Can the Phoenix Suns beat the Heat? And we're not talking about the dreaded summer heat that's straight ahead in our weather forecast.
No, we're talking about the upper-case version: the Miami Heat. Hence, in the spirit of "Spy vs. Spy," we're launching a campaign called "Streak versus Season."
Sure. After Monday night's comeback win at Boston, the Heat currently own the second-longest winning streak in NBA history -- 23 straight. And after beating the Lakers Monday night, the Suns have won 23 games -- this entire season.
Hit the brakes. That's a #HolyCannoliStat that says it all, right? Sure again. But that ain't no fun. At the risk of going all Paulie Pocket Protector here, let's bust out a line graph in order to track our two teams and crunch some more numbers.
Entering Monday night, if you set up a compare/contrast Tale of the Tape between the defending NBA champions and the Worst in the West, let's just say they have a lot of opposites in common. That makes sense, uh, right?
For instance, Miami just finished a stretch of holding its opponents to under 100 points in 10 straight games. Prior to the injured and worn out Lakers coming to AZ (Steve Nash: "We just hit the wall"), the Suns had allowed their last six opponents to score more than 100 points, including the league's lowest-scoring team (Wizards) torching the Suns for 127 points on Saturday night.
After shooting 58% in a win against Toronto, Miami is now 31-2 this season when shooting at least 50 percent from the field. Through 68 games, the Suns have shot 50% or better a grand total of five times, going 4-1 in those games.
What's more astounding when it comes to shooting percentage is that the Suns' defense entering Monday night had allowed opponents to shoot 49% over the past seven games... from three-point range!
During their current winning streak, the Heat have beaten three different teams multiple times (Philly 3x, Toronto 2x, Atlanta 2x). Believe it or not, the Suns have now beaten six teams more than once this season (Cleveland, Charlotte, Sacramento, Portland, Memphis, Lakers).
And one other polar opposite these two teams might have in common by the end of the season? The numero uno. As in, the Heat is tracking to wind up #1.
Same with the Suns, sort of. As in, maybe, just maybe, if we pray to the great ping pong ball in the desert sky, the Suns might wind up with the #1 pick.
(Note: if we're wondering whether the Heat can extend the streak? Miami's next four opponents -- Cleveland, Detroit, Charlotte and Orlando -- have the four worst records in the East. Also, eight of their next 11 games are against teams with losing records.)