With The Streak Now At 21, Can Anyone Beat The Heat?

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21 wins in a row, the Miami Heat are on a roll. The bad thing for the rest of the NBA, is that they are showing no signs of letting up. Friday's 107-94 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks leaves the Heat 12 wins away from tying the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers' all time record of 33 wins straight. Few would bet against them at this point to at least get within striking distance of making history. Only three of their remaining games in March are against current playoff teams, so the schedule has been kind if they are to achieve greatness. This team, however, isn't concerned with this. They are looking at the bigger picture, when the 'Big 3' of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh were assembled their primary objective was to win multiple Championships. They took time to find the right cohesion but once they did, a championship soon followed. Now the Heat, boasting a record of 50-14 as they enter the most critical part of the season, are the clear favourites to win the Championship this year. You would find it difficult to make a legitimate case for anybody to beat them in a best of seven playoff series. They are much stronger than last year, the Championship has seemed to invigorated the role players on the team. It's also taken the pressure off MVP LeBron James, who no longer has to deal with the questions from the critical media and analysts on when he's going to win a Championship. He is visibly more relaxed and is the clear MVP winner currently. He is one of the most complete basketball players we have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. Almost impossible to guard due to his speed, power and range, his numbers are up across the board. His defensive presence is also there for all to see. It would have been easy for LeBron to take things for granted this year but his work ethic and determination have led by example and he is an inspiration to his teammates and is an incredible role model to youngsters who dream of being in his shoes. By the time LeBron is done he could surpass Michael Jordan as the greatest player in history. As good as LeBron is, nobody can do it on their own. As Jordan had Scottie Pippen, James has Dwayne Wade. Wade seems to have shaken off the niggling injuries that hampered his form at the beginning of the season and is now playing at the level we have all come to expect. He has always been capable of taking over a game at any moment but the arrival of LeBron didn't make that a necessity anymore. Wade has accepted the role of number 2 option with good grace. Knowing he is playing alongside one of the greats seems to have relaxed Wade. During this amazing streak he has excelled, coming up with critical plays at important times to ensure victory on numerous occasions. If James is having a rare off night, then Wade takes the team on his back and that is deeply troubling for opposing defenses. The key to Championship teams throughout history have been their role players and the Heat have those in abundance. The acquisitions of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis have been a masterstroke from Pat Riley. They provide solid scoring options off the bench and have history of knocking down crucial shots at critical moments. Allen is the greatest three point shooter in NBA history and teams always have to be wary of leaving him open on the perimeter because if they do, they will find Allen and he will nail the shot. Lewis also has this ability, and with his fitness and minutes increasing is now becoming an integral cog in the Heat machine. Their most impressive role player though, is Shane Battier. The ageless former Duke standout seems to be getting better with age. He is an outstanding defender who has no trouble guarding the opposing teams best player when James is resting. He also can be counted on to provide a valuable scoring option if needed and the main options on the Heat have no problem differing to Battier if they are struggling to find a shot. It's role players of the Battier ilk that have been the staple of great teams throughout the years. So who has a legitimate chance of denying the Heat back-to-back Championships? In the East the pickings are slim. The New York Knicks, the oldest team in the NBA, seem to be fading fast. They have two 20 point victories over the Heat earlier on in the season but this wouldn't count for much in the playoffs. A Knicks team at full-strength might have a chance but this doesn't look like it will be the case when playoff time rolls around. The Indiana Pacers lack the playoff experience but can beat anybody on their day. The Boston Celtics are the opposite to the Pacers, a veteran team who have experienced what it takes to win a championship but may be mismatched against the fast paced Heat offense. The Brooklyn Nets are still working things out and are not expected to make a deep playoff run. Same goes for the Atlanta Hawks, who have undoubted talent on their team but their regular season for hasn't carried on into the playoffs in previous years. So, it's safe to say that the Heat are almost certainties to win the Eastern Conference at this point. What about the West? The Oklahoma City Thunder would be the obvious selection to cause the Heat problems. They have two heavyweight scorers in Durant and Westbrook and have a strong interior presence with Perkins and Ibaka. They also have revenge on their minds, having been demolished by the Heat in the Finals last year. They will have learnt from that experience and things may be closer if they were to meet this time around. However, they would probably find it difficult to beat the Heat four times to gain to retribution they've been seeking. The San Antonio Spurs are a veteran team who have seen it all. They consistently have one of the best records in the NBA annually but have fallen short in recent playoff runs. They would need Duncan, Ginobili and in particular Tony Parker firing on all cylinders if they were to get close. They would also need a strong showing from their supporting cast every night. With experience comes age and it's hard to envisage the Spurs having the energy to keep up with the Heat over a long series. The Los Angeles Clippers are maybe the deepest team in the Western Conference and could have no trouble keeping up with the Heat's scoring. They are inexperienced as a team in the playoff environment and this might count against them. The Memphis Grizzlies are well matched upfront with the Heat but may struggle to guard on the edge, although the addition of Tayshaun Prince will help. The Denver Nuggets are on a roll and could surprise in the playoffs but they are young and relatively inexperienced and their best years are clearly ahead of them and this could prove to be too soon. It will take a monumental effort from any of these teams to displace the Heat as champions. They are the hottest team in the League and show absolutely no signs of letting up. They are relentless and certainly a daunting prospect. With 21 straight, things are only going to get better. Dean Jones: Follow me on Twitter @DeanJones_