An eleven game Wednesday in the NBA turned out to be one of the best nights of the season yesterday, with shocking endings, victories loaded with implications and the Miami Heat keeping their historical win streak alive in dramatic fashion.
A look at the schedule before the day’s first tip off revealed that it would likely be an interesting night with LeBron James heading back to Cleveland, Memphis and Oklahoma City clashing and Carmelo Anthony making his return for the Knicks back in the Garden. It didn’t stop there, but those were clearly the main storylines. How did all turn out? Well, here are 5 things you can take away from last night’s action in the NBA.
- The Miami Heat will break the record for longest winning streak in NBA history.
In a game that James described as one of the greatest comebacks he’s ever been a part of, the Heat overcame a 27 point deficit in what promises to be the most hostile atmosphere they play in all year. The King going off for a triple-double when things got ugly and the three point shooting of his teammates is really the only argument you need to make a statement like the one I’ve put above, but there is more to it than that.
What convinces me that Miami will top the 1971-72 Lakers record isn’t just how good this team is, it’s how much they seem to want that record. Down 27 with the top seed in the East all but locked up, the Heat could have easily packed it in and said “tough night in a crazy atmosphere, we’ll get’em next time. Instead, Spoelstra called a timeout in the third and his team came out with all that had been ailing them suddenly cured. They seem to understand that it was time and that if they were going to make history, it would have to be that moment which they would seize. They did and I, like most others, believe they will continue to do so.
- The Memphis Grizzlies are one of the toughest teams in the league.
Welcoming Kevin Durant to town is always a daunting task, but add to that not being able to get a single call go your way throughout most of the game and you usually end up with a recipe for disaster. But this Grizzlies team doesn’t hang its head. Like their hard skinned coach, Memphis hangs in and plays the cards they’re dealt and on Wednesday, they took Oklahoma City out of their comfort zone.
By turning the game into a defensive standoff, Memphis was able to put their stamp on proceedings. Both shot around 36 percent from the field, but OKC’s league leading offense mustered just two three pointers on the night. In the end, it would require a bit of clutch shooting from Jerryd Bayless, but the play that won it was a rebound tip in from Marc Gasol who finished with 14 and 15 rebounds. It’s a statement win for Memphis in the face of Denver’s 13 game winning streak and San Antonio’s continued dominance of the conference. It says you better not overlook us.
- Texas news: Dallas’ season is done, Houston put a dent in Utah’s playoff hopes and San Antonio will be the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference headed into the postseason.
Most noteworthy here is the Spurs victory over Golden State on Wednesday gives them a 2.5 game lead over OKC with just 14 games to go on their schedule…. But folks in Dallas will feel that their team’s loss to Brooklyn is much bigger news since it essentially ends their season, denying them of postseason basketball for the first time in thirteen years. The Mavs are now four games behind Los Angeles for the No. 8 seed with just 13 games remaining for the Lakers to slip up in….Houston beating Utah has big implications on the postseason, primarily because Utah continues to sit on the outside looking in behind the Lakers and the Rockets, now 2.5 games back. For Houston, it keeps them a game and a half ahead of L.A.
- Boston’s trouble on the boards continues (and will continue) to haunt them.
After a good performance against the Heat that shows that this Celtic may be down, but they are far from out, Boston goes out and loses to New Orleans. All season they have struggled with rebounding, but you usually figure you can scrap one out when you need it. That wasn’t the case on the game winning play of this one, in which Anthony Davis soared over Kevin Garnett for a tip in to win it.
The Celtics will get their wish for postseason basketball, but if they’re looking to do any better than the No. 7 seed, they have to beat teams like New Orleans. That’s tough to do when you’re getting outrebounded by nearly everyone in the league. It doesn’t cost you every night, but as we saw in the Big Easy, it does in a close game.
- A healthy Carmelo Anthony is all the Knicks need to get by.
It seems like an obvious enough statement, but the Knicks woes of late have a lot of fans in the Big Apple feeling skeptical about the postseason before the first ball is tipped. With Amar’e Stoudemire out and Anthony having knee ailments of late, there were lots of questions about how far this team would fall. I know because I was one of many asking them.
This is why Anthony’s return to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday can’t be downplayed. For Knicks fans, it’s massive to have a beacon of hope in an otherwise dark time. This team is somewhat of a shadow of itself from the beginning of the season, but if Tyson Chandler is healthy in time for the postseason and Melo is playing like he did last night against Orlando (21 points 8 rebounds), you don’t want to be the team facing the Knicks in New York if they manage to keep home court advantage in the first round.