MILWAUKEE — Dwyane Wade’s eyes perked up and he sat up straight in his chair when a reporter told him former coach Bill Sharman said the Miami Heat have it in them to break his 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA-record 33-game winning streak.
“That’s so far away,” Wade said with a laugh at Friday’s shootaround. “I won’t think about 33 unless we were at 32. That’s so far away from now. It’s great to be in the conversation with those guys, but 33 is a long time away from now.”
If Miami is going to have a chance to get to 33, it of course has to get to 21 first. That will require winning Friday night against a Milwaukee team many believe could be the one to put an end to any chance at history.
The Bucks have played Miami as well as anyone in the league since Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined up in South Beach two seasons ago — going 4-5 in nine games. The Bucks hammered the Heat by 19 points in Milwaukee on Dec. 29.
“They beat us,” Wade said. “A win is a win, a loss is a loss. This is a very good team, and they play very well here, especially against us. It’s a different day, different game and we have to come out and match their energy and their effort.
“We have to continue to play the way we’ve been playing, and that’s unselfishly on both ends of the floor for 48 minutes. This is a team you have to play all the way through, and it might take overtime.”
The spanking Miami received the last time it took the BMO Harris Bradley Center floor was the beginning of the Heat realizing they had to improve on the road. Soon after losing in Milwaukee, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra simply showed his team its road record. The star-studded roster knew exactly the point he was trying to get across.
“We had to own it; we were horrible,” Spoelstra said. “If we didn’t own it, that would have been a shame and we wouldn’t have gotten better. You have to give credit to teams that were pounding us and beating us on the road; they were outplaying us.
“This is a prime example. The last time we were here, we were up nine with a couple minutes to go in the third quarter and they went on a 22-1 run or something of that nature and took control of the game. They outplayed us, and they outplayed us significantly in the fourth quarter. This is an opportunity for us to play better on the road against a team that had confidence against us last game.”
Part of the reason the Bucks provide a difficult matchup for Miami is their similarities in style. Of course the Heat do it better than the Bucks, but both teams thrive on creating turnovers and scoring in transition.
“This team is very disruptive, they are very similar to us,” Spoelstra said. “They turn you over, they are quick, they have quick hands and they reach on everything. They have a tremendous shot blocker protecting their aggressiveness, and when they turn you over, they are as quick end-to-end as we are in terms of turning turnovers into points.”
Knowing the entire league is focused on their streak, the Heat realize each opponent on the schedule is going to get amped up to play them. They are aware of how well a focused Bucks team can play and know they’ll have to match the energy in the building.
“We have a huge challenge ahead of us with this road trip,” Bosh said. “It started in Philly, and tonight they are going to be ready. We have to take the challenge.”