A few hours before fans watched him help the Heat to their 17th win in succession, this one by a 102-93 count against the 76ers, this one to clinch a playoff spot, Dwyane Wade did some viewing of his own. He caught the clowning around by former Magic players Shaquille O’Neal, Dennis Scott and Penny Hardaway on NBATV.
“I was like, man, those guys played together, I want to know what their stories are, of the moments they had and they shared,” Wade said. “And that’s how we’re gonna be. One day we’re all gonna be away from this game, and we’re going to have moments where we get to talk about these moments that we’re creating right now. Hopefully, they’re special and hopefully they’re something we all can proud of.”
It’s not likely that they’ll spend all that much time on Friday’s contest, even if it came in the context of a streak that has now stretched to a length that only the Los Angeles Clippers have equaled this season, with the latter doing so against fewer likely playoff teams. Against Philadelphia, which has no shot of the postseason, any of Miami’s memories will be about the oddities.
Chris Andersen driving for a layup.
Ray Allen dunking in transition, for two of his 12 points.
“He dunks in practice with nobody on him,” Wade said.
“He’s been telling everybody he still has that,” Erik Spoelstra said.
Shane Battier sweeping through the lane for a hook, his first 2-point attempt after 44 straight 3-point tries.
“At one point, that was my game, in the paint,” Battier quipped. “That was where I cut my teeth.”
Other things weren’t so odd, such as Wade scoring 22 on efficient 9-of-16 shooting, or LeBron James, before getting a late rest, leading the Heat back from a deficit with 25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks.
And, of course, the end result was expected, since it’s been the same since Feb. 1 — with that last loss coming against Indiana.
“This is special,” Wade said of his current team and its current run. “No question about it.”
It is, and that’s why Sunday has more significance than the average regular season encounter. After all, the opponent again is Indiana, which has beaten Miami twice this season, and made the Heat appear ragged and even timid in the process.
“We’re well aware that they’ve absolutely pounded us, beat us up, what else do you want to say?” Spoelstra said.
There’s some symmetry here as well; in 2010-11, Miami had its previous longest streak in the Big 3 era, one of 12 straight, and those wins were bracketed by losses to Dallas.
The Heat then lost to the Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals.
Most believe that Indiana is Miami’s most likely opponent in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals, and there was some dispute among Heat players, regarding whether a message needed to be delivered.
“It was already more than just a game after the first two games,” Chris Bosh said. “After they beat us pretty good, them and New York, we’ve had these dates circled for some time.”
Miami has recently gotten some revenge against the Knicks and Bulls.
“Every team that has beaten us, when we get an opportunity, especially since the break, we’ve tried to redeem ourselves and play a lot better,” Wade said. “The first time, Indiana, they smacked us pretty good. The second time, we had a chance, they did more than us to win the game. Now it’s our turn, being at home, to take care of business.”
Still, James wasn’t overemphasizing the assignment.
“We don’t need to make no statement against no team,” James said. “We know where we stand when it counts. We want to play well, we want to continue to get better, against a very good team coming into our building.”
A special team, though?
Lately, there’s been one above all in the NBA.