Got to Miami early this morning, and even managed to squeeze in a power nap pre-game despite the 6:30 start time. Outside the Arena tonight, people were starting to get fired up by 4:30 when I arrived. I saw a lot of people selling Heat t-shirts. Only prob is the bootleggers were selling white shirts, which I guess could be a problem when the Heat have made such a huge effort to get everyone to wear black to the game.
• Pregame in the Hawks locker room, and news was just breaking that Marvin Williams would miss the game this evening with a sprained right (shooting) wrist. He apparently hurt it in Game 2 at the end of the third quarter when he got decked, which is why he missed the fourth quarter. I remember the play pretty clearly, mostly because I was worried that Marv would hurt his back on the fall. He didn’t but apparently he banged up his wrist.
Marv is a great dude. but unless my wrist had a compound fracture, you better believe I’d be out there playing tonight. Especially if I was about to be a restricted free agent.
• For the most part, the Hawks were pretty loose pre-game. Flip Murray wrote up a sign that said, “IT’S ON!!!” and signed it “J. Magliore” and taped it up on Josh Smith’s locker while Josh was back in the coach’s office. Josh came back and I tried to convince him that Magliore had been in and posted it himself, but Josh immediately said, “Man, that dude Flip Murray did this.” Josh tore it in half and tossed it aside.
The rest of the time the guys broke down plays on video with Larry Drew (who had headphones dangling around his neck blasting “Let’s go Crazy”) or watching the NFL Draft and laughing at the various suits and jewelry combinations the rooks broke out.
• National anthem tonight is performed by someone named Nehemie. Oh, gesuntheit!
• Crowd gets pretty worked up during the intros. I’m pretty sure that’s the loudest cheer James Jones has ever gotten in his career.
• Heat started James Jones again. Mo Evans picked up an early (and obvious) offensive foul. D-Wade blocked an Evans layup attempt with two hands. Mike Woodson wouldn’t double D-Wade if he was getting a bonus to do it, but the did throw out a nominal wrinkle by having Mo Evans guard Wade. As I typed that Wade drilled a long jumper over an Evans single-team. The Heat jumped out to an 8-4 lead, all four ATL points coming from Mike Bibby. Hawks were getting one shot and done, Heat looked energized. Wade cut through the lane for a tomahawk dunk to put Miami up 15-4. Time out, ATL.
• During the timeout, someone accidentally plays “The Heat Is On,” which is about 25 years old. The Heat let it play, though.
• Out of the timeout, Mike Woodson draws up a play where Joe Johnson gets blocked by D-Wade. Mario Chalmers hits a 3. Josh Smith misses a three. Hawks come back and Joe Johnson misses a three. The entire Heat bench is up and cheering. The Hawks look like they’re still watching the Draft. Have I mentioned the Hawks have lost 11 straight road playoff games?
• Khalid texts me and says “Woody needs to open up the playbook.” I write back, “This is the playbook!” We’ve just got guys going one-on-one over and over. FTL!
• I find myself excited when the Hawks cut it to 18-6 with 2:37 to go in the first. The Heat have 5 blocks to Atlanta’s 1. So they’re on pace for 24 blocked shots.
• I’m sitting about halfway up the stands, just in front of a luxury box where someone behind me keeps cheering, “Let’s go Hawks!” I swear that’s not me. By the way, I’m not going to tell you who I’m sitting next to tonight, HOWEVA!, you all know who it is.
• Offensive foul on Jamario Moon out of a timeout. Flip Murray cuts it to 18-8, and Joe Johnson rips D-Wade in the open court. Flip hits again to make it 18-10. The teams trade baskets, then Mike Bibby attempts an alley-oop to Zaza that results in not only a missed shot but Zaza tumbling into the photographers. First quarter ends with jamario Moon hitting an 18-footer.
• So, after 1, the Heat lead 22-12. I didn’t think it was possible for Miami to continue playing as well as they gig in Game Two, but they picked right up where they left off. Haslem had 9 boards in the first. Miami shot 47 percent. Atlanta’s starting frontcourt combined for 0 points. One good thing is…
• Sorry, Heat Dancers were in the house. Got distracted.
ª Second quarter. Beasley opens it with an airball. Zaza tries to dunk on Jamal Magliore and draws a foul. First free throws of the game for ATL. Zaza makes both. Wawaweewa! Very nice!
• Beasley misses a three at the shot clock buzzer. Joe Johnson drives for a deuce. 22-16, MIA. Magliore picks up his second on an over the back call. Spoelstra leaves him in and brings in James Jones for Jamario Moon. Flip Murray nails a three. Seven points for Flip. Lots of grumbling in the arena as the Hawks cut it to 22-19. Timeout, Miami. I’m guessing Dwyane Wade might come back in to the game.
• The Heat PR staff passes out a shot chart in between quarters, which is a first, I think, from a PR staff. Kinda cool to see exactly where the Hawks missed all their shots.
• In between quarters they advertise a contest for Heat fans to win dinner with a Heat player at Benihana. How much you want to bet the Heat player you win dinner with is Chris Quinn?
• JO and Wade return for Miami, and Zaza celebrates by blocking a shot from Cook. Al Horford finally arrives and hits a 2 to make it 22-21. James Jones hits a three. Horford hits again from the same spot. Wade hits two FTs.
• Someone should tell the Heat PA announcer that it’s Za Za Pachulia, not Zha Zha. J-Smoove returns and misses a lay-in, and Flip Murray airballs a jumper from the wing. JO rebounds his own brick and gets a dunk to make it 31-23, Miami. Timeout, Hawks.
• The heat bring out a bunch of senior citizens in Jabbawockeez outfits for a dance routine. I kinda hope the Jabbawockeez sue.
• Josh Smith gets elbowed in the throat and is called for a foul. Jermaine O’Neal spins and hits a baseline jumper. Joe Johnson hits a runner in the paint and a lay-up. 33-27. The refs had been letting everyone play (2FTs in the first , but suddenly they’re calling everything.
ª James Jones misses a three that bounces on top of the backboard and then bounces back in. Hey, when things are going your way, they’re going your way. 40-29, Miami, with 2:48 to go in the half. Miami is still white hot (eboy), but the Hawks have fought back into this one and made it close. Wade has 11, Haslem still has 9 boards. Joe Johnson has 8 points and Horford and Zaza have 5 boards apiece.
• Zaza misses two free throws out of the TO. Wade hits a jumper off a curl. Flip Murray decides to go one-on-one against Wade and ends up shooting an airball. JO hits a jumper over Zaza. Miami is shooting 46 percent. Bibby misses a two, Zaza gets the board and throws it out to Joe, who misses a three. Ugh.
• With 53 seconds left, Wade gets loose down the lane and tomahawks on Horford, who made an admirable attempt to decapitate him. The fans chant “MVP! MVP!” Wait, LeBron’s here?
• And of course, the Heat end the half with another improbable jumper to go ahead 50-29 at the half. That’s a 12-0 run to close out the quarter. Wade has 19, JO has 10, James Jones has 6 and Chalmers has 7 and the Heat are shooting 50 percent on threes. Other than Joe Johnson leading the Hawks with 8 points, things are going pretty well for Atlanta. Josh Smith has 0 points and 0 rebounds.
• Miami’s a pretty happening city, so why can’t Erik Spoelstra get his hair parted down one side or the other instead of straight down the middle like he’s 9 years old?
• Speaking of Spoelstra, he hasn’t made a wrong move in the last two games. And let me go out on a limb here: If the Heat continue shooting 50-percent from three for the rest of the Playoffs, they’re going to the Finals. Heck, I’d rather come down here than Cleveland or Boston.
• JO starts the second half with a bucket, making it 14 consecutive points by Miami. Atlanta answers but JO scores again. Josh gets his first rebound. The crowd gets involved when “Shake That Laffy Taffy” is played. Wade hits about three jumpers in a row but Woody has no interest in double-teaming him. I’m about to throw my laptop on the court to help double Wade. It might do a better job on him than some of the Hawks’ defenders. Joe drives and scores to cut it to 21 with 5:37 to go. Time out Hawks. Wade has 27. The Hawks have 45. Miami’s shooting 7 for 10 this quarter. Seriously, what’s going on here? I’m starting to believe Sam’s theory about the black lines in the ball being magnets that can be controlled by the League office.
• Heat finally miss out of the timeout and Josh Smith drives and gets fouled. And 1. Of course, he misses the free throw. Hawks cut it under 20, though, 66-47. The Hawks are still playing hard, God bless ’em. Bibby misses but Horford gets the rebound. 4:11 to go and Miami up 66-49. Mo Evans nails a three. 66-52, MIA. Wade misses a layup. Joe Johnson has a three to make it an 11-point game but he misses.
• JO makes two free throws to get Miami on the board. Jermaine O’Neal blocks Horford on a runner, then flops on the other end and draws a foul on Horford.
• What happened to that Hawks team from Game 1? The team that was running and jumping and dunking and blocking shots? I understand it’s tough to be dominant when the team you’re playing against, Miami, can’t miss a shot to save their lives, but the Hawks aren’t putting any pressure on Miami’s defense.
• A Horford dunk and Bibby 3 cuts it to 72-61, before the Heat, of course, get a long fadeaway three from James Jones to end the quarter and make it a 14 point lead after three, 75-81. Still, nice quarter from the Hawks, who scored 32 in the quarter.
• The Hawks begin the fourth with Mike Bibby airballing a 3. Then Mario Chalmers drains a 3. There’s your game in a nutshell.
• D-Wade misses a wild lay-up, then Chalmers misses a 3, then Wade misses a tip-in, then Chalmers gets the next tip. Miami is outworking Atlanta.
• Cook drains a 3, pushing the lead to 83-62 with 9:37 to go in the game. The Miami crowd returns and starts singing and dancing along to “Whoomp There It Is.” Hit me.
• Hawks come out of the timeout and Joe misses a running two. Dwyane Wade takes the crab dribble to new levels — a lobster roll? — and scores. Wade drives and dishes to Chalmers, who drills another three. Also, the Heat are 11-11 on free throws tonight.
• Haslem scores from the baseline on a jumper. I wish Henry Abbott would show up here to lecture the Heat about how the hot hand doesn’t exist. And then Daequan Cook drains a three. Time out, ATL. Miami’s up 95-68, 5:08 to go, and the fans are streaming toward the exits.
• And I’m out, too. Miami wins 107-78. There’s an obscene box score from the game here. The Heat shot 50 percent on threes in the first half, finishing 19-19 from the line in Game 3 and 27-46 from three point land in Games 2 and 3 combined. If the Heat play this well in Game 4, I’m voting the entire team into the Basketball Hall of Fame immediately. As for the Hawks, if they can win Game 4, it’s suddenly a best two-out-of-three series and the Hawks have regained homecourt. So Monday night is going to be a big one.