Miami in Driver’s Seat as NBA Playoffs Approach

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Miami in Driver’s Seat as NBA Playoffs Approach

Bobby Lussier, Staff Writer

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With the NBA regular season coming to a close, the playoff picture is beginning to come into focus, and one team in particular is leading the way down the stretch. The reigning world champions, The Miami Heat, led by MVP front-runner LeBron James, have won their last 16 games and are in total control of the Eastern Conference. The Heat lead in the East by 6½ games, followed distantly by the New York Knicks, who the Heat beat last Sunday. Although Miami owns the best player in the league, the streak has been a result of a remarkable team effort.

Throughout the streak, King James has played rather impressively, boasting 28.2 points per game, 7.7 rebounds per game, and 7.6 assists per game during the streak, making his numbers the best on the team’s roster.  LeBron has shown his prowess on both sides of the ball as well, averaging almost two steals per contest. James’s 39% shooting percentage from beyond the three-point line only adds to his dire importance to Miami’s success, as well as his case for a fourth MVP award.

LeBron James’s play has been essential to the longest winning streak in the NBA this season, but he is not the only one playing well. Dwane Wade averaged nearly 24 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in the month of February, better than any other month this season, and his stats in March have started off even better. Another teammate that has excelled during the streak is Shane Battier, who shot 53% from three-point range in February, after shooting just 19% in January. Players such as Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen have also picked up their play over the past month or so.

This streak has not only been impressive, but dominant. Miami has crushed its opponents, tallying 10 double-digit wins over the course of the streak, and averaging an 11.4 point advantage over each team they play. The Heat has also averaged 106.4 points per game, including a 141-point beat down of the Sacramento Kings.

Sixteen wins straight ranks extremely well this year, but it also ranks impressive in the history of the NBA. It hasn’t yet approached the record of 33 straight wins by the 1971 Los Angeles Lakers, but it still has a chance for some historical significance. As of right now, the streak stands as tied for the 18th longest streak in NBA history, and with their next matchup against the 23-37 Philadelphia 76ers, there is still a good chance that the streak will continue. The real test for the Heat will be this upcoming Sunday against the Indiana Pacers, who are fighting with the Knicks for second place in the East. It was Indiana who last handed Miami a loss, which occurred on the first of February. With the Pacers leading the season series 2-0, the stage is set for a primetime showdown.  That game could define the chances for any team other than the Heat to win the Eastern Conference, because with the way Miami is playing now, those chances are slim.

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