ORLANDO, Florida For Chris Bosh, the entire NBA season has felt like one big playoff game and there was no easing up on Monday as the Miami Heat dumped the Orlando Magic 108-94 to extend their winning streak to 27 games.
As the reigning NBA champions, the Heat are used to seeing the best from the opposition but the target has grown a little bigger as they close in on the Los Angeles Lakers' record of 33 consecutive wins.
"It's kind of like 82 playoff games especially now since this streak happened," said Bosh, who contributed 12 points and nine rebounds on Monday. "We know that guys bring their best against us, that's the world we live in.
"When you get used to that and you're challenged, you don't have room for error every night and you get better.
"It's our normal."
Certainly, the Heat had more than many might have expected from the lowly Magic.
While Orlando own the second worst record in the NBA with just 18 wins and are a staggering 38.5 games back of their state rivals, the Florida Derby has not been as lop-sided as the records would suggest.
Earlier in March, the Heat almost saw their run halted at 15 games until James hit a lay-up with just three seconds to play, securing Miami a 97-96 win. On New Year's Eve the Magic took Miami to overtime before falling 112-110.
The job of stopping the streaking Heat on Monday was a lot tougher for the under-manned Magic who were without their top two scorers, Arron Afflalo and Nikola Vucevic.
The Heat were also missing one of their 'Big Three', with Dwyane Wade sitting out for a second straight game with a sore right knee.
The All-Star guard was not missed, however, as LeBron James once again put his stamp on the contest, sparking a 20-2 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters and put the contest out of reach.
LIVING THE DREAM
Playing the second of back-to-back contests, James had a quiet opening half with six points and one assist but delivered when the game was on the line, finishing one rebound shy of a triple-double with 24 points, 11 assists and nine boards.
"It's another day to play basketball, we're living our dream, just having fun with these guys," said Bosh. "It's another day at the job but we enjoy doing it.
"We know that when we go out there we do our job and we do it well."
As the Heat's streak has picked up steam, so has interest.
Seats for Monday's game were being offered for $1,125 just hours before tipoff on ticket re-sale sites. There were plenty of seats for Friday's contest against the Washington Wizards available for $10-$12.
After back-to-back games against the NBA's two bottom feeders, the Charlotte Bobcats and Orlando, the Heat's road to the record could get a little bumpier with the Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Hornets and Western conference-leading San Antonio Spurs on deck to close out March.
"We'll take this and move on to the next game of our business trip," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "Each game is not going to be perfect, you have to figure games out and we were able to do that."
While James, Bosh and Wade came together at Miami to win titles, it was always understood they might make a little history along the way.
Their winning streak is now the second-longest among all North American major professional sports and is now just six away from the Lakers' mark set in 1971-72.
"We envisioned challenging history but you never know what kind of way," said Bosh. "We just wanted to win. I know I wanted to win and that's all that is really important to us.
"You do want to win championships, that is our main goal, that's the reason we came together but I guess you can challenge things along the way and you never know what is going to come up."
(Editing by Ian Ransom)