by Micah Hart
As everyone knows by now, the compressed NBA schedule will force every team to play three games in three nights at least one this season (42 times in total). With only 66 games to stake a claim to a playoff spot or seed, how teams perform during these killer slates could have a large impact on how their seasons turn out.
With that in mind, we’re going to keep track of each of the 42 three-plays to see which teams take advantage and which teams fall apart. Up next, the Miami Heat, who played three straight from Feb. 12-14.
Back on January 12, the Chicago Bulls put up a three for all number I wasn’t sure would be beaten this season, as they attained the highest possible score they could with three victories by 10+ points. At the time, I said this:
The only way they can be topped from here on out is if a team plays two road games and wins all three by double figures, so, yeah, good luck beating Chicago.
Challenged extended? Challenge accepted by the Miami Heat, who took to the road for all three legs of their back-to-back-to-back.
Game 1: Heat 107, Hawks 87 – Once again we see the key to a good start in the three-play:
play Atlanta get up early in Game 1 so you can save your strength. The Heat ran out to a 30-18 lead at the end of the first period, led by 22 at the half, and cruised the rest of the way. Dwyane Wade didn’t even play half the game — and still put up 21 points. 3 points (1 for the win, 1 for +10 margin, 1 for road)
Game 2: Heat 114, Bucks 96 – Revenge! This one was a little personal for the Heat, who somehow managed to lose both prior games to the Bucks despite Milwaukee being under .500 and currently on the outside of the playoff chase. LeBron James made sure there was no sweep, dropping 35 and eight in another game that was pretty much over by the fourth quarter. 5 points (3 for the win, 1 for +10 margin, 1 for road)
Game 3: Heat 105, Pacers 90 – Indiana, what gives? Two nights rest for the Pacers going into this game (a rare sight in this condensed season), and although Danny Granger did exit this one early (a tough blow for Indy, which started its own three-play on this night), they were already down 16 at the time. LeBron drops 23-9-7, and Norris Cole continued an excellent rookie season with 20 off the bench. 7 points (5 for the win, 1 for +10 margin, 1 for road)
So, yeah. You wanted to see what perfection looked like, this was perfection. Not only did the Heat play all three games on the road (only the Pistons had to play three road games for their triple, and they lost all of them for a season-worst -3 points), but they won all three by +10 and were so dominant I’m surprised they didn’t petition the league to go ahead and play again tonight. Seriously, check out Wade’s minutes and points totals from the three games:
— 23:56 and 21 against Atlanta
— 28:00 and 22 against Milwaukee
— 24:06 and 16 against Indiana
When you only need one of the five best players in the world for half a game and you win, you know you have things cooking. 15 total points for Miami, the highest possible amount possible available this season, and a sincere tip o’ the cap from All Ball on a job well done.
Up next: The Utah Jazz also played three straight Feb. 12-14.
Three for all Top Ten:
— Miami Heat (15 points)
— Chicago Bulls (13 points)
— OKC Thunder (12 points)
— Atlanta Hawks (8 points)
— Houston Rockets (7 points)
— Portland Trail Blazers (6 points)
— L.A. Clippers (6 points)
— Philadelphia 76ers (6 points)
— Denver Nuggets I (6 points)
— Orlando Magic (5 points)