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Monday, March 18, 2013
Tracy McGrady peeled to Heat's run

By Chris Broussard
ESPN The Magazine

Tracy McGrady, who played on the previous NBA team to win 22 straight games, says the streak his 2007-2008 Houston Rockets went on was more impressive than the Miami Heat's 22-game streak.

"I'm enjoying watching because of the unknown," McGrady, by text, said of the Heat's run. "But the way we did it was a lot harder. Having Yao [Ming] go out [due to injury] around the 12th game and Dikembe [Mutombo] filling his role was huge for our team. And we didn't have three guys making $100 million."

McGrady The way we did it was a lot harder. Having Yao [Ming] go out [due to injury] around the 12th game and Dikembe [Mutombo] filling his role was huge for our team. And we didn't have three guys making $100 million.

-- Tracy McGrady, comparing Houston's 22-game winning streak to Miami's equivalent run

During their season, All-Stars McGrady and Yao led a good-but-not-great Houston club to 12 straight victories. But Yao broke his left foot in the 12th game, leaving 41-year-old Mutombo to step into the starting lineup at center. The Rockets continued to roll, though, winning 10 more times before losing to Boston on March 18, 2008, without the level of talent of "three guys making $100 million" -- referring to Miami's LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

The Rockets eventually lost to Utah in the first round of the playoffs.

McGrady, who played in the Chinese Basketball Association this past winter, is not the only person with NBA ties watching the Heat's charge with great interest. Miami's chase of one of the great records in all of sports -- the 1971-72 Lakers' 33-game winning streak -- has been a topic of discussion throughout the league.

In an informal poll of league executives, coaches and scouts who were asked if they believed the Heat would break the Lakers' record, of the 44 responses, 32 said "no" and only 12 said "yes."

Those who do not believe Miami will surpass 33 straight wins mentioned obstacles such as coach Erik Spoelstra potentially deciding to rest his players for the postseason, and the media frenzy that is expected to envelop the Heat (an NBA-best 51-14) as they approach the record.

"I doubt they reach 33," one coach said. "At some point, Spoelstra will rest his crew. They're 11 games ahead in the East."

Spoelstra has implied recently, however, that he will wait until the last week of the season to rest his top players. If the Heat break the record April 9 by beating Milwaukee for their 34th consecutive win, they would have five games and eight more days remaining in the regular season. That would give the Heat plenty of time to both break the record and rest for the playoffs.

Not everyone is focused on the Heat's historic chase, though.

Kobe Bryant, who is nursing a sprained ankle while his Lakers make their push for a Western Conference playoff berth, implied he couldn't care less about Miami's winning ways. When asked in a text whether he thinks the Heat will break the Lakers' record, he responded: "Did you really ask me that?? Lol"