Miami’s brutal March stretch is almost over but the Heat certainly haven’t emerging unscathed. They dropped five straight, their longest losing streak of the season, and stirred up some controversy along the way.
But after beating the Los Angeles Lakers, crushing the Memphis Grizzlies and routing the San Antonio Spurs, the Heat have this to look forward to: they will be favorites in every game for the rest of the season.
Check out the following schedule:
Mar. 16 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Mar. 18 at Atlanta Hawks
Mar. 19 vs. Denver Nuggets
Mar. 23 at Detroit Pistons
Mar. 25 vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Mar. 27 vs. Houston Rockets
Mar. 29 at Cleveland Cavaliers
Mar. 30 at Washington Wizards
Apr. 1 at Minnesota Timberwolves
Apr. 3 at New Jersey Nets
Apr. 6 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Apr. 8 vs. Charlotte Bobcats
Apr. 10 vs. Boston Celtics
Apr. 11 at Atlanta Hawks
Apr. 13 at Toronto Raptors
After Wednesday night’s game against the Thunder, the Heat will avoid playing a title contender until the last week of season when they face off against the Boston Celtics, but they will do so in front of their home fans at AmericanAirlines Arena. That’s also potentially a good time to be facing the Celtics, who are undefeated against the Heat this season in three games, because it may be resting time for the Celtics ahead of the playoffs. However, the No. 1 seed could be on the line as well depending how things shake out with them and the Chicago Bulls.
So the real question is, what are the chances they can run the table? Even though the Heat are odds-on favorites in every game here on out, statistically speaking the chances are pretty slim. I ran the numbers, using a method from statistician Neil Paine at Basketball-Reference, and found the Heat have a 2.6 percent chance of finishing the season riding an 18-game win streak. That formula accounts for home court advantage, which is key considering the Heat will be taking on their three toughest foes the Thunder, Nuggets, and Celtics all at home.
So, yes, it’s possible, but it’s more than likely they’ll trip up a game or two along the way.
Rest assured, the Heat aren’t looking that far ahead. Their focus is on extending the streak to four games tonight against Kevin Durant and company. And it won't be a cakewalk.