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So Close to His Crown
Posted By Frank Sullivan On May 20 2011 @ 9:50 am In Chicago Bulls | No Comments
Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals played out much like Game 1, with both teams trading the lead back and forth throughout the first half. Even the score was nearly identical (48-48 at half in Game 1) 48-46 in Game 2. The only difference this time around was the Heat showed up in the second half, their stars played like stars, and they’re going back to Miami tied at one game a piece.
The simple fact is: the Heat played poorly in Game 1, and they knew it. This time around the two superstars (who struggled mightily on Sunday night) brought their A-game, and outshined the Bulls in Chicago. Dwayne Wade poured in 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks (compared to his pedestrian 18 in G1) and attacked the basket hard in the first half to set the tone. He and LeBron were helped, some, by their supporting cast as well.
Chris Bosh added 10 points and eight boards (after leading the Heat with 30 in G1). A unfamiliar sight to Heat fans was the play of Udonis Haslem; struggling through foot injuries all season, he gave them 13 points and five rebounds, along with toughness and defense they lacked in G1.
For everything the Heat did well in G2, the Bulls were unable to match it down the stretch. Their leader, Rose had arguably his worst shooting performance of the playoffs (Scoring 21 on just 7-24 from the field). Their $75 million forward, Boozer was outworked and out rebounded by smaller players (only scored seven, sitting out most of the second half). Luol Deng was the only other Bulls player in double figures with 13 points, but as good as he was guarding LeBron in G1, it was a different story in G2.
LeBron said it himself before the series even started: “…it’s going to be offensive struggles sometimes…two great defensive teams [that] take pride defensively, [teams that] get more out of getting stops than they do in scoring.” We watched the Bulls play proud defense in G1, in G2 it was the Heat’s turn.
LeBron raised the Heat in the second half, closing the game out in the house that MJ built. James scored 29 points (9 in the last 4:30), grabbed 10 boards (something the Heat struggled with in G1), dished out five assists and had three steals as well. Not to mention he played for all but two minutes in the game (46 minutes).
Consider everything LeBron has gone through in the past year: The Decision to leave his hometown (and become hated in Cleveland), his sub sequential signing with the Heat and the kitschy welcome party they put us through, all the talk of winning “1,2,3,4,5,6…7?” championships, the up and down season, the defeat of the Celtics, and now this.
He’s come full circle; he’s right where he wanted to be when he chose to sign with the Heat last summer. Everyone questioned whether he and D-Wade would work together, but everyone overlooked the fact that LeBron (love him or hate him) is the best player in the world, and it’s his unselfishness that’s sets him apart.
We’ve watched him grow up; starting out as the raw, skinny 18 year old kid, spinning in the lane against the Kings. He’s turned into this man-child we all love to hate/watch. Game 2, that fourth quarter was his “I told you so” moment. Knowing James’s attitude, knowing his bravado, he’s going to give us a show in this series; it’s up to Derrick Rose whether or not the Bulls will be able to match him.
“The series has just started,” James said. “It’s 1-1. We’re excited that we were able to come here and get a win. But it’s just started.” LeBron said following Game 2.
Now, the series shifts to Miami. With the crowd behind them this Heat team has given us highlight after highlight all season long. Still, both teams have proven they can win on the road, as well as at home during the regular season. It’s hard to see what this series will look like when they return to Chicago next week.
Rose and the Bulls won the first game playing team defense and hitting open shots. LeBron & Wade won Game 2 the way they expected to all season: sheer strength and talent. It’s a best of five series now; the games will get closer, the fouls harder, the stakes higher. Either the MVP or the King will be standing in the end.
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