want to beat them.”

The Miami Heat head into the latter part of a season with an even bigger target on their back, but their goal of another championship does not seem so out of reach. After the reigning world champs pulled out a win against the Celtics earlier this week, they are one step closer to reaching the 33-game win streak record that the ’72 Lakers hold so dear. 

“That streak, I don’t think ever will be broken,” said Riley in an interview last year with FOX Sports. Only time will tell if this powerful Miami Heat can beat the winning streak record and win consecutive NBA championships.