The 1971 Los Angeles Lakers set the National Basketball Association (NBA) ablaze when it reeled off 33-straight wins, a record that still stands--for now. The 2012-2013 Miami Heat have won 21 straight and appeared locked and loaded for a prime run at matching or breaking the 40-plus year old record. But today's NBA isn't what the game used to be because nearly any team can fall on a given night considering the amount of talent flowing throughout the Association. Even teams that sit at the bottom of the league still possess top shelf talent. But can the Heat push that aside to break the record? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate the question.
Riley: I don't think they can do it. They're schedule over the next 12 to 13 games isn't particularly scary but on any given night, a team can play above their record to sneak in an upset. I love the way LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are playing right now but asking them to keep up that type of intensity as players prepare to mentally shift gears for the playoffs is a tall task. And I can't see them homing in on some meaningless streak while their prize treasure becomes more visible as the summer arrives.
Green: James, Wade, Chris Bosh and a bunch of solid pieces can and will get it done. Miami has every ingredient that any NBA team could ask for. They've got the big time players, accurate shooters and physicality up front with the addition of Chris "Birdman" Andersen. The schedule doesn't scare them at all and I think the Heat still has something to prove and cracking 40-year-old records only fuels their fire.
Riley: You shouldn't underestimate any team, especially when they're playing against the world champions. Teams wake up a little early on the days and nights that the previous year's title holder comes to visit. I don't like the fact that James has to be the hero every eight out of 10 times and the team overly relies on him in my opinion to make too much happen. One bad game by James and it puts a lot of pressure on Wade and Bosh to perform. Too much hangs on James right now and I can see Miami coach Eric Spoelstra sacrificing a few games just to make sure his horses are healthy for the playoffs.
Green: Miami (50-14) isn't even close to resting their starters but they might be if they hit this streak. There's no incentive right now for Miami to cash in the playing time of its better players by resting them as the season goes on. Look, Miami wants this streak. It's close and it's in their grasp. They're going to play all out to get it so unless we're talking about James, Bosh or Wade being out, Miami is going to be in position to reel off another series of dominant play after they finish with this current one.
Riley: Miami has made a ton of accomplishments over the past few seasons since the new Big Three has been together and 21-straight wins is a hell of an accomplishment. Trying to sketch out another 12-straight wins would be tough for even the greatest teams of NBA past so it's just hard for me to see them matching the Lakers' record, especially at this time of the year when the level of play has picked up. We're going into March and April and playoffs and postseason positioning means everything right now to some teams and I have to believe that one of those teams out there vying for a better spot in the playoffs is going to rise up and cool down the Heat.