I waked up this morning to the Miami Heat ranked number ten in the NBA power rankings.
A quick note on power rankings, it’s ratings for each team or player, ratings that are numerical representations of competitive strength. Power rankings are the new wave in sports, which provides an alternative to traditional sports standings which is based on win-loss-tie ratios.
The Heat rise from fourteen in the ranking. This comes after a convincing 97-79 win over the Milwaukee Bucks extending their winning streak to seven games. Miami entered that game arguably tied for the hottest team in the NBA with the Boston Celtics who at the top the Eastern Conference own a seven-game winning streak of their own.
Goran Dragic scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and the Heat held Milwaukee to its worst shooting game in nearly five years. Dragic’s 3-pointer with the shot clock expiring with 5:19 left put the Heat up by 14, part of a run in which he scored 11 consecutive Miami points.
“I started feeling it, first half I was struggling, but the game is long,” Dragic stated. “I stayed with it; I was in that hot zone so just shoot it.”
Dragic entered the game leading the team averaging 17.0 points per game. The NBA named Dragic the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for week 13. Moreover should be in consideration for an all-star spot.
Miami owns sole possession of fourth in the East despite a negative scoring margin. Though Miami is 25-17, it has the scoring margin of a team you would expect to be 20-22 at this point. It’s what makes the Heat so difficult to gauge. The team’s rotation may not have an actual superstar however their “culture” is what these players buy in. It is well marketed however authentic.
At the half waypoint of the season, the Heat were 24-17 entering the matchup against the Bucks, last season they were 11-30. Dion Waiters announced last week he would have season-ending surgery on his left ankle. Against the Bucks, Justise Winslow returned for Miami after missing 14 games with a knee strain, finishing with three points, four rebounds and four assists in 13 minutes. The appearance was his 37th in Miami’s last 115 games. Oh, and by the way, the Heat are only half a game back for third place behind the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Heat will make the playoffs; presently ranked tenth in the power rankings is above expectation. The All-Star break is nearly here, playing close attention to this team movement in the conference is something other teams should take notice. The Heat can win on the road added motivation at home would not hurt for the first two round of the playoffs.
Miami will play nine of its next 11 games on the road. But after that stretch, 18 of the final 29 regular-season contests are at home with no remaining road trip longer than three games. There is power and ranking to be found in that stretch.