State of the Heat: Having fun out there
MIAMI — The Dolphins opened their doors for “Hard Knocks.’’ The Marlins did so for “The Franchise.’’
Don’t expect Miami Heat president Pat Riley to let any cameramen in from the NBA, which does have a behind-the-scenes show called “The Association.’’ But if he ever did, guard Dwyane Wade offered what would be found.
“We’re not a team that lets the cameras in often where they can follow and see this team,’’ said Wade, a 10-year Heat veteran. “But if we did, we would have a No. 1 hit show, no doubt about it. This is a great group of guys, a very fun team.’’
That has become much more evident to the public recently. Two weeks ago, the Heat unveiled their hilarious “Harlem Shake’’ video. It now has more than 40 million views on YouTube.
The video was filmed when Miami had won 12 straight games. The streak is now up to 20, tied for the third longest in NBA history, and the Heat are having even more fun. They’re laughing and joking plenty in the locker room.
“Winning makes it more fun, there’s no question about it,’’ Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said about how loose his team is these days. “I don’t see a lot of camaraderie on losing teams, and we’ve been part of both teams.’’
Spoelstra was an assistant on a Miami team that went 15-67 in 2007-08. The Heat made no videos that season that had players dancing.
The Heat have had their share of guys having fun since the Big Three of LeBron James, Wade and Chris Bosh came together in the summer of 2010. They danced on stage at AmericanAirlines Arena after they signed.
But that infuriated many, which shows how far the Heat have come. There’s no way their “Harlem Shake’’ video would have been perceived in such a positive light had they not won the championship last season. They probably wouldn’t even have made it if they didn’t now have rings on their fingers.
In the previous two seasons, those on the Heat, especially James, incurred plenty of criticism for how their team was put together. And that at times made Miami players reluctant to show their true selves. But winning last year’s title has significantly lessened the us-against-the-world mentality.
“We’re having fun,’’ Wade said of the change. “I think the biggest thing is our supporters and our fans around the world have accepted us as a team playing together. And they understand we love and enjoy the game together. We play it in the right way. We’re enjoying each other as teammates and we’re having fun and I think people appreciate that. They understand that. So with social media we’re sharing it a little bit.’’
They share it in other ways. Bosh last year starting getting publicity for videobombing post-game on-court interviews.
Lately, he’s really ratcheted it up, and it’s added to the image of the having-fun Heat. Of course, he’s had more opportunities during the winning streak to jokingly slip into shots, considering Miami players don’t do on-court interviews after losses.
“Every day, we like coming to work,’’ Bosh said. “My dad told me you want to like your job because it sucks when you hate it, and he was speaking from experience. It’s just nice to not only play basketball but to play with the best team in the world, with the best teammates in the world. These are great guys and are funny. We laugh and we joke.’’
But before anybody claims a vaudeville act has broken out on the side, James would like his say. He bristled when it was suggested the Heat are a “fun-loving bunch.’’
“That’s a little too much, fun-loving,’’ James said in offering a reminder about Miami still being all business when it comes to a pursuit of a second straight title.
What’s he trying to do? Hurt the ratings if the Heat ever do have a reality show?
Who’s Hot: Wade has scored 20 or more points in 11 straight games, a stretch in which he’s averaged 25.7 points. Over his past five games, Wade has averaged 3.6 steals. Wade is the latest Eastern Conference Player of the Week, the first Heat player other than James to win it this season. James has claimed five.
Who’s Not: Forward Shane Battier has cooled down significantly after a recent streak in which he was sizzling. In the first two games in March, Battier shot 8 of 9 (88.9 percent) on 3-pointers and was in a four-game stretch in which he went 14 of 18 (77.8 percent). Since then, Battier has made just 6 of 24 (25.0 percent) from beyond the arc in six games.
1. At least the Heat won’t have to worry about facing losing teams in the playoffs.
During their 20-game winning streak, the Heat (49-14) have faced 10 teams that currently have winning records and 10 that now have losing marks. They’ve done a good bit better against the winners.
The Heat have beaten the winners by an average margin of 12.4 points. Not one of the games has been closer than six points.
Meanwhile, the Heat have beaten the losing teams by an average of 10.3 points and have been ahead of them at the end of regulation by an average of 9.2 points. That takes into account they won a double-overtime game by 12 points over lowly Sacramento. They’ve also had a one-point escape over Orlando and four-point survivals against Cleveland and Philadelphia.
2. Sure, it’s a long shot the Heat will break the Los Angeles Lakers’ 1971-72 record for winning 33 straight games. But they are by far the most serious challengers to the record those Lakers have seen.
To break the mark, which could happen April 9 at home against Milwaukee, the Heat would need to win nine games on the road and five at home. Yes, that would be very difficult. But the only game in which Miami might not be favored during the stretch is March 31 at San Antonio.
If the Heat keep winning, their streak would be 29 entering that night.
3. A number of rival NBA executives are no doubt scratching their heads over why they didn’t look closer at signing center Chris Andersen, who has been a huge asset to the Heat since signing Jan. 21. Even if Andersen had been signed just to keep “Birdman’’ away from Miami, that could have helped other teams.
Obviously, it was a major factor that Andersen last May had his Larkspur, Colo., home searched in a child-exploitation investigation by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. But he has not been charged with any crime and Andersen’s lawyer has said his client has been a victim of extortion.
The Heat thoroughly checked out the situation and believed Andersen was worth signing. One wonders why other teams sat back while Andersen remained a free agent throughout the first half of the season.
Quotes of the week
“It’s huge. That’s a fourth of a season that we’ve won in a row. We should all be blessed to be in this position and be honored to be part of such a great organization.’’
— James, speaking to Sun Sports after the Heat won their 20th game in a row Wednesday at Philadelphia.
“2010. The first year we were all together. So it feels good to be able to do the things that you want to do and the things that you’re used to. It’s tough when you’re used to doing something and you can’t quite do it… I know when I feel good our team has a better chance of winning.’’
— Wade, who underwent knee surgery last July, on now feeling the best he has since when the Big Three first got together in 2010-11.
“It was great in the larger scheme of things that we had to come back and win this ballgame. Right now, we’re preparing for the playoffs. That’s good because we’re going to have these same moments again.”
— Wade, on not minding the Heat had to come back from three points down in the final four minutes Wednesday to win 98-94 at Philadelphia, which is 24-40 and has lost 13 of its past 15 games.
1 — Player in NBA history to have been on two teams that won 20 or more games in a row. Battier was on the Houston Rockets when they won 22 straight in 2007-08. “Proud and blessed to be part of dual 20-gamers. Not bad for a chump who was told he’d never amount to much in the (NBA),’’ Battier tweeted.
19 — Players in NBA history who have gotten into a game at age 40 or older. If Heat forward Juwan Howard, who is on his second 10-day contract but has not yet played, checks in this season, he would become the 20th.
64 — Wins the Heat are on pace for, which would eclipse the team record set when Miami went 61-21 in 1996-97. “I want them to win a championship, but I want to hang on to something, man, have a little something,” said P.J. Brown, a forward on that team.
Every game will be big as long as the streak continues. The Heat will try to keep it going on the road. They play Friday at Milwaukee, Sunday at Toronto, Monday at Boston and Wednesday at Cleveland. The one against the Cavaliers will mark James’ fourth trip back to where he played before bolting to Miami in the summer of 2010.
Tower of Power?
How about in all of NBA history? The Heat’s 20-game streak is one for the ages. If they hadn’t fallen asleep in several games early in the season, there would be talk about whether they could become just the second team in NBA history to win 70 games in a season. The most the Heat can get to now is 68.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson.