MILWAUKEE -- From here on out, it’s the Heat vs. the NBA. Everyone wants to be the team that ends the Heat’s winning streak.
“Teams want to beat us more and more,” Dwyane Wade said. “They’re tired of hearing about it on ESPN. They want to watch ESPN like everyone else. They’re tired of hearing the Heat.”
Or, if you’re Paul Pierce, you just want the Heat to lose period.
Pierce was asked about the Heat’s streak Friday morning and quipped, “I really don’t even care. I hope they lose every game the rest of the season.”
The Celtics host the Heat on Monday at TD Garden.
If the Heat’s streak survives Sunday’s game against Toronto, then chances are Pierce’s comments will be used as a source of motivation inside the Heat’s locker room.
Of course, it’s not like the Heat needs any more motivation against Pierce and the Celtics.
Upon defeating the Heat in Miami back in 2011, Pierce took a shot at the newly formed super team on Twitter with some unforgettable trash talk.
“It’s been a pleasure bringing my talents to South Beach,” Pierce wrote.
Udonis Haslem responded to the dig by calling Pierce a “studio gangster.” Since then, the rivalry has only gotten better.
The Heat knocked the Celtics out of the playoffs in 2011 and 2012 and former Celtics star Ray Allen joined the Heat last summer.
Wade shrugged off Pierce’s comments Monday and agreed with Boston’s star. “He should” want the Heat to lose, Wade said.
“Why would he want us to win?” Wade asked. “I understand, you know. So, I would feel the same way.”
The Heat’s victory against the Sixers, win No. 20 in the winning streak, moved Miami one game ahead of Pierce’s 2008-09 Celtics in the record books.
That team won 19 consecutive games and, before the Heat came along, held the NBA record for most consecutive wins by a defending champion.
The Bradley Center was rocking for the Heat’s final visit of the regular season.
If Bucks guard Brandon Jennings gets his way, it won’t be the last time the Heat fills the seats in Milwaukee. Jennings indicated Monday that he wouldn’t mind matching up with the Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
"It’s not just about the streak; it’s more than that,” Jennings said Monday morning. “This is a team we could see in the first round of the playoffs, so it means more than just trying to break a streak. It means just to try to send a message to them that if we are in the eighth spot still this is something they are going to have to deal with.”
The Bucks are currently eighth in the Eastern Conference standings. During its streak, the Heat has walked away with the No.1 seed.
Before Friday night, the Heat was 9 1/2 games ahead of second-place Indiana. LeBron James said before the game that it was never too early to begin preparing for a possible playoff opponent.
“Getting to know them, if it’s going to fall that way,” James said. “We can learn a lot about them. There’s not much you can change from March to April when the playoffs start, so we can start to learn their tendencies tonight and if that becomes a first-round opponent then we’ll be more than prepared for it.”
While James is having another MVP-caliber season, Wade is putting up some of the best numbers of his career.
Is Wade currently second on the list of the league’s most valuable players?
A case can be made. Consider this: In his 11 games before Friday night in Milwaukee, Wade had shot at least 50 percent from the field while also scoring at least 20 points in every game.
The last player to pull off that type of efficient and productive run was Michael Jordan way back during the 1995-96 season. Jordan did it in 11 consecutive games.