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March 19, 2013

NBA: The path to 33 might not be that daunting for Heat

LeBron James and the Miami Heat are about to play another game in Cleveland.

Yawn.

That's what a 23-game winning streak will do for a team.

It mutes even the LeBron-Goes-Home-Again hype.

Someday the Heat will lose another basketball game. Maybe even Wednesday, when the reigning NBA champions drop by James' old neighborhood to take on James' old team, which happens to be decimated by injuries right now.

Still, could happen. Almost did in Boston on Monday night, save for James' game-winning jumper in the final seconds after Miami rallied from 17- and 13-point deficits to squeak past the Celtics 105-103.

But given how they wrapped up their latest "W'' and what lies ahead, it may no longer be farfetched to think that the record of 33 straight victories set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers is within Miami's grasp.

"It means a lot," James said after the Boston game. "I know the history of the game. To be sitting in second place right now ... for us to be there and doing it in the way we want to do it, it means a lot."

It also means a lot that Miami won't be visiting many playoff-bound teams any time soon. Five of their next six games are against teams with the worst records this season.

So, grab some popcorn and some pop and settle in to watch where this remarkable run ends up.

Here's a breakdown of the potential Road to 34:

— At Cleveland (22-45)

While it will surely be emotional — after all, James is coming home, again — Miami would have to simply lay an egg to lose on Wednesday. The Cavs are incredibly banged up and out of the playoff race. Kyrie Irving is out, Anderson Varejao's season is over and on Tuesday, Cleveland revealed that guard Dion Waiters may need surgery to repair a problem in his left knee.

Yes, the Cavaliers nearly knocked off the Heat in Miami on Feb. 24, but Waiters and Irving combined for 43 points in that upset bid. They'll combine for zero on Wednesday.

Heat victory odds: Excellent.

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