EC Finals, Game 2: Heat 85 – Bulls 75 (1-1)

•  This game was decided by Erik Spoelstra as he displayed a commitment to his gameplan, to use a speed/small lineup versus the Bulls.  This was something that was seen and mocked up earlier this year as the Bulls lost to the Sixers late in the season (the key game of this season, for this series in my opinion).  The Heat implemented the plan and improved upon it with talent and their defense which cannot be matched down the stretch in these playoffs.  As Steve Kerr repeated for the 14th time that the Heat was “in trouble”, Spo stayed the course.  Many in the media, including the usual suspects such as Tim Legler, Mike Wilbon, Charles Barkley and Jon Barry, thought it was ridiculous to use a small lineup versus these Bulls.  Well, they were wrong.  Again.

LeBron James by bridgetds

Photo by bridgetds

•  For that closing punch, the Heat has used several lopsided runs to close games in these playoffs, namely versus the Celtics. And this time they used a 12-2 run to close out the Bulls in this game.  On their home court.  On the home court that boasted the best home record in the NBA.  On a night where the calls were not coming “correctly”.  A good win.  Miami boasts a very good basketball team, with a lot of talent, heart and coaching.  They envy nothing from anybody.  The effort versus the NBA’s “MVP” was stellar.  Derrick Rose was “confused” with what the Heat was doing, and that is being generous.

•  LeBron James was spectacular yet again, with a closing effort that can only mock those that continue with the ridiculous narrative that James can’t close.  The man is simply one of the best players in the NBA, and one of the best players in the history of the game.  As a mid-range shooter, James is only rivaled by Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics.  His game is beyond reproach at his point.  He is growing and building his legend with every game.  The best player in the NBA is just doing what he is supposed to do.  It is the standard that HE has set.

•  Dwyane Wade was the player every Heat fan knows he is.  A player that will NEVER let you down. A player that will give you everything on every possession. A player that can be counted on in a pinch.  A first ballot Hall of Famer and a local legend only rivaled by Dan Marino and Don Shula in South Florida.  He is a jewel of a player that should be appreciated as a Miami Treasure held in as much esteem as any of the past legends from the “305″.  How did you like my Bill Walton impression?

•  What can be said for the Heat defense?  It is stifling, and makes a fool yet again of the very poor analysis of the ESPN analyst’s and pundits.  There was talk of the Bulls team defense being “legendary” by the estimation of very intelligent and pensive pundits such as Charles Barkley.  Yes, I am spreading the sarcasm VERY thick.  The Miami Heat has a plan that they implement with confidence and what seems to be a understanding of what their opponents try to do on a game-to-game basis.  The Heat coaching staff is second to none.  Their defense has been stellar down the stretch in these playoffs.

•  Udonis Haslem.  What can be said?  The man was clearly headed for a long layoff and rehab that would surely keep him out of the rest of this season.  NO.  Udonis worked his way back faster than Ronnie Brown (Miami Dolphins running back) did for a similar injury.  He has worked hard to gain his coaches’ confidence to use him for heavy minutes in an important Eastern Conference Finals game.  UD was spectacular.  He hit his shots, did not miss a beat in his defensive rotations and completely put a stop to any attempts at continued offensive board dominance by the Chicago Bulls.  It was more than obvious.  Udonis Haslem is the heart and soul, and now he is a real contributor.  The Heat is improving.  Let that sink in for a little while.

•  As an amateur know-it-all wannabee coach, I thought it was  a terrible decision to not activate Dampier or Ilgauskas for this Game 2 tilt.  I thought it was a bit generous and charitable to just “trust”" Coach Spo for his decision.  He was right.  He stuck with his gameplan and stayed with his small lineup, integrated UD into it to complete the closing unit he wanted to use since October.  Coach Spo deserves alot of credit and his adjustments were inspired to say the least.  Now, the Coach of the Year will begin to feel some pressure as the Bulls face what will be a blood thirsty crowd in Miami for Game 3.  Coach Spo’s gameplan to deny Derrick Rose his driving opportunities was brilliant. And his use of Mike Bibby in the grand scheme was genius.  Bibby’s contribution was huge. Let this next sentence sink in.  Mike Bibby was a lockdown defender on this night.

•  The Miami Heat will have a golden opportunity to remind the Bulls of the stakes at play in these next two games, at home.  The Heat is suffocating teams down the stretch and showing a penchant for closing games in spectacular fashion down the stretch versus the NBA’s very best.  This is more than a trend, this is a team that is finding it’s identity and relishing in it.  Something special is happening here.  Enjoy it Heat fans.

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UptownReport RT @MiamiHated: #MiamiHeat @UptownReport Heat suffocate Bulls, pull away late to even series 1-1. http://htfk.us/x4p
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MiamiHated #MiamiHeat @UptownReport Heat suffocate Bulls, pull away late to even series 1-1. http://htfk.us/x4p
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