An Ultra Basketball Festival is what every Heat game has become. Each game in this streak takes on a growing drama, no matter the ease or difficulty of the result.
You know how tension builds in a seven-game playoff series? With each game bigger and more important than the previous one?
This has turned into what amounts to a 34-game series for the Heat, and Miami must win every game, or it loses.
The larger prize is out there, of course, waiting beyond this one being chased. It is called an NBA championship. Another one. A repeat title.
“We have a bigger goal,” as Spoelstra put it. “Not to disrespect the streak.”
Now, though, Miami must have both or else the season will have been a disappointment in some way. Those are the stakes now.
That is how phenomenal this team and season have become.
A winning-streak record not followed by a title would be a major letdown. But falling short of the streak record, after getting this close, would be a disappointment and regret that even another championship would not entirely erase.
I’m not positive that even a second consecutive championship would be bigger than this hallowed, 41-year-old streak record — not in the broadest sense. Not in terms of historical significance.
Plenty of teams win a championship. Even two in a row does not distinguish you entirely. But a 34-game (or more) win streak would. It would rise to that shortest list of untouchable sports records. It would validate a team’s claim to greatness in a way perhaps exceeding even a championship.
We’d admit that’s arguable. So is this: What is bigger right now in Miami sports? This Heat streak? Or the Hurricanes men’s NCAA run as a No. 2 seed?
How delightful we might even HAVE that debate.
The Heat must win nine more games in a row to set the all-time record. The Canes must win five more in a row (after Friday’s opening rout of Pacific) to win the national championship.
Which is likelier?
That we might even ask — that both are legitimately possible — is enough to make the mind swoon.
“Crazy,” to quote Mr. James.