The Philadelphia 76ers were at home and beating the defending champs by three points with 3:57 left on the clock. The Philadelphia crowd was on its feet, and momentum was on the 76ers' side Wednesday. All they had to do was cling to that three-point lead for less than four minutes and they would snap the Miami Heat's historic 19-game win streak.
The 76ers lost by four.
Another close game, another victory for the Heat.
The win streak stands at 20 games, and six weeks have gone by since we've seen the number in their loss column change. But Wednesday's win over Philadelphia underscores a hallmark of the Heat's remarkable run and their 2012-13 season as a whole:
They have been almost unbeatable in the clutch.
Twelve games have gone into clutch time during the streak, and the Heat have won them all. By clutch time, I'm going by NBA.com's standard: the game's final five minutes and the score is within five points. Every single one of those 12 close games have gone the Heat's way, including Wednesday.
The Heat, like any team on a long string of wins, have needed a little luck here and there, but when you look deeper into the numbers, you begin to realize that something more substantial is happening with this team. To illustrate, here is the score in 44 minutes of clutch time during the streak, according to NBA.com's stats tool:
Heat 134, Opponents 71.