Just over a month ago, the narrative on Miami was filled with talk of coasting, injuries and losing the Eastern Conference crown to that team from Indiana.
Leave it to the Heat to rewrite the story halfway through the season.
Miami (41-14) is on a roll, playing its best basketball of the season and looking ever-stronger as the season moves forward. As superstar/superhero LeBron James told reporters Friday:
We’re playing good ball, and we want to continue that. We’re in a good groove right now. For us, we’ve always appreciated the process — every month we want to continue to get better, and I think we’ve done that.
The Southeast Division-leading Heat (41-14) have won 12 of 14, including their last six by an average of 13.3 points. Miami has held teams to 92.5 points per game during that stretch, and none of its last four opponents have shot over 40.0 percent.
On the flip side, the Orlando Magic (18-42) are right were many people expected the team to be – right around the bottom of the standings – and things have only gotten even worse. Their best player (Aaron Afflalo) is expected to miss the game due to an ankle injury and one of their most productive veterans (Glen Davis) was just released from his contract.
An Orlando victory would be a huge upset. But the Magic do have some players that could make the game interesting. Jameer Nelson has been inconsistent all season long but seems to relish shooting as often as possible against Miami. Nicola Vucevic has had monster rebounding games against the Heat; it will be interesting to see if Greg Oden can limit his effectiveness. Athletic rookie Victor Oladipo can be a challenge for a team that isn’t fully engaged.
But that’s something you just can’t say about Miami at this point in the season.
As for LeBron, the NBA has changed its stance on the black protective mask that James wore on Thursday against the Knicks. As per ESPN’s Michael Wallace (via Twitter):
— Michael Wallace (@WallaceNBA_ESPN) March 1, 2014
That’s really disappointing, especially considering how the mask practically broke the Internet during its Thursday debut. But at least it left us this video, courtesy of SB Nation (via YouTube):
Don’t ever change, Internet.
The telecast of this game begins at 7:30 P.M. on Sun Sports from the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. Check back with AllUCanHeat for a recap after the game.