Sure, the Miami Heat throttled the Chicago Bulls by 37 points on Wednesday night to even the semifinals at 1-1, and that’s great and I’m sure somewhere else on the Internet someone is discussing just what it all means (it just means that the Heat and Bulls are tied at 1-1, and also that when the Heat get into an offensive groove they are essentially unstoppable, and oh also based on all of the technicals and the ejections the rest of this series will probably be nothing but calm and placid basketball with lots of friendly repartee between the teams). Me, I’ll just be over here staring at this picture taken when Joakim Noah was ejected, trying to figure out the secrets of the universe. [UPDATE: Good lord, her real identity is somehow crazier than anything I imagined.]
HEAT 123, SUNS 96 (Miami: 7-4)
I know, I missed a game back there. This journal-of-the-whole-season thing can be wearying, if only because weekend games come and go and if I don’t watch them I feel ill-equipped to report on just the box score, y’know? They beat the Raptors 109-100, Bosh had just 12 points against his whole team, the end.
Meanwhile, Phoenix. This is not a great team, mind you. They’re not going to win the title this year. They’re not in that elite subcategory of NBA teams with legitimate aspirations of playing in June (Lakers, Celtics, Magic, Heat, Thunder, Spurs, maybe Bulls). But they came into Miami with the same record as the Heat (6-4). They came to Florida riding a three-game winning streak that featured a victory over the Lakers. They’re not a bad team. They’re not even an average team. They are an upper-half-of-the-league, just-good-enough-to-probably-make-the-playoffs, won’t-go-far-but-won’t-be-swept kinda team. (And they have eminently Phoenix-like statistics: Third in the league in PPG, fourth from the bottom in opponent PGG.)
So a throttling like this has to do something good for Miami’s psyche. The game was tight for the first 14 minutes or so, but the Heat just swatted them around in that second quarter. Credit where it is due: Bosh finally, FINALLY, played like an All Star. He had 35 points in just 30 minutes, 22 points in the first half alone and went 11-for-11 from the line. LeBron had 20 points and nine dimes in just 23 minutes of play, while Wade chipped in 17 points as well.
Things that are good: The balance of the Heat’s big trio. Eddie House coming off the bench to score 15. The team, mostly Bosh, putting up 46 points in the paint (admittedly, against a team without an interior presence). Netting 22 of 25 free throws (half of those go to Bosh, but that’s still great). And after getting scorched by every elite point guard to this point, they kept Nash (who is nursing an injury and played just 29 minutes) to 17 points and a mere two assists. Things that are not good: If you want to be technical, this game didn’t really show that the Heat can beat an elite team with an elite interior presence.
SPURS 103, BULLS 94: This very, very, very unlikely (but not impossible) Finals preview reminded us of something: Those Spurs are goddamn indefatigable. They just WILL NOT GO AWAY, and have improved to 9-1 this season. Despite the announcement of his divorce earlier in the day, Tony Parker had 21 points and seven assists. The only worry was the 13 turnovers, which you figure Pop has to hate. Derrick Rose had 33 points, but needed 27 shots to make it happen, and the Bulls are a decent 6-4. Until they have Boozer on the court, they’re going to remain a decent team, and we won’t know who they really are. But the Spurs are who they’ve always been: that nagging, persistent presence that lurks behind you every season, waiting to quietly steal away the thunder from the more highly-touted teams and remind you that, yes, Duncan’s old, but they could very well win the West if the chips fall their way. Don’t look now, but the two best records in the league belong to the same division: The Spurs and Hornets each are 9-1, tied for best in the game.