With a win over the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday night on their home court of AmericanAirlines Arena, the Heat would tie the 2008-09 Boston Celtics for the longest winning streak by a defending NBA champion.
That 19-game streak also would be the fourth-longest in NBA history, a mark shared by the Los Angeles Lakers of 1999-00.
If they beat the Hawks for a seventh consecutive time (three this season), the Heat then would go to Philadelphia the next night looking for a 20th straight win, which would tie them with the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks (of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson fame) for the third longest streak ever.
The second-longest winning streak in the NBA, 22 games by the 2007-08 Houston Rockets, also would be well within reach.
It is still too early to talk about the longest such streak, the 33 consecutive games the Los Angeles won in the 1971-72 season.
In fact, LeBron James said the Heat isn’t even talking about the streak period.
“We’re happy to win another game,” he said. “We don’t talk about it. We don’t talk about it here, don’t mention it.
“We’re just living in the moment. We want to get better, and we did that. We got better today. We got another win, and we’ll move on to the next one.”
The win over the Pacers had other significance for the Heat as well.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, they became only the 12th team since the league expanded to 30 teams in the 2004-05 season to notch at least one win over the other 29 clubs. Only one other team, the Phoenix Suns of 2004-05, have accomplished that as quickly as the Heat, who accomplished it in 61 games.
And whether the Pacers want to acknowledge it or not, the Heat sent a message to them that they still have some work to do if they want to have a legitimate shot at unseating the Heat in the playoffs.
The Pacers had physically dominated the first two meetings, both in Indianapolis, outrebounding the Heat by a combined 34 boards in capturing a pair of double-digit victories. The Pacers won the rebounding again in this one, but by only a 33-28 margin.
Considering the other numbers that were in the Heat’s favor -- they shot 55.9 percent from the field to the Pacers’ 41.3 and forced the visitors into 16 turnovers while making only 12 -- the Pacers’ rebounding edge was virtually a non-factor Sunday.
Also, this is a much better Heat team than the one that dropped a 13-point loss to the Pacers in Indianapolis back on Feb. 1, which, incidentally, is the last time the Heat have lost.
“We’re a lot better,” Dwyane Wade said. “We wanted to go into Indiana in Feb. 1 We wanted to get that win. We didn’t.
“I think after that we started to refocus on what we needed to do, especially on the road, to put us in a position to win.”
That loss to the Pacers, Wade said, “was kind of a smelling salt for the team. It was kind of a wake-up moment for us. We’ve been playing good basketball since then.
“We got a little lucky as well in certain games, but we’ve playing both ends of he floor at certain times very, very well.”