Round 3, Game 3 (Miami v Chicago)

Here we go.  I’ve decided that I’m going to change the way I write these blogs to cater to more analysis than recap, which I feel is more interesting both to me as a writer and any reader who is a true basketball fan.

The Bulls v Heat game last night was one of the greatest slugfests I have seen in ages.  It completely contrasts the Western Conference Finals where the Mavs and Thunder are racking up the points and (until Collison’s beat-down of Nowitzki in game 3) are playing a far less physical and athletic game.  Maybe this is indicative of a greater shift in style and play in the two conferences, but I’ll get to that (hopefully) in a separate blog.

From the opening tip, Miami and Chicago were in a state of constant, flowing motion.  It seemed like everything was happening at hyper-speeds and hyper-quickness.  There were stretches in the game where the ball was moving back and forth down the court with both teams stuck in perpetual fast-breaks.  Never did either team stop, and walk the ball up the court – make or miss.  The game revolved entirely around speed and athleticism.  Fouls, though plentiful, were called only for the harshest of contact.  Seemingly every possession featured loose balls and balls tipped out of bounds.

James, Wade, Rose, Deng, Brewer, Gibson, and Bosh are all exceptional athletes and have turned this series into a cross between a track meet and fumble drill.  On one particular sequence in the first half, Wade missed a dunk allowing the Bulls to get out on the break.  Chicago, however, promptly turned it back over and James who stole the ball, proceeded to lead another break going the other way.  On the break, he passed to Wade who got stripped by Boozer who outletted it to Rose.  Rose then was off to the races, penetrating and kicking to a seemingly wide-open Deng, who promptly had the ball knocked out of this hands by a racing James who was hustling back on the play.

The turning point in this one, I believe, was actually a miss.  With 10 or so seconds left in the 3rd quarter, Luol Deng rose up and hit a 3 to cut the Heat’s lead to 5 after it had reached 11 (I believe) a couple minutes earlier.  It looked like Chicago might be able to steal some of the momentum going into the 4th.  Deng then stole the inbounds pass and it looked like a repeat of Miller’s fantastic come-from-behind 3-steal-3 combination.  However, it was not to be, Deng, having stolen the pass, turned and fired up a shot (2-pointer) with 2 seconds left on the clock.  It clanked and all the momentum seemed sapped from the Bulls.  The lead was still just 5, but it felt like more.  Chicago never got it back to 3 the rest of the game from what I can recall.

The player of the game in my estimation was Lebron James.  He “only” scored 22 points, but did so in an incredibly efficient fashion (6/13 from the floor).  Furthermore, His Quitness hauled in 6 boards, dished 10 dimes, and touched off the magnificent performance with a pair of blocks and steals – all while anchoring what might be the most stifling defense I have ever seen.  James is reckless in transition both offensively and defensively and the Heat are actually following his lead.  In a strange twist of irony, Lebron may actually be regaining his leader status that he lost when he left the Cavs.

Going forward, I just don’t see any way in which the Bulls can come back and win this series.  They need to win at least 1 game on the road (basically, game 4 on tuesday night) and, though they have been close, they just look outmatched.  They haven’t held extended leads in 2 games now and don’t have the ability to close games, because Rose has to make two great plays to make up for every time Lebron and Wade make plays.  Rose is great and needs to be in the conversation for best player in the NBA, but there is no math in the world that makes him equal to both Wade and James.  And that’s what this series is going to come down to.

Chicago is more fundamentally sound defensively, more aggressive offensively, and more desperate on every loose ball and rebound.  But Miami is just more athletic and talented where it count.  No matter how hard Korver, Bogans, Boozer, Noah, Gibson, Asik and Deng play, the SuperFriends will win in a 7 game series.

Yours Truly,

Basketblogger

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