On Feb. 17, the Miami Heat lost in overtime to the Golden State Warriors to fall to 11-17 on the season. It was the third straight loss for the defending Eastern Conference champs, and Miami was struggling to find its footing in a season beset by injuries.
Nine days later, things are looking a little bit different down in South Beach.
On Friday night, the Heat beat the Jazz, owners of the NBA’s best record, 124-116. It was the team’s fifth straight win, a season high. Jimmy Butler scored 33 points and was two assists shy of a triple-double, and Goran Dragic came off the bench to score 26.
While it’s a small sample, much of the Heat’s turnaround in the past five games is due to the fact that they’ve improved on all sides of the ball — even if Butler thinks Miami has a ways to go.
“I don’t want to say that we’re good yet,” Butler said after the game. “I think we’ve got so much more to figure out. We’ve got so much more that we can be better at. Myself, anybody, I don’t want us to get complacent and think that we’re cool, we’re good. Nah, that’s not the case. We’ve got a long way to go.”
Butler’s high expectations aside, here are some of the most telling numbers inside the streak, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information research:
Points per game:
Before the streak: 106.8 (27th in the NBA)
During the streak: 112.4
Points allowed per game:
Before the streak: 110.5
During the streak: 104.4
Turnovers per game:
Before the streak: 16.5 (last in the NBA)
During the streak: 13.8
Record in clutch-time games*:
*A clutch-time game is a game in which the scoring margin is within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter/overtime
Before the streak: 6-10 (T-24th in the NBA)
During the streak: 3-0
Before the win over the Jazz, the Heat topped the Kings, Lakers, Thunder and Raptors. And with each win, Heat social took it to another level:
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 27, 2021
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 25, 2021
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 23, 2021
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 21, 2021
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 19, 2021
Can Miami keep the streak going? Next up are the Hawks on Sunday.
ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this story.