It was the Orlando Magic, of all teams, that came closest to taking down the Miami Heat and ending the team’s longest winning streak in franchise history. But then LeBron James put his head down, drove to the basket, converted on a layup, and the rest was history.
Against Orlando, the Heat were one point down with 12.6 seconds to go, and needed to perform in the clutch. On Miami’s last possession, James used a Chris Bosh screen to set himself up for an almost effortless layup.
James has been criticized a lot for his inability to perform in crunch time, but he has left all of those demons behind him. Actually, the Heat are collectively putting up mind-blowing stats in the clutch.
The NBA champions boast the highest winning percentage when coming from behind late. In games when they fall behind their opponents by five points or less within the last five minutes of the game, the Heat are 26-6, good for a staggering 81.3 winning percentage. Quite unsurprisingly, Miami’s execution is great, shooting a league-leading 49.4 percent clip in those positions.
If we dig even deeper in the stats, we can discover more pearls. Miami’s +/- in these situations is +117, which means that they have outscored their opposition by a total of 117 points in clutch spots. To put things into perspective — under the aforementioned conditions, the Golden State Warriors are second in plus-minus score differential with +53.
The Heat have also refused to give in when having their backs against the wall. Miami is the only team in the league that wins over 50 percent of their games in which they are tied or trailing by up to five points in the last two minutes of the game.
In these instances, the Heat are 12-6, ahead of the distant second San Antonio Spurs, who are 9-9.
All of this proves just how comfortable the Heat are as a team. You very rarely, if ever, see them panic in nerve-wrecking situations. They are simply the most clutch team in the NBA.
Vytis is a Miami Heat and NBA columnist for RantSports. You can follow him on Twitter here: @VytisLasaitis