This is LeBron‘s personal retribution tour. Whenever we think we have him figured out, have the Heat pinned down to finally wilt and fall apart against better “teams,” the NBA’s Most Hated steps up. He closed out Boston, ended any chance their reign had of surviving. And late last night, with Chicago pushing hard for what could’ve been a commanding 2-0 lead, LeBron hit a three, then hit one tough pull-up J after another. In the last four-and-a-half minutes, the score was ‘Bron: 9 and the Bulls: 2. It wasn’t exactly Dirk-like (or as Kenny Smith would say, the German Shepherd…terrible by the way), but it got the job done in a way that people don’t expect from the King. Before Game 1, James mentioned this series won’t be for everyone. If you’re a casual basketball fan, he said — if you like scoring — you might want to stay focused on the finals out West (see Nowitzki, Dirk and Durant, Kevin), and after the Heat pulled out a gritty, backyard brawl over the Bulls, 85-75, it looks like LBJ might’ve been right. Three full days after Chicago gave the Heatles a South Side-style beatdown, Miami gave them a taste of their own bloody chin — matching the defensive intensity and reckless abandon on the boards that Chicago brought in chapter one of what’s going to be an epic series. That intensity surprised us; in the first quarter, Chicago went up seven (Luol Deng made a 60-foot shot), and it felt like deja vu. Another offensive rebound? We felt like we said that at least a half dozen times in the first frame. Early on, the Heat could’ve wheeled in Michael Jordan‘s statue from outside and it would’ve rebounded better. It would’ve fit in nicely with the three or four statues they already have sitting on the bench … There were a few points in the first half where we were convinced Mario Chalmers had no clue where he was or what he was doing … We can’t forget how the Big Two bounced back from a combined 33 points on Sunday. It didn’t look easy but Dwyane Wade (24 points, nine rebounds) and LeBron (29 points, 10 rebounds) picked their spots and found oppprtunities to efficiently score. For LeBron, he dropped his despite Deng’s defense and ill bird-of-prey wingspan. At times early, Bron-Bron almost refused to participate offensively. Chris Bosh would come to set a screen or the whole team would clear out for an iso and LeBron would just send it back out. Not. Interested. We started wondering if this is why he REALLY came to Miami, to not have to work against the great perimeter defenders. But we were wrong. Dude closed it out like your parents’ door during adult time … Big shout out to Udonis Haslem (13 points, five rebounds). Whether he was stuffing Chicago’s early Thanksgiving turkey or knocking down 15-foot J’s, his energy, his sweet rows and his 23 minutes brought a street swag back to Miami. Even though LeBron was a monster late, it was Haslem who might’ve won it for the Heat in the third quarter. For a while, he was their only offense, coming out of nowhere for two huge dunks and a couple of jumpers. He helped offset the rebounding difference (Miami was plus-four in this one). There’s no question that if they make a Haslem biopic that Michael K. Williams (Omar from “The Wire”) will play the version of Haslem we know today. But who’s gonna play the chubby college Udonis? Early favorite is the fat kid from “Old School.” Or if it has to be a young guy with more athleticism, cast any random D-lineman from Florida State, Florida, or The U … Chicago scored 26 in the first quarter, and then followed that up with 29 points in the second half…should’ve been 27 but the refs got sucked into Taj Gibson‘s flight plan on one play and allowed the dude to straight up hang on the rim while the ball was bouncing around up there. We have to give a shout-out to Erik Spoelstra (and his perfectly coiffed hair) for his strategy to send traps towards Derrick Rose (21 points, eight assists) in the half-court. Spoelstra knows D-Rose is gonna get 20+ in a coma, but by sending both defenders towards him in pick-n-roll situations, it gets the ball out of his hands as much as possible. It sends the roll man (usually Joakim Noah) out to the foul line to take that pass and play point forward. And when Noah is out at the foul line, he’s not doing his French caveman routine on the offensive glass … Who caught Noah giving the Worm some love last night? On one hand, it’s really cool that Noah respects that dude. But if we’re the Bulls, we are a little nervous. Noah already has that long hair to begin with … We’re out like Oprah.
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