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.
The New York Knicks couldn’t get out of their own way on Thursday night, even with a historic performance from Carmelo Anthony. With the Washington Wizards in town, it was John Wall‘s finishing ability that pushed the Wiz over New York, 113-110.
The final 45 seconds were hectic, as Wall took the lead for Washington with just 32 seconds left after drawing a foul on Carmelo.
Down by 1, Anthony then missed a jumper with 18 seconds left and the Knicks allowed Wall to do this:
Wall would go on to steal the final possession from the Knicks, and the Wizards left MSG with a win.
Gregg Popovich can be a fiesty dude, and sometimes he just wants to get his team pumped up. After news that Pau Gasol was going to be absent from the San Antonio Spurs’ lineup against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, perhaps this was his way of doing that?
Late in the second quarter in Denver, Popovich was seen arguing with a baseline official as play continued on. Pop was hit with an initial tech, and as the officiating crew walked away he blasted ’em with the best dad insult I’ve heard in a long time.
“You’re a terrible referee!”
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Mudiay was more than happy to assist with the second technical and ejection portion of Popovich’s tirade.
Long Live Pop.
Kristaps Porzingis is “The Unicorn” perhaps in part because of his high basketball awareness on the offensive end of the floor. On Thursday night against the Washington Wizards, the New York Knicks big man had an incredible putback dunk that surprised even his teammates.
Thanks to a missed Courtney Lee 3-pointer, Porzingis was able to fly in from beyond the arc to slam home two points.
Yeah, that’s crazy.
There’s putback dunks and then there’s flying in from beyond the 3-point line like this one. Wild.
The San Antonio Spurs will have to make do without PF/C for a while Pau Gasol thanks to a recent fracture in his left ring finger.
That’s according to a press release from the team, who said Gasol fractured his fourth metacarpal — the bone that connects the ring finger down to the carpal bones in the wrist area — during warmups before a game against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.
No word yet from the team on recovery time, but estimates given similar recent NBA player injuries suggest anywhere from 4-8 weeks.
Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward missed the first month of the season after fracturing his finger in early October. Cleveland Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving missed around a month in 2012 with a similar injury.
Here’s hoping Gasol can make it back to the court quickly for the Spurs.