The Miami Heat came back from a 27-point deficit to beat the Cavs 98-95 last night, pushing their winning streak to 24 games.
It was an astonishing comeback for a bunch of reasons, but the biggest takeaway after watching the game is this: the Heat really care about this streak.
How do we know?
Just take a look at how Erik Spoelstra coached the game in the second half.
Down as many as 27 points, LeBron James played every minute of the half. Bosh, Wade, and LeBron all played more than 36 minutes in the game, above their season averages.
The rotation shrunk to eight players (which you typically only see in the playoffs). Udonis Haslem played just six minutes in the half, Chris Anderson played just five minutes, and the crunch-time rotation of Chalmers/Allen-Wade-Battier-James-Bosh played the rest of the minutes.
The Heat have an insurmountable lead in the Eastern conference. They could have easily packed it in when they were down 27 points with 19 minutes left, taking the Big 3 out of the game and conceding a road loss on a random Wednesday night game in Cleveland.
But they didn’t do that. In fact, they went the complete opposite direction — pulling out all the stops, and in doing so revealing just how much this win streak matters to them.
You don’t drop a 37-10 run on an NBA team on the road if you aren’t playing incredibly hard. The Heat overwhelmed the Cavs with their defensive intensity in the final 19 minutes, outscoring them by an almost comical 55-19 margin.
That doesn’t happen on talent alone. It happens because a team with talent plays with desperation.
We aren’t saying that the Heat are going to get to 34 straight wins and beat the record. But last night proved that they actually care about the streak, and that really makes things interesting.
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