A few days after supposedly hitting rock bottom in a Game 2 that featured poor late-game execution by Dwyane Wade and LeBron James and an overall inability to put the ball in the basket from everyone outside of James, Game 3 was a return to the team basketball that enabled Miami to become the reigning NBA champions.
As expected, it was terrifying if you were the opponent. Miami’s 114-96 victory featured a number of statistical oddities and anomalies, courtesy of every last member of the Heat, as they made arguably the league’s top defense as vulnerable as they had appeared this season.
What a familiar position for LeBron James to be in.
A seemingly immaculate statline in the form of 36 points (14-of-20 overall, 3-of-7 from deep), 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals, moot and thrown out because of two turnovers in the final minute on crucial possessions that could have had the Miami Heat up 2-0 in the series, rather than it 1-1 with two games awaiting in Indiana.
LeBron was the only reason why Miami even stood a chance against the Pacers in their 97-93 loss. For a second consecutive game, it was LeBron doing everything he could on both ends of the floor, facilitating the offense and defending the likes of Paul George and the larger David West on the other end.
For those who remained at the American Airlines Arena long enough before hitting up the lively Monday night scene, they were given the Heat’s most dramatic showing yet in the ‘Big Three’ era. Dragged to the ninth level of Hell before reaching the right-hand of Zeus’s throne, Miami did everything in their power to keep their Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers interesting.
And just when we thought the Pacers were going to steal it away, LeBron James made the narrative turn one last time. This time coming in a fashion that would leave the crowd perspiring with a combination of tears, sweat and overwhelming joy that’s going to take days to wash off.
Since the summer of 2010, the Miami Heat have been a franchise built on sacrifice.
From the wallet of Mickey Arison down to the extra hours put in by coach Erik Spoelstra and the coaching staff, each and every member of the organization has made some sort of sacrifice in their lives for the ultimate goal of winning an NBA championship.
And people thought this would be easy? It’s been nothing but difficulties and obstacles impeding the Heat’s trio of championship runs over the past three years. Whether they’re dealing with injuries to their top two bench contributors, as seen in 2011, or playing without arguably their most important player, as seen in 2012, the Heat have been making constant sacrifices adjustments since the ‘Big Three’ was formed.
Leave it to the Miami Heat’s smallest guy to ignite the crowd into blowing the lid off the American Airlines Arena.
With Mario Chalmers struggling against Nate Robinson and with his shot, backup point guard Norris Cole has answered the call in a big way, especially against this Chicago Bulls team.
In 114 minutes of playing time, only ten less than Chalmers, Cole averaged 11 points on 69 percent shooting and made 9 of his 11 three-point attempts, while also keeping Robinson in check on defense.
Cole started off the series making his first eight three-pointers, including going 7-for-7 in between Games 2 and 3. He also set his postseason record for points with 18 in those games, combining to shoot 13-of-16.
However, his defining moment of the series may have come late in the fourth quarter of Miami’s 94-91 Game 5 series-clincher.
With his team down one in a back-and-forth affair and the Bulls doing everything in their power to keep LeBron James away from the rim, Cole took it as his personal green light and drove down the lane in a one-point game with less than six minutes remaining.
Cole avoids Carlos Boozer and then goes lefty as 7′ Joakim Noah comes in and attempts the block. But the 6’1″ Cole has already left his mark on the rim with the unexpected slam.
He only had five points on 2-of-5 shooting, but all five points and both makes came in the fourth quarter. He made his previous shot, a jumper, on the previous possession.
With George Hill and D.J. Augustin waiting around the bend, there should be no doubt that we’ll be enjoying some more Norris Cole over the next few weeks.
If Dwyane Wade’s Game 4 performance against the Chicago Bulls didn’t sadden you, then you haven’t been a fan of the Miami Heat for too long.
We have come to live with Wade usually being a sufferer of various ailments and injuries. They have have always been a part of him throughout his career, being the greatest representative of Wade’s ability to get to the rim and put his body on the line for the chance to score two points.
This year has been tougher than most, for Wade and the avid fans that will never give up hope that Dwyane is still capable of averaging big numbers on a consistent basis if given the chance, because the injuries are not healing.
Just when you thought the Miami Heat couldn’t embarrass the Chicago Bulls any further, they prove once again that they are as unpredictably efficient as any team in the league.
The Bulls have put in their best effort, but the mask has been pulled off. Their disguise of being able to stay in games through sheer effort and heart, combined with defensive discipline and low-percentage shots falling, could only keep their true identity hidden for so long.
It all fell apart in Game 4. In front of a late-arriving United Center crowd, the Heat put together one of their best defensive efforts in franchise history with an 88-65 victory.