Notes from TNT’s Exclusive Coverage of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals Tuesday, May 24, 2011: In Game 4, LeBron Goes Magic, Mike and Larry and Heat Lead Bulls 3-1
(Mike Ehrmann / Getty Image)
How ya like me now?
Game 4: Chicago Bulls (93) @ Miami Heat (101) OT; Miami leads the series 3-1. TNT’s exclusive coverage of the 2011 NBA Eastern Conference Finals continues on Thursday, May 26 at 8:30 p.m. (ET). The player links below are post game comments (LBJ is 1st part, Wade is 2nd of their presser. Also, mouse over the film links and youtube vids will appear on the page). More on the title below and I know you dug that last defensive sequence when LeBron saved the ball from going out of bounds right? Rewind that sequence in your mind.
Lakers fans did you see Mike Brown is close to becoming your coach? Good for Mike because with all the retreads running NBA amok, he definitely deserves another shot to win…because that is what he has done. He’s a Popovich guy and a defensive mind the Lakers could use. I do feel sorry for Brian Shaw though.
To the game…
Miami is too fast, too good, too strong and Chicago is just too young. Simple as that. With the exception of the first game, the last three contests are a virtual mirror. Thibs is trying everything. The formula seems to be Chicago, behind Rose and stellar defense, hanging in there and hanging in there until one of Miami’s stars (and now someone from bench) gets hot and leads the Heat to victory.
When the Heat formed last summer, the criticism was their lack of size and depth on the bench. Outside of their known talent, pundits network to network…barbershop to barbershop…blog to blog said they didn’t have enough and wondered where credible production off the bench would materialize. Was it a deserved criticism so early on? I don’t know because of course it all had to play out and a lot of the scrutiny of this team was just about “The Decision“. What this Heat team is doing now is showing the world what would have been and what is to be and if the Heat ever get a big time center (you know Pat Riley’s wheels are turning. He’s always had a center) it’s a wrap.
Chicago’s bench won Game 1 behind Taj Gibson, Miami won Game 2 and to a lesser extent 3 behind Udonis Haslem and Miami Game 4 behind Mario Chalmers (9 points) and Mike Miller (12 points). Haslem just had 2 points but whenever he’s on the floor the Heat seem to have an advantage.
Remember Miller was on the shelf with injuries for a lot of the season and never was able to find his rhythm. His 9 rebounds were just as big as any of his points. He alluded post game that this season has been the toughest frustration he’s had to deal with professionally and that his confidence was tested. The lineup of James, Bosh, Wade, Haslem and Miller was the idea coming into the season and obviously injuries took a toll and derailed what could have been a historic year for the Miami Heat win column. What the fans don’t see is the inner workings of a team. You hear this and that from talking heads who really don’t cover the sport as much as beat writers. Miller and Haslem were college roommates at Florida…integral parts on the 2000 Final Four squad. It’s obvious this team is close knit because of so many relationships writers fail to focus on.
Erik Spolestra spoke of the grind that was this game. He talked about the difficulty both teams were having getting into any type of offensive flow because of the defensive pressure applied on both sides. This series is reminiscent of what a Bulls/Heat series from the 90′s would resemble with low scoring games and also opportunities to get out and run kept to a minimum.
All 16 Heat overtime points was scored by James (interesting stuff about Drake), Wade and Bosh. Big players step up at big times and with LeBron doing his all around NBA legend versatile impersonation and with Bosh and Wade just being themselves only a NBA team of legendary proportions could stop this team right now. You saw who the real MVP of the league is. It’s LeBron James. We can talk here and there about regular season claim to fame but it’s funny that LeBron didn’t win the MVP this season when a team he’s on has its best chance to win it all.
Now to why I titled (check the video linked below) this the way I did…
I think back to when I asked LeBron before the Olympics (I begin at 4:51 but his answers to all questions are interesting. I spoke with Bosh, Boozer, Kobe, Michael Redd and Coach K as well. I apologize for video quality) of what the Olympic and NBA experience would mean for kids but more importantly what different skill he would bring back to the NBA. He answered the question as best he could but what I would say he definitely developed defensive prowess. I say LeBron is MVP of the league because of what he does on both ends and his ability to lock down Rose when he has to is something no other player in the league possesses (trust, he will guard Dirk Nowitzki in stretches during the Finals). Wade isn’t a slouch either because like LeBron’s last second Rose contest, DWade’s block on the Bull Wonder was just as great…if not spectacular.
But there’s one game left to win in the Eastern Conference Finals before any initial thoughts of entering the pantheon…right?
LeBron James said it best here: “This is ’06 for DWade and ’07 for myself since we’ve been to the Finals and it’s one game away so we’re not taking anything for granted.”
For Chicago, again it’s the same story of Rose doing it all by himself. In the first half he put the team on his back and went off…
But Derrick hit only 1-9 from behind the line and shot 8-27 to get his 23. Take out Boozer (20 and 11) and Deng (20) and what do you see? Nothing. There’s not much to examine with Chicago. The Bulls got nothing from their bench. I thought the Bulls should have played Brewer more than Korver. Joakim Noah did have 14 boards and 6 assists but his 6 points is not what I expected. As I’ve said before, I thought he would have a big series scoring and while the Bulls ineffectiveness cannot be solely placed on his passionate shoulders, his lack of offensive production is a part of the problem.
Hypothetically…think about it…you’re playing pick up and your choice is Rose, Deng and Boozer vs. Wade, LBJ and CB. The game is tight. Back and forth. Boozer is screaming after every dunk but suddenly Wade and LeBron are making power forward rebound and blocked shot plays to go along with tremendous athletic scoring ability. Rose is doing his thing at the rim in reticence but Deng and Boozer are destroyed late and the Miami triumvirate ultimately wins. They stay on the court all day because no one can stop them for an entire stretch where the chips are on the table.
That’s all it is folks. Simplify it and in real time all we are seeing is the normal output of regular season averages in a playoff setting. As I’ve said many many times before, this series is coming down to experience. Dwyane Wade is a NBA champion playoff MVP. We all know about LeBron’s walk and Bosh was doing nothing more but marinating up in Toronto. Miami is ready to take all the chips folks. Writers please catch up to the narrative. The Decision came and went and now it’s time to focus on the bright future the NBA is primed to capitalize on. Do yourself a favor and hate no more because all you’re doing is frustrating yourself. Now why in the hell would you want to do that? It’s just sports right?
I said this would be over in 5 and I’m sticking to it.
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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com
Announcers: Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kevin McHale and Kenny Smith
Barkley comments on the fans of Miami: “Let’s talk about the Miami fans, a couple of them got rowdy the other night but the people in Miami have been fantastic, fantastic. We’ve been down here a few days and they’ve been great. Don’t let a couple drunk idiots take away from the game.”
Barkley comments on what Chicago has to do tonight: “A series is an adjustment from game-to-game. Kevin said it the other, they’ve [Chicago] got to push the pace. They [Chicago] don’t have to be reckless but you have to push it. Push it and get another 10 points, that could be the difference in the game.”
Barkley comments on the winner of Game 4 tonight: “Whoever wins this game, wins the series.”
Smith on what Miami has to do tonight to stay focused: “Each player playing significant minutes wants to see if everyone else is here [in the moment]…staying focused, not worrying about who’s in the stands, what celebrities are here. That is the moment…lock in now.”
McHale on what attitude star players take when entering a pivotal game: “When you’re one of the top players, you gotta walk out like ‘follow me boys because I’m bringing the heat tonight. I’m going to take someone to the woodshed and I’m going to give everything I’ve got.’ That fires them up.”
Smith on all the OKC Thunder had to do to win Wednesday’s Game 4 vs. Dallas with a 15-point lead: “There was a point in that game, I counted, if they [OKC] would’ve held the ball for 24 seconds, it would’ve been impossible for them to lose. That’s just clock management, clock understanding and as a point guard, and a team, you have to be better.”
Barkley on hearing someone compare Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki to Larry Bird: “Let’s not get caught up in the moment, I love Dirk. He’s unbelievable but let’s not compare him to Larry.
Johnson turning to McHale: “Would you compare him to Larry Bird?”
McHale: “Not overall but what he’s doing is having a ‘Larry Bird-type’ series.”
McHale on the keys to the game tonight for Chicago: “Chicago has to find a way to score 95 points tonight. Derrick Rose has to be the MVP tonight, he’s going to have to be super-special tonight, 20 points, five rebounds and five assists aren’t going to do it. He’s got to get 30 points tonight.”
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Announcers: Marv Albert (play-by-play), Steve Kerr (analyst), Reggie Miller (analyst) with Craig Sager, reporting.
Miller comments on Miami guard Mike Bibby: “Anytime you get bonus points from Mike Bibby it’s huge. He can stretch the floor with his shooting.”
Miller on Bulls’ guard Derrick Rose: “Derrick Rose can’t settle tonight. He’s always got to be in attack mode and put the pressure on Mike Bibby.”
Kerr comments about Albert pointing out LeBron James offseason training of swimming, yoga and pilates: “That’s how I got ready for this tough, grueling broadcasting grind we’re on.”
Miller on Miami’s poor shooting to start Game 5: “The way this game is gearing up and the way both teams are shooting were looking at a 75, 76-type game because of the defenses.”
Kerr on Chicago’s record when guard Keith Bogans hits three-pointers: “When Bogans makes three or more three-pointers, they’re [Chicago] 9-0.”
Kerr on what Chicago needs to do offensively: “I feel like that’s where they have to win this game, second-chance points, the offensive boards. That’s what fuels this offense and gives it confidence.”
Kerr comments on Chicago center Joakim Noah’s temperament tonight: “He’s got a ton of energy tonight. Not only did he play poorly but he had that incident on the bench. He’s come out very focused tonight.”
Miller comments on Chicago guard Derrick Rose not distributing the ball to his teammates early in the game tonight: “I think he’s lost trust in his teammates.”
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Johnson, Barkley, McHale and Smith
Smith on not wasting opportunities within a game: “They come at a premium. You have to know the importance of taking good shots and good ball possession.”
Smith commenting on Chicago guard Derrick Rose playing a little reckless: “You talk about Derrick Rose playing a little too fast. I’ll bet you [NASCAR’s] Kyle Petty and those guys get a little reckless at times. You have to let the best be reckless a little.”
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Kerr on whether Chicago has enough offense to close out Miami in the second half: “You gotta love the effort tonight from Chicago. This is a team that has not lost three straight all season long. Their entire program is really built on defense and toughness…and you brought it up Reggie, will they have enough offense to close out Miami?”
Miller on the performance of Miami’s James and Wade: “LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, when it mattered most, put them on they’re shoulders.”
Kerr on Miami’s Mike Miller: “Let’s give credit to Mike Miller, just like [Udonis] Haslem the other night.”
Kerr on Miami’s LeBron James performance in Game 4: “Whatever this team needs he provides. The other night he was Magic Johnson, tonight he was Michael Jordan.”
TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Miami forward LeBron James following the game.
James on Miami’s great defense and ability to control Chicago’s Derrick Rose: “We did what we needed to do – protect home court. Our team defense tries to key on him [Rose].”
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Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai
Johnson, Barkley, McHale and Smith
McHale on Chicago chances after falling behind 3-1 in the series: “Chicago had chances but it’s going to be a tough one to come back from.”
Barkley on LeBron’s performance: “LeBron’s energy level on both offense and defense was just phenomenal.”
Smith comparing LeBron in Miami with LeBron in Cleveland: “LeBron James is playing more like he did in Cleveland. He was the guy who had to do everything.”
Barkley on Chicago’s mental status following Game 4: “I worry about the Bulls psychologically right now.”
Smith on the importance of ball possession in the playoffs: “Every game is going to come down to two minutes to go.”
|R. Butler||DNP — COACH’S DECISION|
|K. Thomas||DNP — COACH’S DECISION|
|J. Lucas||DNP — INACTIVE|
|J. Pargo||DNP — INACTIVE|
|B. Scalabrine||DNP — INACTIVE|
|E. House||DNP — COACH’S DECISION|
|J. Howard||DNP — COACH’S DECISION|
|Z. Ilgauskas||DNP — COACH’S DECISION|
|J. Jones||DNP — COACH’S DECISION|
|E. Dampier||DNP — INACTIVE|
|J. Magloire||DNP — INACTIVE|
|D. Pittman||DNP — INACTIVE|
Time of Game: 3:00