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Can the Miami Heat Win 73?

NBA Analyst Jeff Van Gundy Thinks So

By

Miami Heat Introduce LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade

LeBron James #6, Dwyane Wade #3 and Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat show off their new game jerseys before a press conference after a welcome party at American Airlines Arena on July 9, 2010 in Miami, Florida.

Doug Benc/Getty Images
Updated August 10, 2010
The all-time record for wins in an NBA season is 72, set by Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.

The longest winning streak in league history is 33 games, set by Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West's Lakers during the 1971-72 season.

And according to NBA analyst and former Rockets/Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy, both those records are in danger this year.

Calling the new-look Heat "impossible to defend," Van Gundy predicted, "They will break the single-season win record. And I think they have a legit shot at the Lakers' 33-game streak, as well. And only the Lakers have even a remote shot at beating them in a playoff series. They will never lose two games in a row this year."

Other NBA voices aren't convinced. TNT analyst Steve Kerr -- a member of that 72-win Bulls squad -- thinks minor injuries, the occasional poor shooting night, and the need to rest players to prep for the postseason will derail any run at 72 wins.

That last argument doesn't convince me. Other dominant teams of recent vintage have taken their foot off the proverbial gas pedal, opting to rest key players down the stretch instead of taking runs at history. But the Heat's key players -- James, Wade, Bosh, Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers -- are in their primes. And given the reaction they've received since joining forces, they may very well have a collective chip on their shoulder.

I think this team can win 73 if they want to. And I think there's a pretty good chance they'll want to.

The other wild card in this hand is coach Erik Spoelstra. Van Gundy clearly thinks very highly of Spoelstra, and cites his influence as the reason Miami will play lights-out defense this season. But Spoelstra is inexperienced -- this is just his third year in the job. In fact, many suspect Spoelstra will be forced out at some point, with team president Pat Riley re-claiming the coaching job. There's precedent for such a move -- Riley unceremoniously dumped Stan Van Gundy and took over the head coaching job in December 2005. Miami won the NBA Championship later that season.

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