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Miami Heat ..Step up Ya Grind

 Bulls vs Heat Outside of the two “Taj Mahal Dunks” by Mr. Gibson, what was stark in yesterday’s opening serve of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals was the number of second chance opportunities compiled by the Chicago Bulls against the Miami Heat. I lost count last night…but the official number was around 31. Second chance opportunities are an indication of effort, desire, hustle, tenacity etc.….however you choose to frame it….the Bulls had it working last night. But for the sake of discourse, let’s call it “more heart.”  

Heart is not measured by stats, scoring titles or number of Twitter followers. It’s measured in floor burns, head first dives into “Movie Stars” seated courtside, boxing out, and possessions extended by keeping the ball in play. This type of effort reminds me of a prizefighter, who eventually “out-grinds” his opponent.   Last night, the Bulls—simply put, exerted their collective will and wore down the “Heat” for 11 rounds, and finished them off in the 12th with a flurry of roundhouse “Treys” and one mighty thunderous uppercut of a dunk—serving as a symbolic exclamation point for game one.  

The NBA game is similar to watching the weather change from fall through spring. And much like seasonal passages, the tempo of the game segues from a “Checkers Invitational” to a methodical “Chess Tournament.” Please trust and believe me….it’s evitable.   Moreover, this is when NBA coaches earn their paychecks. Moves are made and countered to gain advantages or to compensate for weaknesses on both sides of the ball. The Coach that counters and adapt in a seamless fashion during the game-- are often victorious. Last night, Bulls Coach, Tom Thiboduea’s coaching maneuvers thoroughly supports my hypothesis. As a matter of fact…it was if he anticipated every defensive strategy employed by Miami Heat Coach Eric Spolestra.  I can’t help but hear Tom Thiboduea, who just happens to be the NBA Coach of the year, exclaim, in his “Training Day” Denzel Washington voice---“Son the game is Chess…not Checkers.”

Before last night’s tilt, many soothsayers like me felt the Heat would try and take the ball out of Derrick Rose’s hands by flashing two defenders out on the perimeter. Although this tactic generated the outcome the Heat projected, it never created the chaos or disruption to the Bulls offensive sets. As a matter of fact, the Bulls were spaced out on the perimeter and ready to lock…load… and… shoot uncontested “3’s” throughout the evening.  Led by Derrick Rose (who by the way looked Jordanesque in the 4th quarter) and Luol Deng, the Bulls scored 30pts from beyond the arc, while shooting close to 50%. That’s big time.

Game three is Wednesday night. The Heat will need to make some defensive adjustments if they want to make this a series. It’s funny how playoff teams some 14 years ago were facing this very same dilemma against the Bulls….led by that dude named Michael.


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