Tuesday night, the Golden State Warriors tied the 2012-13 Miami Heat for the second-most consecutive regular-season wins at 27 by beating the Indiana Pacers. While the Warriors’ streak has spanned both last season and this season, their team has looked just as dominant, if not more dominant, than that Heat squad. If anything, being on a long streak seems to be agreeing with them more than it did Miami.
This Dwyane Wade response to a question about the Heat’s 2013 winning streak laid out the main difference between the two teams’ situations. In the video, Wade pointed out that their streak started in the middle of the season, and he described the event as a grind: “…the games pile up, it get’s harder and harder on your body.”
Wade described it as a heavy load that weighed on the team when it happened. Of course, the Heat were in a much different position than the Warriors are now. Their team was different, their players were in a different point in their careers and the time of year was, quite crucially, different.
Let’s talk about the Heat first. The core of the 2012-2013 Heat was LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The team was entirely dependent upon those three players. Their fourth-best player was, who, Ray Allen? Maybe it was Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier or Mike Miller? I’m not trying to disparage the other members of that Heat roster, as there were a lot of valuable role players, but there was a lot of pressure on James, Wade and Bosh to succeed.
The Warriors’ core is based around Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Their auxiliary teammates include Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, Festus Ezeli, Shaun Livingston and Andrew Bogut. While the team relies on Curry, Green and Thompson to produce, their team is less reliant on them than the 2013 Heat were on their stars.
The Heat stars were also older than the Warriors are now, with a lot more NBA miles on them. The Heat were coming off two consecutive Finals appearances, and their Big Three were each in their 10th seasons at the respective ages of 28 for James, 30 for Wade and 29 for Bosh.
The Warriors, on the other hand, are a good deal younger. Curry is 27 in his seventh season, while Thompson and Green are both 25 in their fifth seasons. Combine their youth with the fact that they got to continue their streak at the beginning of the season as fresh as possible, and things look a lot more favorably for them when compared to Miami.
When the Heat were on their winning streak, some thought it put too much stress on the players’ bodies and minds, and Wade clearly felt the same way. He said in the above interview: “I’ve never been relieved to lose a ball game, but I was okay with that one.”
With the Heat’s streak coming towards the end of the season, they wanted to focus more on getting to the playoffs healthy and rested both physically and mentally. Throwing in the pressure of keeping a winning streak alive probably got in the way of that a little bit. The Heat still won the Finals, but they needed a miracle to do it. One has to wonder if it would’ve been easier if they’d been able to rest some guys a little more down the stretch.
Most of the Warriors’ winning streak has come at the start of the season. Eventually they’ll lose, (probably?) and at that point, there will be plenty of time (again, probably) to get ready for the playoffs. Though even if the streak goes longer than anyone thinks possible (probable?), the Warriors don’t need the rest quite as much as the Heat did.