With the Heat's winning streak ending Wednesday night at 27 in their loss to the Chicago Bulls, it's time to look back at the second-longest winning streak in sports history, and the longest in the NBA since the ABA merger and the implementation of the 3-point line.
10. Heat 107, Lakers 97 (Feb. 10, Win No. 5): The Lakers were supposedly getting better at this time, starting what I think was their fourth new season this year according to the players and coaches. It was supposed to be a titanic battle between the Lakers and the Heat in a superstar rumble.
Instead, Miami controlled the pace, controlled the tone, controlled the game and pulled away late. It wasn't so much that the Lakers lost to the Heat, it was that it was just like any other win for Miami. When they wanted to control the game, they did. And the Lakers were left wondering what went wrong.
9. Heat 97, Magic 96 (March 6, Win No. 16): Even against teams like the lowly Magic, the Heat would have some tight ones. In the game vs. the Magic on March 6, one of two wins that the Heat would have over Orlando during the streak, it looked like their time on the winning train would come to an end at 16.
Jameer Nelson made it a three-point lead, Chris Bosh cut the lead to one, the Heat got a stop, and with three seconds left ...
8. Heat 109, Cavaliers 105 (Feb. 24, Win No.11): Everyone will remember the win in Cleveland (below), but the first meeting of the two teams during the streak was equally exciting.
With 5:16 to go, the Cavaliers led 97-89. Dwyane Wade then scored 11 points in the final five, including a layup with 24 seconds remaining, the Heat hit free throws to clinch, and the streak lived on. It did set up the later meeting, though, which proved to be even more exciting. This was the start of where the Heat started to show they could simply decide when the game was over.
7. Heat 110, Thunder 100 (Feb. 14, Win No. 7): Usually a Finals rematch during a win streak like this would be much higher on this list. But, honestly, the game just wasn't that close.
Miami controlled the game from the outset and, leading into the All-Star break, dealt Oklahoma City a disheartening loss. It was 30-17 after the first quarter, and it was all downhill from there. It was a statement game for Miami, one of several they made during the streak.
6. Heat 141, Kings 129 (Feb. 26, Win No. 12): Surprisingly, the best game of the streak. The Heat's defense was a mess, but they simply kept storming back. Despite Marcus Thornton's 36 points and 26 points from Tyreke Evans, LeBron James scored 40 points with 16 assists and eight rebounds in double overtime as Dwyne Wade threw in 39 on 28 shots. It was a barrage, and the Kings simply ran out of artillery in the second overtime.
5. Heat 98, Grizzlies 91 (March 1, Win No. 13): This one was not a fun exhibition nor was it a dominant showing. The Grizzlies took the Heat to the wire and, in a tough, physical, ugly game, the Heat pulled it out. LeBron did his thing, and Miami showed it can win fancy, win ugly, win every which way. We just didn't know the extent yet.
4. Heat 99, Knicks 93 (March 3, Win No. 14): The Knicks had walloped Miami in their first two meetings and broke out to a huge lead in the second quarter of this contest. It looked like the streak would end and New York would have a win it could hang its hat on after things got dicey for them after November.
And then, all of a sudden, they were back in it. Miami tied the score at the 10-minute mark of the fourth and took the lead for the final time with 4:30 to go. New York tried to hang on but couldn't get the right shots to fall. And all the confidence evaporated.
3. Heat 105, Pacers 91 (March 10, Win No. 18): Another would-be contender, another team that had walloped Miami in their first two meetings, another team completely outclassed by the red hot Heat.
Miami just ran the Pacers out of the building and it certainly felt like a statement game. Miami on a 17-game winning streak dominated Indiana in every phase of the game. Nothing that worked for Indiana in the first two games worked in this game.
The Heat ran their fast-paced game, and this was the moment where you realized, "If Indiana can't slow them down, who's going to?"
2. Heat 98, Cavs 95 (March 20, Win No. 24): In Cleveland, with the rowdy crowd lapping up the opportunity to embarrass James even three years after The Decision, the Heat found themselves down 27 points. It was over. The Heat's streak woul end, and the Cavs -- without Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao and Dion Waiters -- would get a feel-good win in a rough season.
And then the lead chipped away. And James was attacking. And Shane Battier was hitting 3s. And they just kept coming, and the Cavs stopped hitting shots, and all of a sudden it's single digits, and then it's a two possession game, and then the Heat are tied, and then they had a double-digit lead. The Cavs made a late run, but everyone knew it was done.
Miami had spotted the Cavs 27 points and still won. The air of invincibility only got stronger.
1. Heat 105, Boston 103 (March 18, Win No. 23): Without Kevin Garnett, Boston was doing what it does, surging behind the emotion of missing one of their best players. They were up 16 on the Heat, Jeff Green was having the game of his life and the Garden was rocking.
But just like the Cleveland game, Boston couldn't close. The lead evaporated by halftime, Miami tied the game early in the third and, from there, it became a classic.
Back and forth, back and forth, and then, tied game, one-on-one, in the building that he destroyed last May in Game 6, LeBron James rose up and buried the jumper over Jeff Green. The rainbow was an illusion, the fairytale was not real and the streak lived on.
Another win over Boston and another sign of just how good this Heat team is. That was the best moment for Miami in this historic, improbable streak.