Tell me you don’t think the Eastern Conference Finals are going to be fun… that felt like a rivalry game.
The Miami Heat’s 83-72 win over the Chicago Bulls is not an indication of how a playoff series between these teams plays out — not with Bulls MVP Derrick Rose and the Heat’s Chris Bosh in street clothes. Besides, by the time we get a month into the playoffs these teams will have evolved and be different.
But the Heat did send a message — not to the Bulls, but to themselves. One week ago the Bulls beat the Heat with ferocity and execution Miami could not match. Derrick Rose sat out the overtime and the Bulls outscored the Heat 8-2. This week the Heat matched that intensity and showed some execution of their own. The message was clear — we’re here and we’re not backing down
We did get a glimpse of what is to come in the playoffs… and these teams don’t like each other. It was intense, it was chippy, it felt like a playoff game. Dwyane Wade picked up a flagrant foul for throwing Rip Hamilton around like a rag doll. Hamilton spent all game trying to get under Wade’s skin. When those two line up against each other night after night for seven games it is going to be bloody good entertainment. Maybe literally.
The Heat came out and matched the physicality of the Bulls. They pushed back. At times a little too hard, like when James Jones cross-checked Joakim Noah and was ejected.
In the end the Heat won because LeBron James is playing very well right now — 27 points on 18 shots, plus 11 boards. They won because Udonis Haslem was attacking the rim and Mario Chalmers was in the middle of everything — they need their role players to step up. They won because Wade won the battle with Rip for a night.
Oh, the Eastern Conference finals are going to be fun. This intensity was only the tip of the iceberg.
We reached the middle of the NBA season, which is a good time to consider where things stand for the end-of-season awards such as MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Coach of the Year. We have made our picks and even broken them down in a podcast.
Now it was time to ask you who you thought should win awards.
I put it out there on Twitter in some polls, and I cover your responses in this PBT Extra. I’m with you on Brad Stevens for Coach of the Year, although I think it’s close. Did you choose LeBron James or James Harden for MVP? Watch and find out.
Jason Smith pushed down Michael Carter-Williams while going for a rebound. Carter-Williams pulled Smith to the floor. Tim Frazier flew in heated.
It was more than a typical NBA altercation – Carter-Williams clenched his fist, though never swung – but it wasn’t quite a fight. It was just reserves getting feisty late in a blowout, the Hornets’ 133-109 win over the Wizards on Wednesday. Carter-Williams and Frazier were given double technical fouls and ejected.
One catch: Smith was called for personally fouling Carter-Williams, who was due free throws. With Carter-Williams unavailable, Washington could pick his replacement at the line.
Wizards coach Scott Brooks chose Dwight Howard, a poor free-throw shooter who’d been resting the entire fourth quarter and surely figured his night was over. Maybe it was only about Howard’s team-worst 53% shooting from the line, but it’s also possible Brooks was trying to make an opponent uncomfortable.
The Charlotte crowd went wild, and Howard only added to the fervor.
He sunk both free throws – padding his stats (18 points, 15 rebounds, two blocks and two steals) – and blew Brooks a kiss. Howard might appreciate the extra points Brooks afforded him, but they’ll likely come at a cost. Howard celebrated with the Sam Cassell/big-balls dance, which usually draws a fine from the NBA.
Just when it seemed as if the Pelicans were rolling… they lose to the lowly Hawks.
This was the second game of a back-to-back after beating the Celtics in overtime, and New Orleans looked the part, blowing a 15-point lead in the final 19 minutes.
Kent Bazemore‘s jumper with 2.1 seconds left stood as the game-winner when DeMarcus Cousins missed a rushed post-up on the other end.
Paul Pierce is being petty about Isaiah Thomas‘ tribute video.
And that’s from someone who empathizes with Pierce’s point of view.
When retiring a player’s number, teams tastefully use stoppages to show highlights and tributes to the player. The whole night, not just the moment of raising a number into the rafters, can be about celebrating the player. It’s reasonable for Pierce to want the entire package.
But to go on television and advocate for not showing Thomas’ video? To continue the campaign after Thomas made clear how important his video was to him? To tell the Celtics not to show a short video for Thomas during introductions?
It’s way too far.
Too many people around Pierce enabled his flawed approach. Jalen Rose put that to a pointed stop.
Rose on ESPN:
I’ve got say a word for you, fam. I think it was petty.
On Paul Pierce’s part.
I love Paul. This is my brother. Because to me, there are going to be all type of announcements that happen in the 48 minutes during that game. All types. Including Isaiah Thomas could be one of them. It does not take away from your situation. Like Kobe’s, it happened during the game. Because they’re doing yours post-game.
The look on Pierce’s face while Rose was talking!