In a season where super teams have taken the league by storm, the Miami Heat have taken the basketball world by storm, reeling off 13 straight wins after starting the season off in the cellar of the basketball world. This includes wins against some of the leagues best: the record-breaking Golden State warriors and the Houston Rockets. They were sitting with the second highest odds in the league of receiving a top 3 draft pick with a record 11-30, now they're only two games out of a playoff spot. They had been counted out all season, so what changed? Some point to brilliant coaching, others the phenomenal play of young stars like Dion Waiters and Hassan Whiteside, along the with the all-NBA level play they're receiving from veterans like Goran Dragic. During the Heat's current winning streak, Waiters averaged nearly 21 points per game from the field. He even won player of the week after hitting the game-winning three against the league-best Golden State Warriors and another clutch three to seal up a close game against the nets. Waiters has thrived in the clutch during this current streak and it has the heat surging towards a playoff spot. The only question is: Should this have been expected? They counted the heat out after Lebron left. After the departure of Dwyane Wade, the most renown and decorated player in franchise history, this offseason, the heat were left for dead. Chris Bosh hasn't played a game in over a year, but many of the small acquisitions they made this offseason have paid off in a big way. Take James Johnson, once left for dead, he's now a key player on this surging squad. Many criticized the heat for matching Tyler Johnson's Nets contract this summer, but he has shown up in a big way justifying the big money. Pat Riley is simply reusing the magic he has from years past. Nobody suspected Lebron to come to Miami in 2011, but Pat Riley got him to come. Nobody expected Shaq to come way back in 2004, but it happened. Pat Riley has done it before, and he's done it again this year.
People also forget, after the departure of Dwyane Wade, the Heat have become a relatively young team. Dion Waiters is only 25, Justise Winslow is only 20 and Josh Richardson is only 23. Young players develop as the season goes past, and they developed just in time to make a run for the playoffs. Along with the development of young players, the ascension of veteran's like Goran Dragic to all-star level has enhanced the play of the whole team. He and Udonis Haslem lead the locker room, and they bring the team up with them. Dragic simply needed the ball in his hands to produce, and Spoelstra recognized that after the departure of Dwyane Wade, leading to the resurgence of the veteran. Speaking of Spoelstra, people also seem to forget that the coach Erik Spoelstra went to four straight finals. Four. Straight. Finals. In this year's NBA, that's nearly impossible, yet he did it. 13 straight wins by a team so far below .500 has never been done, but he's doing it now. Spoelstra has made a habit of doing the impossible, it should be expected at this point. Even more so, Hassan Whiteside's ascension to stardom has been two years in the making. It's just finally happening. He led the league in blocks last year, finishing third in defensive player of the year voting. It seems like all that was left was to score 15+ point per game and to get more rebounds. He's done both this season, leading the league in rebounds at 13.9 per game and averaging 16.9 points per game. He's done what the heat paid him top dollar for, and it's paying off in the biggest way. Now that they've gotten a sense of winning and what it feels like, this young squad is hungry for more and nobody can stand in their way.