Bulls 93, Heat 86
Forty-eight hours after dispatching the Nets in Brooklyn (apart of the trio of bad publicity events the borough received over a 72 hour stretch), the Chicago Bulls “shocked” the basketball world by stealing Game 1 against the Heat in Miami. Why the quotations? Well, because while not a lot of people gave them a shot to win the game, let alone the series, the win isn’t all that surprising. Chicago’s a tough scrappy squad who has taken on the hard hat mentality of their coach Tom Thibodeau over the years. They win because everyone buys into mindset. One man goes down – in this case, 1,250 men go down – the next one is ready to accept the task at hand. And such was the case Monday night.
Blame Miami’s “rust” or whatever the case may be if pleas are looking to be copped, but the Bulls still ended on a 10-0 run, which included several big plays from that Nate Robinson character down the stretch who finished with 27 points and nine assists.
And it needs to be said, Jimmy Butler must have the greatest endurance in the NBA. Buddy hasn’t gotten a minute of rest since Game 5 against the Nets and doesn’t stand to now that Luol Deng is out indefinitely following a spinal tap. Add that with the fact he’s going to be the one guarding LeBron the entire series, and he still managed 21 points and 14 rebounds in Game 1, and I’d say that’s impressive to say at the very least. Chicago’s got something special in Jimmy B.
Meanwhile, for Miami, it now becomes a matter of ensuring they snag Game 2 because of the growing sentiment you-know-who could make his season/playoff debut on Friday at the United Center. That’s out of their control.
However, what is in their control, is not starting the game off hitting everything but the bottom of the net. Or not having LeBron wait until the second half to get going. Yes, because I’m sure someone will remind me anyway, here’s your “LeBron chokes” .gif, America. Cherish the moment. Anywho, and another critical adjustment for Game 2 is having Norris Cole stick Nate Robinson late in games because it’s obvious Mario Chalmers can’t stay in front of Chicago’s Tiny Tim.
Dah, well. Game 2 is set for Wednesday at 7:00 PM EST.
Spurs 129, Warriors 127
It’s hard to find the right combination of words to describe Game 1 of the Western Conference Semis. Down 16 with four minutes to go, the San Antonio Spurs appeared destined to take a loss. Home court advantage would be lost as the media compared Golden State’s upset to other all-time great games.
But Tony Parker (team-high 28 points) wouldn’t allow it. The Spurs’ staple at guard dropped bucket after bucket, forcing overtime. After two back-and-forth periods, the Spurs would prevail 129-127, stealing victory in a way that only such a historical juggernaut could. Steph Curry paced the Warriors with 44 points and 11 assists, logging 57 minutes (he was 0-8 on jump shots after the third quarter, a probable product of his usage).
The bucket of the night belonged to Manu Ginobili (who finished with 16 points and 11 assists). With his team down 127-126 (thanks, in part, to the Argentinean’s flat-footed three-point attempt possessions earlier) and three seconds on the clock, Ginobili hit a three-point dagger to give his team their final lead. Manu wasn’t alone. In the two overtime quarters, Danny Green and Boris Diaw hit huge threes, providing the kind of old-school-meets-new-school chemistry that has many people pegging San Antonio as the best of the West.
I used to hate the Spurs. Legitimately hate them, their 2007 assault on the Cavaliers in the Finals was the fuel to my fire. Now? As a basketball fan, I can’t help but admire them. They are best franchise in basketball (and possibly in North American sports), and, as fun as its been to watch Steph Curry blossom into such a star, Golden State (assuming I’m not jinxing anything) does not have what it takes to beat the Spurs four out of the next six games.
As Game 1 proved, the Spurs have the rare combination of talent and confidence to come back from deficits that would have other teams thinking about their post-game plans. This game bodes well for the rest of the series – and the rest of the playoffs.
PSA: Much, much respect to all who participated in the open thread from last night helping provide further proof why our comment section trumps the competition. Fresh respected.