Heat go for 22 in a row north of the border
The Miami Heat have won 21 straight games and will go for 22 when they visit the Toronto Raptors Sunday afternoon at the Air Canada Centre.
The Heat now own the third-longest winning streak in NBA history. With a win on Sunday, Miami would match the 2007-08 Houston Rockets for the second- longest ever in the league.
The all-time record of 33 belongs to the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
The streak reached 21 with a 107-94 victory over the Bucks in Milwaukee on Friday.
In addition to continuing the streak, the Heat had some revenge on their minds. Miami lost at Milwaukee by 19 points on Dec. 29, and the Bucks pushed the Heat to overtime in Miami on Nov. 21 before losing.
"Our guys take it to heart," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after Friday's win. "It's not about revenge. It's about playing better and hopefully correcting some of the things that ailed us the last time we played. Nobody feels good about it when you get pummeled like we were the last time we played here. Guys wanted to play well."
Miami's Big Three were gigantic against the Bucks. LeBron James and Chris Bosh both had 28 points and Dwyane Wade added 20. James had 10 rebounds and seven assists as well, while Wade handed out nine helpers.
The Heat are the defending NBA champions and don't usually fall victim to the pitfalls most other teams do. For those looking for one, perhaps the Heat could overlook the Raptors because of a date with the Celtics in Boston on Monday night.
But first, the Heat need to get past the Raptors on Sunday.
Toronto has won three of its last five after a five-game losing streak. The Raptors' most recent victory was a 92-78 drubbing of the Charlotte Bobcats at home on Friday.
The Raptors fell behind early in the fourth quarter, but then held the Bobcats to just 10 points in the final frame to win rather comfortably in the end.
The swoon in the third quarter and beginning stages of the fourth was excusable, according to coach Dwane Casey, but not acceptable.
"There's a malaise this time of year, we can't let that set in," said Casey. "We can't start out games like that, no matter who we play. We were running in mud in the first half.
"We have a great group of guys that want to play well, but they are human. It is up to us, the coaching staff, to push them through this time of year. We have to play like it is going to help propel us into next year."
Rudy Gay led the way with 28 points in the victory, while Amir Johnson -- starting in place of Andrea Bargnani, who is out for the season with a sprained right elbow -- was a monster on the boards. He pulled down 21 rebounds to go with 12 points.
The Heat have won 10 straight against the Raptors, including two this season. Miami has taken four in a row north of the border in the series.