Friday, May 10, 2013

Heat - Bulls Game 3: King Cobra Kills Battered Mongoose

Not All That Fun To Watch
One of my least favorite sports cliches is how such and such teams do not like each other, as if liking each other was some kind of default condition in sports, or the preferred state. At best, it's tired; at worst, it's damn near dead. And yet, well, these teams. There's more than dislike here; there is disdain, contempt, distaste. Miami thinks that the Bulls are talentless thugs who ruin the game. Chicago thinks that the Heat are frauds who get bailed out by their reputations and the refs. And the only thing that's keeping me from really getting into this series more is that I pretty much agree with both sides, and watch their games while basically just waiting for them to get off my screen and give me More Dubs.

Watching this game was like watching a wounded mongoose try to take down an anaconda; on some level, perfectly matched for each other (with the game tonight, Miami is now 10-9 in the last 19 games), and yet they shouldn't be. Chicago is playing guys that are borderline NBA players, and not getting killed for it. Nate Robinson has never been a part of a very good team before, and Marco Belinilli couldn't get bench minutes on bad teams at many different stops. Jimmy Butler is a full-on defensive Jedi, but he's a going against LeBron Freaking James. Miami should be turning this into a turnover fest and dunk clinic every game, the way they did in Game Two, and the fact that they haven't in 2 out of 3 games tells you how important coaching is at this level, and how much better Tom Thibodeau is at it than Erik Spoelstra. If these teams traded coaches, I think Miami wins 70 games, and the Bulls win 30.

It also means that the games seem to come in two flavors: meat grinder or Heat blowout. Tonight, James and Dwyane Wade were surprisingly passive for much of the game, and won only because their supporting crowd showed up. And since this was the Meat Grinder game, you can pretty ignore much of it, and just focus at the close, where Norris Cole hit some monster shots, Chris Bosh got away with an absurd flop, and the Bulls got a second straight game of rope-a-dope work from refs who seem incapable of seeing through ploys that would get snickers in a pro wrestling ring.

Since it was close, and since James hit some huge shots late, you will think from the highlights that this was great hoop and that the Heat were really tested. And, well, I guess. But to me, I saw a team with no margin for error play against a team with a wide one, and a team that doesn't miss free throws, or turn it over late, slowly but surely squeeze the life out of the game.

Oh, and a ton of glares and flops and MEH. More Dubs Now, Please.

Game Four is Sunday, and a Heat win will get this series back to the simple squash we all anticipated. A Bulls win might make the series long enough to get back a player or two before they get eliminated.

But, well, they are getting eliminated. The mongoose is too beat up, and this snake is just way too damned big.

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