(Sports Network) - When discussing the Miami Heat nowadays, the chorus of P
Diddy's "Bad Boy for Life" comes to mind.
"We ain't/go-in nowhere/we ain't/going nowhere"
"We can't be stopped now/cause it's Bad Boy for life"
The Heat are playing like gangbusters with 20 straight wins under their
championship belt and there doesn't appear to be an end in sight.
There are two catalysts for Miami's rampage the past month and a half: First,
ball movement has been exceptional; and, second, and most importantly, arduous
conditioning from the offseason is coming into play with the postseason
Following Wednesday's not-so-easy 98-94 victory on the road against the
Philadelphia 76ers in the back end of consecutive games, Heat coach Erik
Spoelstra was pleased with how his team responded in the face of adversity.
Spoelstra complimented a Sixers group for their speed, energy and youth.
In the end, it came down to being focused and fundamentally sound.
"Regardless of who you're playing or what's laid out in front of you, you
focus on the task at hand, and the guys took that to heart," Spoelstra said.
"I'm sure, I didn't ask, but I'm sure the guys felt a little bit of fatigue
going through there, but everybody has to deal with it."
Spoelstra made no excuses for his team coming off back-to-back performances
versus Atlanta, then having to travel to Philadelphia. The NBA schedule makers
show no pity for any team, including the elite ones.
Miami, which has clinched a playoff berth, has five more back-to-back affairs
until the regular season comes to a close. That's when teams can get a shot in
on the Heat, who know full well that the opposition will be gunning for them,
especially if that ludicrous streak is still intact. Lower-tier teams like the
76ers proved that Wednesday night. Who doesn't want to be David when Goliath is
almost down on his knees?
Spoelstra had this to say about the conditioning of his team: "They take their
instruments, which is their bodies, very seriously. And they understand the
most important thing to our success is their health and also the conditioning.
And that started all the way back in training camp."
A "grueling" camp as Spoelstra described it helped the Heat build speed, pace
and space, with a "great deal of running" to allow the players' bodies to get
stronger as the droning season goes on. Spoelstra said athleticism is critical
and very necessary for the way Miami plays, an up-tempo style that tries to
run the opposition off the floor.
However, during this deluge of victories, it hasn't all been peaches and
cream. The Sixers played them tough. Atlanta wouldn't back down the day
before. Even Orlando pulled up two points short of triumph and Sacramento took
Miami into double overtime. Heck, Charlotte of all teams gave Miami a run for
its money, but in the Heat's defense they were playing the second game of a
Superstar LeBron James was asked about blowing double-digit leads when it
appeared the game was in hand and what triggers the team in those moments.
"Don't panic. We just don't panic. Our main goal is to win a game, not to blow
a team out," James said. "Whatever the case may be, we just want to play the
game. Wherever the game takes us in those 48 minutes, we're ready for it. When
we have a lead and we lose it, and the other team takes the lead, either if
we're at home or on the road, we don't panic. We're a veteran ballclub, and we
just go down and try to execute offensively, and try to get a stop."
In hindsight, the Heat won't make every shot or come up with a stop every time
down the floor. That's where teams can make their move. When and if that
happens remains to be seen. Spoelstra said he hates it when the Heat blow a
significant lead and the game turns into a grudge match much like Wednesday's
see-saw battle at the end in Philadelphia.
"When it does come to that, all these experiences help you," Spoelstra said.
"We've been in a lot of late-game situations where we've had to find different
ways to win and those experiences will be needed in the postseason."
Speculation as to whether the Heat can close out the regular season without a
loss is beginning to surface. A little bit of luck has aided the Heat, too,
during the longest winning streak by a defending champion. The East's top seed
is two wins away from matching Houston's 22-game run set during the 2007-08
campaign, while the 33 consecutive victories by the Los Angeles Lakers in
1971-72 is tops.
Miami, which is 13-0 since the All-Star break, will probably pass the Rockets'
streak with Milwaukee, Toronto and Boston next on the docket. But the chances
of overthrowing L.A.'s incredible feat are slim. The San Antonio Spurs are on
the docket March 31 and by that time the Heat could be riding a 29-game run.
Perhaps James put it best when he spoke about the streak and if it weighs on
the players' minds: "We just think about winning our next game."
That could come Friday on the road against a Bucks team that will surely give
Miami all it can handle.
The Sports Network