NBA: Heat snap Celtics' unbeaten run, 4 other NBA win streaks whose end came as a surprise

Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters celebrates after making a three point basket during the second half of the Heat's 104-98 win over the Boston Celtics on Nov 22, 2017. The win snapped the Celtics' 16-game winning streak.
Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters celebrates after making a three point basket during the second half of the Heat's 104-98 win over the Boston Celtics on Nov 22, 2017. The win snapped the Celtics' 16-game winning streak.PHOTO: USA TODAY

SINGAPORE - The Boston Celtics' unbeaten run this National Basketball Association (NBA) season was always going to end at some point but not many would have been expecting the struggling Miami Heat (8-9 record) to be the party poopers.

It had been shaping up to be another late comeback on Thursday (Nov 23) before a 13-0 Celtics run in the fourth quarter was halted in its tracks by a Dion Waiters three-pointer that bounced once on the rim and again on top of the backboard before dropping in.

The mercurial Heat guard then put the NBA-leading 16-3 Celtics away with another three and a dunk in the closing seconds, finishing with 26 points on 11-of-26 shooting.

To add to the Celtics' disbelief, this was the same player who had gone 0-of-10 from the field on Sunday against the Indiana Pacers, which only goes to show that nothing is certain in sport.

Here are five other times when things did not go according to script for teams holding a long winning streak:

1. Dec 12, 2015: Golden State Warriors 95 Milwaukee Bucks 108

The 2015-16 Warriors had not lost in 28 games going back to the previous season, the second-longest win streak in NBA history behind the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers (33 wins). They were also a perfect 24-0, the best start any NBA team has recorded, led by the Big Three of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

Up against them were the 9-15 Bucks, a young rebuilding team centred around the 21-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo, a team hoping to squeak into the play-offs at best. But the Bucks' three best players of Antetokounmpo, guard Khris Middleton and forward Jabari Parker combined for just 37 points.

Implausibly, it was Bucks journeyman centre Greg Monroe who was the star of the day as he scored 28 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and handed out five assists.

The Bucks also had their own Dion Waiters in swingman O.J. Mayo, a player who has found himself out of the NBA today at just 30 years old. Mayo, who averaged less than eight points per game for the season, scored 18 points for the flukey stat-line of the day.

2. March 27, 2013: Miami Heat 97 Chicago Bulls 101

The Miami Heat were at the wrong end of a surprise defeat back in 2013, the peak of their own Big Three era featuring multiple All-Stars LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.

The Heat were unbeaten in 27 games, then the second-longest win streak in NBA history until the aforementioned Warriors broke it, and went on to win the second of two consecutive championships in May.

Meanwhile, the Bulls were a team going nowhere fast. They had gone toe-to-toe with the Heat in the previous season's play-offs but had lost their best player and 2011 Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose for the entire season after he suffered a knee injury.

James was his usual self, scoring 32 points to go with seven rebounds and three assists, but he was matched by his Bulls opposite number Luol Deng who had 28 points, seven boards and five assists.

To keep up a running theme, the game was decided by the Bulls' version of Dion Waiters: three-time Slam Dunk champion Nate Robinson. The point guard scored three of the Bulls' last five points, including a clutch free throw, to finish with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

3. March 4, 2000: Los Angeles Lakers 102 Washington Wizards 109

The 1999-2000 season was the year when Shaquille O'Neal finally made good on his immense talent to win his first NBA title after eight seasons in the league, averaging 29.7 points, 13.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.0 blocks per game. It was also the first title he won as part of a dynamic duo with Kobe Bryant. The Lakers that year compiled not one but two of the NBA's longest winning streaks with 19 wins and 16 wins respectively.

Which made the 29-53 Wizards an odd candidate to end the 19-win streak. Their best player was a 34-year-old Mitch Richmond and the biggest news the team generated all year was when then-retired superstar Michael Jordan joined the team's management as vice-president.

But never underestimate the rest of the league's desire to see a win streak end. Richmond, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014, rolled back the years to score 32 points and attacked the basket relentlessly all game, getting 15 of his points at the free-throw line.

And while no one that year was stopping O'Neal, who scored 40, the Wizards' defence limited Bryant to just seven points on 2-of-10 shooting.

4. Feb 4, 1996: Chicago Bulls 99 Denver Nuggets 105

This was a Bulls team many seasoned NBA fans consider to be the best of all time, finishing with a 72-10 regular season record and winning the championship. The team featured Hall-of-Famers Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, the league's top rebounder Dennis Rodman, and a deep bench with the likes of Toni Kukoc and Steve Kerr.

The Bulls were 41-4 and riding an 18-game win streak when they met the 19-26 Nuggets in Denver. Down 25 points at half-time, the Bulls put together a 39-16 third quarter to close the gap to two going into the last frame, but that was as close as they got.

The Bulls' schedule might have caught up with them, as they were playing their third road game in four days. Jordan scored 39 points on an inefficient 13-of-29 from the field, while Pippen fared even worse in the high altitude of Colorado, shooting just 4-of-15.

For the Nuggets, the Dion Waiters Award was won by point guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who scored 32 points with four rebounds and nine assists.