INDEPENDENCE — Cavaliers coach Byron Scott doesn’t think anybody can beat the Miami Heat in a best-of-seven series right now.
But with LeBron James and the Heat bringing their 23-game winning streak to Quicken Loans Arena tonight, Scott does subscribe to the theory that any NBA team can beat another on any given night.
“Just like boxers,” Scott said Tuesday at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “James ‘Buster’ Douglas vs. Mike Tyson. Nobody in the world thought it would happen.”
It did, as the unheralded Douglas stopped the previously invincible Tyson in the 10th round to win the heavyweight championship Feb. 11, 1990.
Minus Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao and now Dion Waiters, Cleveland (22-45) knocking out Miami (52-14) tonight would be almost as big of an upset as James not winning his fourth MVP award in the last five years.
“I think you can give the (MVP) trophy to him right now,” Scott said. “He’s the best player in the league right now and he’s playing like it.”
Having developed a solid post game, the 6-foot-8, 250-pound James is averaging 26.7 points on .555 shooting, 7.8 rebounds and 8.2 assists. The 28-year-old had 37 points, seven boards and 12 assists Monday in Boston as Miami rallied from a 17-point deficit to win 105-103.
“I know the history of the game,” James said after making the winning jumper with 10.5 seconds left to give the Heat sole possession of the second-longest winning streak in NBA history. “Of all the teams that have come through the ranks, to be in second place now, for us to be there and do it the way we want to do it, it means a lot.”
All that remains is Scott’s beloved former team, the Los Angeles Lakers, who won 33 straight in 1971-72 — when Scott was 10.
The quest continues tonight in Cleveland, which starts a stretch where the Heat’s next four games will be against the four worst teams in the Eastern Conference. Detroit, Charlotte and Orlando follow.
“It’s special,” James said of the streak. “We don’t talk about it. We’re just living in the moment.”
Eventually, someone will likely beat Miami in the regular season, but Scott, who won a career-high 16 straight games with the Lakers in 1990-91, doesn’t see that happening in the postseason.
“Right now, the way they’re playing, I don’t know if anybody can beat them, especially in a seven-game series,” he said.
Added guard Daniel Gibson, the only Cavs player other than the injured Varejao to have played with James in Cleveland: “They’re playing at a high clip. Them going into any city at this point is big. They’re playing great.”
Miami is not only playing great, it is playing with an unbelievable focus as it tries to make history, drastically lessening the chances of the Heat looking past anyone.
“They’re on a high,” Scott said. “When you’re playing that well, obviously you have to have some luck in there, but you get to the point where you feel invincible and think you can’t lose. I think that’s where they’re at right now.”
Cleveland, which has lost three straight and five of six, does have some positives on its side, as it lost just 110-108 in Miami on Nov. 24 and 109-105 on Feb. 24.
James and the Heat, however, have not lost since falling 102-89 at Indiana on Feb. 1.
“We know we have to come out and play a great basketball game against a great team,” Scott said. “We probably have to play our best game of the season. This (Miami) team right now, they’re playing at a different level than everybody else.”
- WHO: Cleveland vs. Miami
- TIME: 7 o’clock
- WHERE: The Q
- TV/RADIO: FS Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.