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The Miami Heat, holders of the NBA's best record at 49-14, also happen to be the league's hottest team. They've won 20 games in a row, and it's not entirely crazy to think they could challenge the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers' all-time record of 33 straight wins. In the short term, though, the Heat have very winnable road games at the Milwaukee Bucks (Friday) and Toronto Raptors (Sunday) this weekend. Then, on Monday, they'll visit Boston for a fairly high-profile matchup with the Celtics.
It would seem natural for opponents to respect the streak and use the challenge to bring even more intensity to their matchups with Miami. However, at least one Celtic is not particularly impressed with what they've accomplished. From Chris Forsberg for ESPNBoston.com (via SLAM):
Allow Jason Terry to tell you what he thinks of the Miami Heat's 20-game winning streak.
"Not really impressed with it or anything that they do," said Terry, who has a history with Miami from his Dallas days when the two teams met in the 2011 Finals. "So, for me, it's more about what our team is doing and how we're coming together as a unit."
Terry's point of view is at least partially logical. The Celtics have to face the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday before they can turn their attention to the Heat, and the Bobcats did beat them the last time they faced despite having the worst record in the NBA for the second-consecutive season. On top of that, every NBA team does its best when it focuses on controllable circumstances, so there's no real reason for the Celtics to get overly fixated on the Heat just because they're playing especially well. There are four other teams between them in the East standings, after all.
On the other hand, Terry has proven to be quite opposed to everything the Heat do. In December, he chided former Celtic Ray Allen for leaving Boston for South Beach on questionable moral grounds, and that came after claims that he wants to "kill" the Heat (and Lakers), presumably only in a figurative sense. Next to Terry, Paul Pierce's hope that the Heat lose every game for the rest of the season looks like minor distaste.
I imagine that Terry's hatred isn't as overtly hostile as he claims — for instance, it's hard to imagine him refusing to have a conversation with Mike Miller or Mario Chalmers simply because of an association with the Heat. Terry is getting himself psyched up for competition, and that's a perfectly normal part of a professional athlete's work day. Plus, I'm sure lots of NBA players are tired of hearing about the Heat after three years of nonstop discussion.
However, it's probably worth wondering why someone needs to refuse to acknowledge the accomplishment of a 20-game winning streak in order to perform his job well. Ideally, a healthy respect for an opponent should coexist with a focus on optimizing the things a player and his team can control. Why, exactly, does the whole thing have to become a miserable experience smothered in enmity?