Heat Avenge Loss in Beautifully Ugly Blowout

heat bulls game 2

Birdman and Noah are held back after a disagreement on hairstyles

 

by The Ryno

 

Now that’s more like it.

The Miami Heat avenged their embarrassing Game 1 loss, blowing out the Chicago Bulls 115-78 to tie the series.

The Heat treated Game 2 as a must-win, and in turn Heat fans were treated to the ugliest, dirtiest, trash-talkingist game in years. It was  a thing of beauty.

Playoff basketball is always intense, but Wednesday night felt like Pat Riley and Vince McMahon got together and created the XBA. Every player that stepped on the court was an asshole. 9 technicals (most in an NBA playoff game since 2001), 1 flagrant and 2 ejections give you an idea as to the extent of this slugfest.

But this was exactly how Game 2 had to be for the defending champs who let an injury-depleted Bulls C-team abuse them to start the series. Some tried to blame the long rest following the Bucks “series”, but that ignores that the Bulls are one of the only teams in the Association with an actual gameplan to beat the Heat. Chicago is 9-9 against the Heat’s Big 3; they’re 2-2 this season, and of course, no one near Lake Michigan will forget who stopped the Heat’s streak at 27.

Tom Thibodeau is a great coach who gets more out of his beaten-down players than Jerry Sandusky, and learned long ago the best way to cool off the Heat is to beat the crap out of them and slow down the game. Thibs plan certainly worked in Game 1; the Bulls came out swinging and refused to let Miami catch fire. LeBron didn’t score til 7 minutes in, and not again til the 3rd. Wade was scoreless until 8 minutes in, and then put up a Jason Kidd-head goose-egg in the 2nd half. Bosh and Chalmers couldn’t hit a bucket until the 3rd quarter. The Big 3 was held to 12 first half points, their worst half since taking their talents across the bridge from South Beach.

Then came the 4th quarter. The Heat destroyed teams late all season, but even with James scoring 15 of his 24 in the 4th, the Bulls outscored them 34-25 and closed-out on a 10-0 run.

It was a complete ass-whopping, and it led to Skip Bayless-like panic in South Florida. Everyone forget about the 66-16 record, 27 game win streak and that dude who just got his 4th MVP. All they could focus on was the late-game choke and the 2011 Finals-type body language.

So the Heat had to respond. They countered with the biggest win in Heat playoff history, and handed the Bulls their biggest loss in team playoff history.

middle finger lady heat bulls

Stay Classy, Miami

But Game 2 certainly didn’t start out as a blowout. LeBron shot out the gate 6 for 6, but the score was pretty knotted up late in the 2nd. That was until  with Miami up 42-38, Norris Cole hit a couple big 3s, and propelled the Heat to a 62-20 point run.

You read that correctly: 62-20.

Cole finished with 18, including a couple nasty rebounds and athletic put-ins. Ray Allen put up 21, and shot 10-10 from the line. James finished with 19 and 9 assists, including a few jaw-dropping passes in the 3rd that will certainly make the 2013 highlight reel (see GIFs below). Wade and Bosh put up 15 and 13. The hot Heat shot 60% for the game, and were up by 46 at one point in the 4th before Joel Anthony, Common and Airbud came on in mop-up duty.

So how did Miami flip the switch from a lackluster Game 1? Besides actually hitting shots, they pushed, shoved, swung, choked, and shit-talked from the get-go. Game 2 seemed less like an NBA game, and looked/sounded more like a Tarantino biopic of Michael Jordan and Karl Malone.

Udonis threw Nate Robinson to the floor on the first series of the game. A few plays later, Wade threw the ball at Belinelli after falling out of bounds. LeBron was uncharacteristically asshole-ish, he threw bows, set physical screens and caught an early T for jawing with Noah. Chalmers roped Bulls by the neck, got in faces and spent plenty lot of time physically and verbally goading Noah into a 2nd tech. Birdman plowed through the court like a tattooed John Deere, throwing shoulders and collecting fouls like Garbage Pail Kids.

There was so much violent intensity and obvious hatred on the court, it felt that at any moment Jeff Van Gundy was about to jump out and hang onto Chris Bosh’s leg.

bulls heat noah lebron

Noah must have pulled out the Delonte card.

Thibodeau’s Bulls are masters at doling out the abuse, but they certainly couldn’t take it Wednesday. Tempers flared, Noah and Taj Gibson were ejected for being loud pricks, and Nate “I’m not Kevin Hart” Robinson finally shut his stitched-up mouth once he realized 3 of 10 ain’t enough to drown out the “Bring Back Rose” crowd.

The Heat’s street-ball play certainly didn’t look spontaneous. Spoelstra must have lambasted the hell out of his team after an apathetic Monday night, and likely put a bounty on anyone wearing red. Riley almost definitely stopped by the clubhouse to respectfully tell his boys to stop being pussies, and give them a “12 strong” speech followed by “1 strong” middle finger.

The result was a national reminder that Miami is the best team in the league. Once they got Stella’s groove back, the Heat flew around the court, unselfishly passed til they found the open man, hit wide-open shots, and murdered the Bulls with defense so devastating Wayne LaPierre called to ask if they needed him to send some good guys with guns.

That’s what happens when you make the Heat angry. You won’t like them when they’re angry. The Heat hadn’t been challenged in months, so Spoelstra probably loved the fact that the Bulls embarrassed them Monday night. The Bulls whooping gave Spo the most valuable coaching tool of all…fear of loss. And it worked.

Game 1 was a reminder that no matter what the regular season showed, the Heat could still be fallible.

Game 2 reminded us that they really aren’t.

 lebron chicago bulls

 

Other Notes:

  • There was a point in the 3rd when LeBron realized he was fully back on track, and clearly decided it was time to get his teammates back in the mix – particularly Dwyane Wade. Sure, James put up a 0 in the 3rd quarter points column, but he dished out five clutch assists to bring the swagger back to the defending champs. It was masterful to watch James take over and make his partner catch fire. It was the ultimate display of maturity and leadership. Plus, we got to see stuff like this: 

sick pass lebron wade

BehindTheBack_original

  • There’s a lot of talk about Derrick Rose and whether or not he’ll suit up when the series returns to Chicago. Rose refuses to answer my emails, but I just don’t see why he would return. Unless he’s the one person in America who believes the Bulls will beat the Heat, Rose should keep his ass on the bench. All returning does is open him up to being blamed for killing team chemistry and distracting a team that has made it this far without him. It is a lose (his knee) – lose (reputation) – lose (status on his team)-  lose (credibility) situation.  Besides, this article on the Bulls staff’s reputation for rushing players back is pretty eye-opening: Derrick Rose and the history of the Bulls letting players break themselves — SB Nation

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One Comment

  1. The stare into the camera by Birdman at the end of this play epitomized the game. The whole team now has their gameface officially on.