The Miami Heat’s 25-game win streak is drawing most of the national headlines, and rightfully so, but Denver, following a 101-95 win over the pesky Sacramento Kings on Saturday, has stretched its own streak to 15. So let’s take a second to compare the two streaks.
- Miami has not lost since Feb. 1, in Indiana; Denver has not lost since Feb. 22, in Washington.
- Miami’s defeated 12 likely playoff teams; Denver’s beat 8.
- 12 of Miami’s 25 wins are by 10 points or less; Denver: 8 of 15.
- In its streak, Miami’s beaten Toronto (2), Atlanta (2), Cleveland (2) and Philadelphia (3) on multiple occasions; Denver’s beaten Oklahoma City and Sacramento twice, each.
- Miami’s won its 25 games by an average margin of 10.64 points; Denver’s avg. margin is 9.53.
The streaks both come at an interesting time in the NBA, when March Madness sucks most of the game’s casual fans away before the postseason begins, especially in a year, like this one, where about all 16 playoff spots, save for maybe the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, are essentially wrapped up.
But let’s take a minute to discuss Denver’s streak. After all, even before its 25 straight, just about everyone was already conceding the Eastern Conference to Miami, who’s now up 12 games on co-No. 2 seeds, New York and Indiana. The West, though, could still be up for grabs, at least in the postseason; Denver’s still 5 games back of the not-so-healthy-but-still-winners-of-8-of-their-last-10 San Antonio Spurs.
Twice in the streak, Denver’s defeated a healthy Oklahoma City Thunder team, meaning they’re 3-1 against the defending Western Conference champs on the year, with the only loss the first time they played on Jan. 16. Check out Denver’s records against other West playoff teams this year: 2-1 vs. the Clippers, 1-1 vs. San Antonio, 3-1 vs. Memphis, 3-0 vs. Houston, 3-1 vs. Golden State and 3-1 vs. the Lakers.
Denver’s leaped the Clippers, albeit only by a half game, into the No. 3 seed, clinched a playoff berth and are a full game up on Memphis, currently in the No. 5 seed; Denver owns the tie-breaker over both these teams. (Ironically, it was Denver who broke the Clippers’ 17-game win streak on Jan. 1 — since which, the Clippers are a much more pedestrian 23-16 — and Memphis’ 6-game win streak on March 15.)
With homecourt advantage likely, at least in the first-round, Denver, a league-best 32-3 at home, is a near lock to advance, where, if seeding holds, they would match up against OKC. In Denver’s one loss to OKC this year, the Nuggets were without Wilson Chandler, who’s averaging 16 points per game in March and hung 35 on the Thunder off the bench earlier this month. (Then again, Denver would need to find a way to stop Russell Westbrook, who’s scored, on average, 33 per in 4 games vs. the Nuggets this year.)
Now, I’m not saying Denver would beat OKC in a 7-game series, but I would contend Denver has that nasty, mainly with Kenneth Faried, to compete with the Thunder’s, well, aggressive bigs, and the scoring to match KD and Russ.
The winner of this series, were it to occur, could very well see Miami in the NBA Finals.
Follow me on Twitter @PatrickJDuprey.