Heat-Bucks Preview

Lesser teams have caused the Miami Heat some trouble lately

during their astounding winning streak. The Milwaukee Bucks are

clearly inferior, but they’ve given the Heat all they could handle

over the past two years.

The Heat look to break a tie with the Bucks for the

third-longest win streak in NBA history as they head to the Bradley

Center seeking a 21st consecutive victory Friday night.

“I mean, that’s a fourth of the season that we’ve won in a row,”

LeBron James said. “We should all be blessed to be in this

position, be honored to part of such a great team.”

His team’s next contest could be a first-round playoff preview,

considering Miami has built a 9 1/2-game lead atop the Eastern

Conference while Milwaukee has an eight-game cushion for the No. 8

seed. Some might think a sweep would be a strong possibility if

that series happens; after all, while the league-best Heat have not

lost in their last 20 games, the Bucks are 8-12 in theirs and would

fall to .500 with a loss Friday.

However, Miami (49-14) has lost four of the teams’ six meetings

since April 2011, and one of its wins came at home in overtime –

113-106 on Nov. 21. The Bucks (32-31) evened the season series with

a 104-85 home victory Dec. 29.

Teams well below them in the standings have continued to give

the Heat problems even though their win streak is now just the

fourth ever to reach 20 in a single season. That’s the same streak

the 1970-71 Bucks had, and the only teams with longer ones were the

1971-72 Lakers (33) and the 2007-08 Houston Rockets (22).

“Throughout this whole streak and throughout this season, we’ve

just been resilient. We’ve been able to win all types of games,”

James said after scoring 27 points in a 98-94 victory at

Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Miami blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of that game,

five days after trailing early in the fourth against the last-place


That 102-93 win came a night after the Heat needed James’ late

layup to beat Orlando, which owns the league’s second-worst record.

Miami also struggled to win home games against two of NBA’s worst

teams to close February, going two overtimes to defeat Sacramento

after trailing in the final minutes against Cleveland.

“We don’t panic no matter what’s going on in the game. When you

have a streak like this, you have to have some luck,” said James,

11 for 30 from the field over the past two games after shooting at

least 50 percent in 19 of 20.

Dwyane Wade, though, has found his groove in the latter half of

the win streak. He’s scored at least 20 points in a season-high 11

consecutive games, shooting 59.1 percent.

“Win 20 games in a row, it’s awesome,” Wade said. “You can’t get

around it. We’re going to try to go for the next one.”

That one comes against a Milwaukee team coming off back-to-back

losses following a 6-1 stretch.

Brandon Jennings has totaled 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting in

those defeats, but he’s keyed the Bucks’ success versus Miami with

22.0 points per meeting in the past five. He’s averaging a

league-best 11.6 assists in March.

Monta Ellis has gotten hot, averaging 26.8 points and 7.4

assists over the last nine games. However, he’s totaled 23 points

on 10-of-34 shooting in the season series with Miami.

His 26 points couldn’t prevent the Bucks from falling 106-93 at

Washington on Wednesday to drop 2 1/2 games behind seventh place in

the East.

“We haven’t secured anything,” said J.J. Redick, who scored 16

points. “To me, I’m not going to be happy if we end up with the

eight seed.”

Milwaukee is giving up a league-worst 109.4 points per game this

month, compared to 90.0 by Miami as defense has keyed the streak


The Heat are scoring an East-leading 103.3 per game this season

but have surpassed that mark only once in eight March games.