Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Scoop: Bulls send message to Miami
By Scoop Jackson
LeBron James is not going to have another sub-par game, so the Bulls need to be ready.
I got a text from a friend of mine from New York after the Bulls Game 1 win over the Miami Heat. Her question, simple: What do you think about that win?
I tried my best to explain: It's been a long, long time since I can remember two games by one team actually meaning so much. The last time I really remember feeling like this was after the Red Sox won Games 4 and 5 against the Yankees after being down 0-3 in 2004. And I'm not even sure that felt like this. This team is amazing. Don't get me wrong it's not like they are going to win it all or this series, but for these last two games ... Amazing!
Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, the reality is this ain't the Nets. The Heat won't lie down, they will fight back, beginning the moment the refs toss the ball in the air Wednesday night. From the tip, we are going to see what the defending champs are made of, the same way these last two games have shown us what these Bulls are really made of.
Just as much as Game 1 was a wake-up call, Game 2 will be a reality check. The recipe the Bulls used to pull off Monday night's "miracle:" Keeping the Heat out of transition, keeping them off the glass, keeping them from getting settled in their offensive sets, keeping them from extending leads will be challenged and put to the test in Game 2. LeBron won't have another two-point half, the Heat won't shoot under 40 percent.
Plus, historically "MVP" games have always been tough for the host team to win. So ...
Game 2 will literally be a Heat check.
Because Miami knows now that the Bulls are for real. They know that victory the Bulls pulled out to end their historic streak in March was no fluke, they know the fact that the Bulls are the only team with a winning record against them since the "Big Three" era is not a fluke, they know Tom Thibodeau is a problem they can't solve, they know this isn't the 2011 playoffs.
All that said, the Heat aren't going to panic. The one thing they can fall back on is the fact that last year in every playoff series -- with the exception of the first round -- they were down a game. Down 2-1 on the road to the Pacers in the conference semis, down 3-2 on the road to the Celtics in the conference finals, down 0-1 to the Thunder in the Finals. And although this territory is a little different for them (this team has never lost an opening game at home in a playoff series), team president Pat Riley will be the first to remind them how last year's playoffs were no different and all that matters is the outcome.
Chris Bosh said that the Heat needed this. That this loss was somewhat necessary because things had been getting "too pretty" in Miami-land. Heat coach Eric Spoelstra doesn't necessarily agree, claiming "It's all conjecture really at this point."
Truth is if the Heat don't find a way to match the Bulls' energy level and nothing-to-lose attitude and approach to these games ("Joakim For Mayor" t-shirts are being printed as we speak!), the hole they dig may be deeper than one they can rescue themselves from.
Because just like they say in this game that you can't teach height, well, you also can't teach heart, intensity, tenacity, ferocity, fortitude, max effort, desire and will.
But you can instill them.
And the main question moving forward is simple: Can the Miami Heat find someone to instill those intangibles into their starting five the way Thibs has instilled it into every single player who made the Bulls playoff roster?
Because if these last two games the Bulls have played are any indication of what they are truly capable of doing in the long run, Miami -- and a few other NBA teams still playing -- need to seriously begin to be worried.
Or as Scottie Pippen tweeted about the Bulls after the win: "Can't ever doubt these dudes."