Through no fault of their own, the Milwaukee Bucks could soon be playing their most historic game in years.
Not to jinx the Miami Heat, defending champs and winners of 24 straight games. But when Milwaukee travels to play to them in two and a half weeks, the potential exists that the Heat could be winners of 33 straight, tying them with the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers for the most consecutive wins in NBA history — a streak also ended by the Bucks, albeit a very different Bucks team.
Below is the schedule facing the Heat between now and then. The nine games include five against Detroit, Orlando, New Orleans, and Charlotte (twice) — i.e., bottom feeders that have won one-third or fewer of their games this season. The Magic, though, did give Miami a scare in their most recent game.
As for the other four games, they feature opponents whose stock has dropped over the course of the season: New York, Chicago, San Antonio, and Philadelphia. The Knicks have suffered through a spate of injuries. Derrick Rose hasn’t played yet this season, Tony Parker has missed games with an ankle injury, but both All-Star point guards could return before their games against Miami. The 76ers appear to be in full-on collapse/tank mode after their crushing loss in Denver last night.
At this point of the regular season, the Heat are playing for little more than history. Their 53-14 record gives them a cushy 11.5 lead in the Eastern Conference with 15 games to play.
Oddly, the Bucks will likely be assured of a playoff spot (or something very close to it) by the time they face Miami. Their ‘magic number’ for clinching a playoff berth is six games, though three teams are chasing them: Philadelphia, Washington, and Cleveland. A win over Miami would, however, boost Milwaukee’s shot at a higher seed and/or establish a wee bit of turf with the Heat should they meet in the playoffs a few weeks later.
Of course, one could also dismiss the Bucks’ chances in a manner similar to the other teams on the Heat schedule. But the Bucks are 4-3 against Miami in their last seven games, including a 104-85 win back on Dec. 29. Since that time, the Heat have gone 33-6 and no team has beaten Miami by more than 13 points.