Written By: Dennis Vilimek – Staff Writing Intern (@dvilimek25)
The departure of Dwyane Wade and the medical issues of Chris Bosh left the Heat looking like a lottery team. This was exactly the case less than a month ago, as Miami was looking like one of the worst teams in the league with a record of 11-30. It seems nearly impossible for a team with this bad of a record at the halfway point in the season to have even the slightest chance to make the playoffs.
With that being said, the Heat’s improbable winning streak of 12 games puts them only two games back from the last playoff seed in the east. Their remaining schedule leading to the All-Star break is also fairly weak, making it very possible for this team to have a playoff spot by next week.
Before the Heat’s winning streak, the team lost 10 out of their 11 previous games. To add on to their struggles at the time, one of their more consistent starters, Justice Winslow, got injured and underwent labrum surgery.
Not a single person around the league, even Pat Riley, thought that this team would do anything but tank for a high draft pick. Their winning streak is historic, as it is the longest streak by a team that still below the .500 mark. This is not an ideal record to be breaking, but it says a lot about the current Heat team. The previous record was an 11-game winning streak held by the 1996-97 Phoenix Suns, who did wind up making the playoffs in that season.
The two biggest contributors to the current hot streak are Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters. Both players are performing at a high level and putting up numbers across the board.
Dragic has been solid all year and continues to be a veteran leader on the floor. This team is at its best when he is scoring, but it’s the contributions of the other players that has really lifted the Heat during their current streak. Waiters has really improved his game, as he is no longer just a shooter.
He has recently become a great facilitator for the team, and by the end of the year he will likely double his career assist averages. The other main piece of this team is Hassan Whiteside, who has the potential to put up huge numbers every game if he doesn’t get in foul trouble. He continues to improve every year and is putting up averages of 17 points and 14 rebounds this season.
The two Johnsons, James and Tyler, have really come alive this year and are valuable pieces off the bench that play starter minutes. They are both double digit scorers on a team that is somewhat lacking in depth, and it is crucial for those two to continue to play well if the Heat want to make a run for the playoffs. It is very possible for this team to sneak into the last spot in the East, or possibly even higher if they can stay hot.