After last season's championship, Dwyane Wade famously wore a "Team No Sleep" shirt, referring to the shuteye he intended to get the nights following the Heat's title win. On Wednesday evening, Team No Sleep took a more literal meaning, as the Miami Heat played like a team that got in at 4 a.m. after a game the night before. Sluggish and turnover-prone all night long, this Heat was not the best we have ever seen -- but our guys won anyway.
The win was the Heat's 20th straight, a 98-94 squeaker over the Philadelphia 76ers in a game that surely had asses on the edges of barstools across South Florida. Cruising for most of the game with leads between three and nine points, the Sixers went on a frantic fourth-quarter run to take the lead with less than five minutes to play behind solid play from Jrue Holiday, 24 points and 15 rebounds from Thaddeus Young, and clutch shots from ex-Heater Dorrell Wright. It looked like Team No Sleep would be the perfect excuse for why the Heat's streak ended.
Then the champion basketball team went all champion basketball team, and the rest was history.
Back in his usual seat as Mr. Leader of Everything in the Boxscore, LeBron James dominated with 27 points, including crucial drives to the basket late to keep the game within reach. Equally important was Dwyane Wade and his 21 points, which were the biggest of the game -- a tip-in to extend the Heat's lead with just under 25 seconds remaining. Your fingernails? Gone. The streak? Very much here. Unstoppable.
The theme of this Miami Heat streak has turned from "Hey, look what LeBron can do, weeeeeeeeee!!" to "The Miami Heat is just flat-out better than you, always." Individual numbers aren't sticking out as much as the collective dong of the Heat these days. No matter what circumstance, they overcome it. No matter what obstacle, they scale it. It's like watching them run perfectly through a stage of the show Wipeout and then watching the other team bust its ass and fall into the water while a Japanese voiceover laughs at them. You can't get on their level for one game right now, so let me remind you that at some point, a team will be challenged with doing it four times out of seven -- good luck with that.
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Streak-watch takes you to Milwaukee this Friday, as the Heat looks to make it 21 wins in a row -- prepare your deer anus, Bucks. After a night like Wednesday, it's tough to look past Friday and then the Heat's matchup against the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday, but one can't help but notice the Heat travels to Boston on Monday. Every game in a 20-game winning streak is big, but that game is a definitely "circle on the calendar" quality.
Regardless of when or how this streak ends, just enjoy what you are watching, because this isn't normal. This is normal-on-bath-salts not normal. This is normal-at-Ultra-with-glow-teeth-dancing-to-a-Madonna-song not normal. Shit. Ain't. Normal.