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Saturday, May 11th, 2013 at 9:35 am  |  44 responses

Post Up: King Moves

LeBron James leads the Heat to a big win; Tony Parker and the Spurs go up 2-1 on the Warriors.

Miami 104, Chicago 94 (Heat lead 2-1)

The Bulls played with a characteristic passion that fired up the entire city of Chicago, but they couldn’t hold back the Heat down the stretch.

The Heat returned to Chicago for the first time since the Bulls ended their 27-game win streak and out-scored the Bulls 34-24 in the fourth quarter Friday night to come up with a 10-point win. LeBron James came up big when it mattered, scoring 17 points second-half points (12 in the fourth) and shot a Jesus Shuttlesworth-esque 11-11 at the line. lebron james

James hit a triple with 2:35 remaining, Norris Cole knocked down a monstrous three-ball with 1:48 left and James sealed the deal by converting a three-point play with 1:23 to play.

But it was Chris Bosh who stepped up big for the Heat after a quiet first two games of the series. A red-hot Bosh became the first player to record at least 20 points, 19 rebounds and 4 assists in the Playoffs since James did it wearing a Cavs uniform in 2010.

Cole, who had 18 points in Game 2, matched that output in Game 3 by continuing his hot outside shooting. The backup PG was 3-3 from outside and is a perfect 8-8 from three-point range in the series. He missed one shot all night long.

Dwyane Wade was surprisingly quiet again, finishing with only 10 points on an efficient 5-7 shooting. It was his fourth straight Playoff game of 15 or fewer points—the first such scoring drought in his career. Wade, interestingly, has only made one free throw in the series.

Carlos Boozer had his best night of the series, hitting five of his first six shots en route to a team-high 21 points, but the big man went quiet when it mattered.

Every Bulls starter scored more than 15 points, but Chicago’s bench was atrocious. Nazr Mohammed provided the most memorable reserve moment for the Bulls when he bear-hugged James with 9:29 remaining in the second quarter. LeBron pushed him off (and got hit with a technical), and Mohammed retaliated by pushing LeBron to the floor, leading to an ejection.

Chicago dominated the paint from the outset—outscoring Miami 44-28 down low—but it didn’t matter. The Heat, in the Big Three era, are now 10-0 after trailing 0-1 in a series.—Ryne Nelson / @slaman10

San Antonio 102, Golden State 92 (Spurs lead 2-1)

“We all just got together and said that we must play harder. That was the focal point, going hard.” —Spurs reserve guard Cory Joseph

There was a point in the first quarter of Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Spurs and Warriors where I didn’t feel too good about the Warriors’ chances. Things were just coming a little too easy for the Spurs. Every pass was crisp, ever player seemed in sync, every shot seemed either easy or wide open. The answers just didn’t seem there.

That’s when it became obvious that this was going to be Tony Parker’s night.

Parker stated after the game that he noticed the Warriors defense watched film and decided to push him left. So during pre-game, Parker focused on warming up on that side of the floor and it paid incredible dividends. Ten of Parker’s 13 field goals came from the left side of the court, and his final line of 32 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists was the exclamation point on a Spurs 102-92 win with a performance that seemed relentless.

“They execute you to death. They’ve got a lot of ball movement and man movement. They’re unselfish. They’re disciplined. That’s who they are. They’ve been that way for a long time. They’ve won a lot of ballgames that way.” —Warriors head coach Mark Jackson

Where the Spurs were precise in their execution, the Warriors seemed compromised. More specifically, it felt like they were searching for some mojo, or something to give them some hope. Maybe the Andrew Bogut dunk on Boris Diaw would inspire. Maybe that’s why Mark Jackson went to David Lee for a few minutes. Maybe Draymond Green’s miraculous and-one bank shot jumper (although he missed the free throw) could get the people going. Oracle was loud and raucous per usual, but it still wasn’t quite like what we were accustomed to.

Then Stephen Curry busted a flat tire on his ankle. Again.

The Bay Area’s favorite shooter had to resort to being Steve Kerr-y (Get it? Yes? No? OK) as the body english on No. 30 told the story.

I’m not right, it hurts bad, I’m going to chill in the corner as a decoy, OK?

Golden State’s three perimeter leaders—Curry, Klay Thompson and Jarrett Jack—combined to shoot 17-49 from the field as they were harassed by the tenacious Spurs defense. This was the first time during the Playoffs where none of the three players were “on”, but the role players chipped in where they could. Harrison Barnes led the scoring charge in the first half, Bogut did a fine job defending the rim and stifling Tim Duncan, and Draymond Green and Carl Landry did the dirty work and grunted out points. Their efforts were not enough and Mark Jackson’s got to go back to his bag of motivational speeches, schemes and strategies to figure out some new ways to break through the will of the Spurs.

Meanwhile, somewhere in some dark room, with some Johnny Cash playing and a 12-year scotch poured neat in a glass, Gregg Popovich is thinking of new ways to belittle us in the media and make fun of Craig Sager’s suit. A diabolical grin comes across his face as visions of tropical Now-N-Laters and Sager suits flash across his brain. Pure happiness for Pop. A new challenge in the Playoffs, new players to mold and develop and new deadpan one-liners to deliver to the shiny suit man. This is his life.

(I just hope and pray this is how Popovich actually lives…that would be awesome.)—Eduardo Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan

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  • http://twitter.com/1993Freckles Conor O’Hara

    i. Mohammed became my favourite basketball player last night.

    ii. Miami would not beat this Bulls team if the latter was healthy.

  • Max

    Miami was flopping all over the court.
    There should be tons of fines..

  • Dagger

    So a guy became your favourite player because he lost his cool and got ejected? You must not have much of an appreciation for actual basketball.

    And you think a healthy Bulls team would beat Miami based on . . . what, exactly? The fact that a lesser Heat team beat a superior Bulls team in 5 two years ago?

  • Max

    The fact that they won game 1 and kept it close in game 3 makes we wonder, what would happen if Chicago would be healthy?

  • Dagger

    Sure, but it’s always more complicated than “the Bulls may lose in 5 now, but they’d lose in 7 or perhaps win if they were healthy.” If the Bulls had all their pieces the matchups would change, their offense would change, their defense would change, and not all of those changes would necessarily benefit them against the Heat. If everything runs through Rose, is there as much movement to the offense? Is the offense too predictable? Can Lebron still hold Rose to a single-digit shooting percentage in the dying minutes of close games? Do the Bulls have the kind of shooting that can compensate for the Heat packing the paint?

    The bottom line is that there’s not much use in hypotheticals like this, but to the extent that you can make conclusions there’s a giant difference between “close 5 or 6 game series loss to a much more talented team” and “series win over a slightly more talented team.” In this context, for two reasons: first, I’m not convinced that the missing pieces would improve the Bulls sufficiently, and second, the Bulls would change, even as they improved, and that change might undermine some of those improvements against a team like the Heat.

  • http://twitter.com/trueballer4lif1 Melvin flynt

    Wonder all you want maybe next year haters Miami is gonna beat down those bulls!

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    The same thing that happened last time they were healthy. The Bulls just play Miami really well. But they aren’t actually beating them. Healthy or not.

  • http://twitter.com/1993Freckles Conor O’Hara

    Ever heard of something known as “sensationalism”, nitwit?

    Based on the fact that they’ve matched Miami step for step until exhaustion has settled in every game this series, using seven players at most. We exist in 2013, not 2011.

  • http://twitter.com/trueballer4lif1 Melvin flynt

    Rose gotta wear nike air shoes those crap Adidas shoes are no good for him! Look at the aftermath !

  • http://twitter.com/trueballer4lif1 Melvin flynt

    Good points dagger !

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Well played sir. Well played

  • Max

    Let’s hope they’re all healthy next year and they meet again.
    Then we can find out for ourselves.

  • spit hot fiyah

    should be, but probably wont be

  • Dagger

    I think you need to abolish words like “sensationalism” or “hyperbole” from your vocabulary until you can actually use them in a sentence that makes sense. Which, based on your other posts on this website, might take a while.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.callihan1 Chris Callihan

    What he said

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.callihan1 Chris Callihan

    Good try, but he definitely got the best of that argument

  • Drig

    Glad the Spurs won quickly at Oracle. Once both teams regress to their mean performance level, Spurs are simply better and they’ve got Pop. This was what I meant in the earlier post up thread. Warriors need to stop forcing shots and run actual plays that get them good open looks, even if Pop destroys their rhythm with the hackathon he runs at times. Too many times did they slip up when the Spurs presented chances because of rushed possessions……

    However, the L MUST do something about the hack-a-C tactics of Pop. I know it’s similar to targeting any other weakness of the opposing team but if NBA is really committed to putting the best product out there on the floor, it’d better amend the rule and let a team designated shooter shoot FTs if he’s hacked more than twice consecutively off the ball.

    It’d eliminate one strategy but would make for much better viewing IMO.

    Also, I’m surprised at how many mistakes the Spurs are making right now on O. Definitely doesn’t make for a good viewing. Memphis might roll through them at this rate because Spurs don’t even match up well with them…..

    I just caught the highlights of the Bulls-Heat series so my opinion might be a bit biased but……….How the hell did the Heat get away with such blatant flopping? How the hell did the refs let the game be called so physical? How the hell did the Bulls get screwed over so badly near the end??

    Pretty sure LBJ deserves a hefty fine. Pretty sure the L office will brush it under the rug though.

  • Caboose

    I agree with all that except the hack strategy. It’s definitely a huge part of the game and throws the other team’s rhythm off. I don’t understand the argument that it hurts the game, it’s an example of pure strategy when it matters most.

  • Caboose

    Interesting little tidbit: in the regular season, no player averaged 20-10 this year. Honestly, when was the last time that happened? Any historians out there wanna look it up?

  • Max

    It hurts the game in a way of fans enjoying the game, I’m pretty sure nobody likes to watch these happen.

  • Max

    “there has been at least one 20-10 player every season since the NBA started keeping rebounding stats in 1950-51.”
    http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2013/03/30/warner-nba-will-be-without-a-20-10-big-man-for-first-time/

  • http://twitter.com/AjpDos Allen Powell

    It is interesting how many folks believe this. Like this team is vastly different from the one that lost in five to an inferior Heat team. It really isn’t.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    “The decline of the NBA big man has never been more glaring. The best
    centers right now are Howard, Marc Gasol, Joakim Noah, Brook Lopez,
    Tyson Chandler and DeMarcus Cousins. (I’m not counting Andrew Bynum, who
    hasn’t played this season, or Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, who are
    past their primes and have always been hybrid bigs.)”

    The irony of course is that Tim Duncan was better than all those guys this year except maybe Markie Mark.

  • Max
  • Max

    Yeah I think he wrote that because almost everybody has Timmy and KG as PF’s.
    Even tho they both played center the whole season.

  • Slick Ric

    This team is different than that team in 2011 though so you and who else agrees with you just cant say that…. This years team has Belli and Nate who have proved consistently that they can create their own shot so that alone would relieve a lot of pressure off of Rose and even Deng and boozer but people aren’t going to look at this objectively because its the heat.

  • Caboose

    Absolutely nuts, isn’t it?

  • Dagger

    Here’s a thought-provoking article about the whole thing: http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/57269/where-did-all-the-20-10-players-go

    Yeah, it’s weird. One thing’s for sure: there are many different influences, and given the way the league is going I’d expect the trend to continue.

  • Caboose

    Thats fair, but also not grounds for instituting a rule change.

  • Caboose

    I expect KLove at least to do it next year. Cousins has an outside chance. But honestly, I doubt Dwight, Blake, Marc, Aldridge, Brook, Zach, etc to do it. Which is nuts.

  • The Seed

    Refs missed alot of calls that favored the Heat, go look at fouls that were called. Heat are going to win this series, especially if Refs are going not call anything against the Heat. Bron flopped and Shane flopps, they better get fined.

  • Max

    The Heat are gonna win no matter what seed.

  • Mariano

    Tim Duncan didn’t play Center. Started alongside Tiago Splitter who was actually listed as the center

  • http://twitter.com/trueballer4lif1 Melvin flynt

    Latter healthly my a hole stop your bs talk miamis gonna best down those bulls!

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    I actually do enjoy watching it happen, no joke. Lol.

  • BurgerKing

    Bulls win, they bust the Heat
    Heat win, the refs cheated

  • Max

    Teddy-the-confession-bear

  • Max

    You said it yourself, Tiago was listed as center, Timmy played center.
    He guarded the centers.

  • Drig

    I did say IF the L was COMMITTED to putting the BEST product on the floor at all times.

    We all know it’s never gonna happen anyways.

  • pposse

    yeah cause Jimmie Butler played for the Bulls in that 2011 playoff series right. The guy who probably had the most success for quarters at a time (still can’t stop bron for the whole game) defending Lebron in the playoffs in the past 3 yrs; the guy who plays 48 freakin minutes a game on the ‘best’ basketball player while still getting near 20ppg in the series. None of you guys watch the Chicago Bulls; yall turn the tv on during the playoffs and act like you seen this team before. Noah, Gibson all those guys got better as they are entering their prime years now.

  • pposse

    Mohammad exposed Lebron for what he really is when it comes to being tough. Dude talks a big one, but he’s such an actor. Its funny how at halftime they interview Lebron and he’s talking about how this is not a fight this is a basketball game, fine, point taken, but when did flopping become a part of basketball? Dude is such a hypocrite.

  • pposse

    when the hell is flopping “actual basketball”? He lost his cool and pushed Lebron that’s it, don’t try to stick in “ejected” in there cause of the push; he got ejected cause of the guy he pushed and the acting job he pulled off. Lebron flopped plain and simple; but thats okay with you, because thats “actual basketball” in your opinion, thats the type of stuff that continues to get rewarded in the league, thats the type of character you all see as formidable traits in an elite ball player, the guy who has potential to be the greatest. LOL you squire Dagger are a moron.

  • http://twitter.com/1993Freckles Conor O’Hara

    I’m sorry, man, but it honestly disturbs me that someone could possibly have difficulty understanding “Ever heard of something known as “sensationalism”, nitwit? // Based on the fact that they’ve matched Miami step for step until exhaustion has settled in every game this series, using seven players at most. We exist in 2013, not 2011.”

    I understand that the common SLAM contributor doesn’t immerse themselves with Cormac McCarthy & Tolkien like I do, but what I just wrote was not some rabid prose. It was a simple sentence which I apologize for perhaps confusing you with.

    Or, maybe you do understand it, but since my theory of the Bulls’ potential doesn’t align with your equally-hypothetical assertion that the Heat would defeat them using 2011′s series trajectory & that the bolstering aspects of two significant additions to their present confluence are outweighed by what would be a completely – thanks to Thibodeau’s coaching abilities – uncharacteristic disarray is ridiculous. Chicago is giving Miami all it can handle playing 4/5 starters over 40mpg this series, but you think that having Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich back to provide points, additional defensive prowess, inveterate disposition, & – most importantly – minute relief (extending the rotation to eight players) would worsen the team’s chances? Okay.

    If Deng is back, the Bulls would then have two players to guard James effectively at any given time and a perimeter release valve, offensively.

    If Hinrich is back, they have a good playmaker & a defensive point guard who would focus on Wade, Allen, and the rabbit himself: Norris Cole. But they would be worse as a team, according to you.

    “Which, based on your other posts on this website, might take a while.”

    Do you actually take time out of your day to catalog my comments? smh

    Sorry for not taking ESPN as gospel and being realistic about the Heat’s fortune playing in the East/against hewed competition.

  • https://twitter.com/jasontichenor Mr. Wet

    If everyone is healthy, Nate Robinson is the the third string PG getting 10-13 mins a game and probably trying to make a roster next year. Hell if everyone is healthy he probably would have been shipped off at the trade deadline and Bellininni might not see the floor at all in the series. You can’t just make blanket what if statements, it’s incredibly fun to think about but you just don’t know how many ricochet changes would happen.

    Let’s just say there is a reason they play the game.

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