If you ever wondered what it would look like if they played basketball under hockey principles, you just may have gotten your answer in Wednesday night’s Miami Heat win over the Chicago Bulls.
This was about as physical as a basketball game can get, at least until it got so ridiculously lopsided in the second half that Vladimir Radmanovic, who had played in only 25 games and averaged less than six minutes an appearance, played over 10 minutes for the Bulls in his first postseason action.
For the night, the game featured 51 personal fouls, one of them a flagrant (the Heat’s Chris Andersen), nine technical fouls, two ejections and countless exchanges of elbows, glares, shoves, hacks and grabs. And there was enough trash talking among both teams to fill countless dumpsters.
The technicals started in the first minute when the Heat’s Dwayne Wade didn’t like the way Marco Belinelli fouled him and threw the ball back at Belinelli’s legs.
They ended in the fourth quarter when the Joakim Noah, who had been called for one technical in the first quarter, got his second and Taj Gibson got two all at once for their histrionics following what they perceived questionable officiating in the first two minutes of the fourth.
Thus neither were around at the end of the Heat’s 115-78 victory.
Others getting T’ed up were Marquis Teague and Nate Robinson of the Bulls and LeBron James and Mario Chalmers of the Heat.
The Heat seemed by far the cooler of the two teams down the stretch, which is easy to do when you are enjoying leads of up to 46 points. The Bulls, particularly Noah and Gibson, were steaming, outscored 60-37 over the final two periods.
“We got sidetracked, and you can’t do that,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We showed a lot of frustration to carry over to the next play. You have to have poise under pressure.
“You come in here, you’re not going to get calls. That is the way it is. That’s reality. You can’t get wrapped up in that stuff. You have to stay focused on the task at the hand.”
So now the two teams move on to Chicago with each owning a win apiece in the best-of-seven series. That’s the thing about the 37-point final margin, which, by the way, was at once the Heat’s biggest margin of victory ever in a playoff game and the Bulls’ worst loss in a playoff game.
They don’t figure in margin of victory.
To get back the home-floor advantage they had at the start of the series the Heat must win one of the potential three games to be played on the Bulls’ court, preferably (from the Heat’s point of view), one of the next two.
They were in a similar situation just a year ago, when they split their first two games of their second-round series against the Indiana Pacers. They lost Game 3 to go to down 2-1 in the series, then won the next three.
The Bulls hope to have guard Kirk Hinrich back, and Luol Deng remains “day-to-day” for complications that ensued after a spinal tap gone wrong. The soap opera swirling about guard Derrick Rose and his comeback continues to go on.
The Heat, meanwhile, are in good shape physically overall. Even Wade, who had missed the final game of the first-round series against the Bucks because of a balky knee, showed signs of being his old self. He had 15 points and five assists in just a little over 28 minutes on the court. He hit seven of his 11 field goal attempts.
James, who had scored only two points in the first half of the loss in the opener, scored all of his 19 points for the game in the first two quarters. He looked to be a threat for a triple-double but finished with five assists and nine rebounds while spending the entire fourth quarter on the bench.
The two teams play Friday and Monday in Chicago and return to Miami for Game 5 on Wednesday (May 15).