As the Heat get closer to the all-time record, they face a strong Chicago side, who are starting to find some form.
Six games shy of matching the longest win streak in NBA history, the Miami Heat will play Wednesday at Chicago Bulls with more concern about repeating as NBA champions than boosting their epic 27-game run.
Powered by superstar playmaker LeBron James, the Heat have compiled the second-best win streak in major North American professional sport, trailing only the 33-game NBA win streak of the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
But winning the last playoff game will always be more important to James than winning the 34th in a row.
“It’s about winning the championship. That’s what we want to be known for,” James said. “But it’s a process. Whatever comes in between that, we can be excited about.
“We didn’t have a goal in mind to set a consecutive win streak. But we go out every night trying to win. It’s nice to be able to have something like this.”
The Heat, who have not lost since February 1 at Indiana, own the NBA’s best record at 56-14 as they open a three-game road trip against the Bulls (38-31), with games Friday at New Orleans (25-46) and Sunday at San Antonio (53-17).
The Spurs are seen as the most difficult obstacle to the Heat beating the Lakers’ streak, but if the streak clears that hurdle on Sunday then the Heat will have 30 wins in a row.
Miami would then have a home game April 2 against New York, a visit to Charlotte on April 5, a home game against Philadelphia on April 6 and a home game April 8 against Milwaukee for the record 34th in a row.
“You have to appreciate it,” Miami forward Chris Bosh said. “When all this is over we can look back and appreciate it. We will stay focused.
“Right now, we’ve got some work still to do.”
It was Milwaukee which snapped the Lakers’ win streak in 1972 and Lakers legend Jerry West, a star guard whose silhouette is used in the NBA logo, recalled how that defeat felt.
“We were too (excited) and they started very well and kicked our butts,” West said. “I think all of us went in the locker room and felt like we had lost our best friend.”
West is cheering for the Heat to break the mark he helped establish.
“It would be a wonderful story. I have no problem with that,” West said. “I never thought this streak would live forever.”
West sees the Spurs as the Heat’s biggest threat to making history.
“Unless they have a horrible, horrible shooting night, I don’t see any of those other teams beating them,” West said. “They have great three-point shooting and they’re never out of a game because of that.
“And then they have the best player in the game (James) who does all the little things.”