This never was about mere division titles. Monday night's victory over the Boston Celtics coupled with the Atlanta Hawks' loss to the Dallas Mavericks clinched that for the Miami Heat. This isn't even about the top seed in the Eastern Conference, with the Heat's magic number for clinching that distinction down to five -- any combination of Heat victories or Indiana Pacers losses -- after Monday's escape at TD Garden. And even amid the undeniable reality that the Heat are keeping an eye on their overall legacy, now at 23 consecutive victories, 10 from the NBA record set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, forward Shane Battier insists it's still too early to even consider those possibilities. What this is about is something that Battier believes has gotten lost amid all the other subplots: The Heat still are in a tight race with the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder for the top overall seed in the playoffs. When you're 30-3 at home, it is a potential advantage not taken lightly. "The only thing we look at is San Antonio and Oklahoma, the guys we are battling," Battier said as the Heat turned their attention to Wednesday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena, the final stop on this five-game trip. "Those guys are still pushing it. It doesn't matter how many you win. We won 23 [in a row], but San Antonio never loses, and Oklahoma never loses." Battier said the focus remains so much in the moment that he insisted he did not know the Heat's next opponent after the Cavaliers (Friday at home against the Detroit Pistons). "We've maintained the entire time that this is about standard of play," he said. "This is about sharpening who we are as we march toward the playoffs. That's all that matters. "The wins have been a great by-product and great copy for everybody and great stories. But it's about our standard of play and improving and building momentum for what is a larger goal for us."
Division, winning streak secondary to Heat in big picture
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Mar 20