When the Heat lost to the Mavericks 12 days ago to fall to 9-8 on the season, many believed the Heat were nothing more than a really expensive group of underachieving misfits. At the time, the Heat looked prime for a slump, not a surge.
But here we are, on December 9th, wondering if and when they will be stopped. The win streak currently sits at six games with consecutive victories against Detroit, Washington, Cleveland, Atlanta, Milwaukee, and finally Utah. All by double-digits.
And looking at the schedule, the following scenario is not out of the question:
The Heat travel to Los Angeles for the Christmas day game against the Lakers while riding a 14-game win streak.
Preposterous? Well, it's certainly not likely. To be clear, I am not predicting it will happen. In fact, I believe it will not happen.
But after seeing the question proposed elsewhere without any real examination, I decided to get to the bottom of it:
What are the odds it will happen?
First, let's look at the upcoming schedule:
Friday 12/10, at Golden State
Saturday 12/11, at Sacramento (back-to-back)
Monday 12/13, New Orleans
Wednesday 12/15, Cleveland
Friday 12/17, at New York
Saturday 12/18, at Washington (back-to-back)
Monday 12/20, Dallas
Thursday12/23, at Phoenix
The Heat will probably be favorites in each of their next eight games. Which as we know, doesn't guarantee anything other than they will be favorites in each of their next eight games.
But probabilistically, what are the chances they pull it off? With the help of Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference, I calculated the probability that the Heat win each one of their next eight games, given how the teams have performed this season.
The probability: 19.6 percent.
At first, I thought that was high. But then I looked at the schedule again.
The Heat's back-to-backs on this stretch are against two of the worst teams in the NBA (and a pretty good case can be made that they are the worst). On top of that, the Heat have home court advantage for their two toughest match-ups against Dallas and New Orleans. If Pat Riley had to pick two teams to play on the back-to-backs and the two teams he could face at home, he probably goes with the current setup, no?
And that's before we consider that Stephen Curry and Tyreke Evans could be out with injuries. So if anything, the 1-in-5 chance underestimates it a tad.
But even if we were to bump it up to 25 percent, that still means there's a 75 percent chance this does not happen. Basically, the odds that the Heat will ride a 14-game win streak into Los Angeles is roughly the same as LeBron James missing a free throw (career 74.4 FT%). Putting it in those terms makes me feel a little less certain it won't happen.
So, what do you think the chances are?