Heat Clinch Playoffs with 17th Straight; James Would Tie Jordan with win over Pacers
With the Chicago Blackhawks loss, the Miami Heat now have the longest active win streak among pro teams. LeBron James dominated the Philadelphia 76ers for 34 minutes Friday, beating them by 19 points during the 34 minutes he was on the court on 10 of 17 shooting, and if the Heat can beat the Pacers at home Sunday, James matches Michael Jordan's longest winning streak at 18.
The Heat also became the first team to clinch a playoff spot, but they are chasing the great Bulls champions this year, not the rest of the league. The 76ers managed to get the score to a respectable 102-93 final with James resting almost the entire fourth quarter.
The comparisons are impossible to avoid. While Jordan hit fewer than 50% of his shots in his career, James is now shooting over 56% this year despite shooting many more three-pointers than Jordan, which usually holds overall percentages down. James is hitting over 40% from beyond the arc.
The Scottie Pippin vs. Dwyane Wade comparisons may need to start as well, as Wade hit nine of 16 Friday and is shooting over 52% from the floor this year.
James added a dominant 10 rebounds to his 25 point outing, meaning the "point forward," as he was labeled for his ability to be the best point guard on the court and the best forward, has improved his inside game enough to be a "forward-center" as well.
Wade added 22 points.
While James and Wade can tie Jordan and Pippen's 18-game win streak Sunday at home, they are against a Pacers team that has been one of the toughest. The Atlanta Hawks then come to town Monday in a potential 19th straight win for Miami if they survive Sunday.
The New York Knicks had given the Heat the most trouble, with two 20-point wins earlier this year. But when the Heat came back to beat the Knicks during the streak, teams started to wonder if the Heat was now at another level. If they can also now show they have solved the Pacers, after also easily handling Oklahoma City on the road right before the All-Star break, then the only question people may be asking is if the Heat or the Chicago Blackhawks are the best winter pro team.