Heat vs. Cavaliers preview: Miami goes for 24th straight

USA TODAY Sports

The Heat have won 23 games in a row. The Cavaliers have won 22 games all season. That's really all you need to know about this one. Well, except for a certain former Cleveland star' return.

As the Miami Heat have bowled their way through opponents in the past six-plus weeks, it's become increasingly difficult to imagine LeBron James and company stumbling against one of the league's cellar dwellers.

Enter the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that was already among the league's worst even when its full cavalry was intact.

Looking to extend the second-longest win streak in NBA history with a 24th-straight victory Wednesday night, the Heat visit LeBron's former abode to face a struggling Cavs squad on the road for the first time this season.

Usually centered on the "King James-comes-home" narrative that's nearly been beaten to death at this point, the focus of Wednesday's game is all about one thing - the win streak. Frustrated fans will still aim their boos at a player whose perceived betrayal still festers, but there's an undeniable fact that will ultimately shape this game.

The Heat have now won 23 games in a row. The Cavs have won 22 games all season.

As mad as Cavaliers fans might have been about how LeBron left Cleveland, the two sentences above explain why that hatred hasn't gone away. The Cavs still haven't recovered.

When the two teams met up in South Beach last month, it appeared that the 109-105 win would simply be part of one of Miami's best stretches of the season. Instead, it was the 11th victory in a win streak that's already reached historic levels.

On Wednesday, Cleveland will be going without arguably its three best players, Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Anderson Varejao. All out due to injury, it leaves the Cavs will a starting lineup that will likely feature Shaun Livingston, Wayne Ellington and Tyler Zeller instead.

Facing a team that hasn't lost in weeks and only appears to be building momentum using those guys? "Uh, yeah good luck with that," in the wise words of Fear the Sword, SB Nation's Cavaliers blog.

Does that mean Cleveland can't pull off the miracle and end Miami's streak? Of course not. This is sports. In many ways, this is precisely the kind of game in which a good team could lose its focus so late in the season, though the win streak appears to have Miami churning on all cylinders these days, as Hot Hot Hoops, SB Nation's Heat blog, writes.

One of the biggest reasons we tune in is the possibility of witnessing the unimaginable. Wednesday's game has that potential.

More from SB Nation:

Hotter than ever: Paul Flannery on Miami's streak

The NBA's best contracts

Remember Dwyane Wade? He's still awesome

Printable bracket for March Madness

LeBron's best posterizations

An oral history of Bryce Drew's epic buzzer-beater

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