Dear Game 7, you’ve been replaced.
Game 4—welcome aboard.
That’s what it has turned to in the NBA playoffs. This year, if a team up 2-1 can take a 3-1 lead the series has been over every single time. The winning percentage of teams who take 3-1 leads is staggering—96% staggering.
So, it’s pretty obvious what this means for Chicago and Miami. A Miami win increases the probability of a Miami-Dallas Finals to, well, nearly automatic. Tonight’s game means a lot. A Chicago win allows them to seize home court back from the Heat and simply, well maybe not so simply, own their home floor and head to the Finals. A Heat victory? Dirk vs. Wade Round 2—HERE WE COME!
Surely, there’s room for comebacks in a 3-1 series but as history has shown—unless there exists a monumental collapse the likes of…let’s see…something along the lines of that 2011 Thunder-Mavericks 4th quarter in Game 4 (anyone remember that game?)—you can have a 3-1 lead and do everything but punch that ticket to the next round.
Tonight means a lot for both teams. It’s got to have that Game 7 feel.
And it’s got to come from Derrick Rose’s play and Thibs’s energy. They have to be your key factors. They are your stars and your ex-factors rolled into one. When Carlos Boozer is scoring 26 and 17 it’s not a good sign. You can’t have Carlos Boozer being your leader because you’re just going to falter down the stretch and it was no surprise Sunday night in Miami.
The defining play that people look for in that game on Sunday was the absolute abusing of Kyle Korver by Lebron James on a fastbreak which lead to an and-one and eventually the equivalent of hitting a 3 at home to put your team up by 15 with about 5 minutes left the momentum changer in the game.
But looking back at that game there is a play larger that stands out in my mind was at some point in the 2nd half when Carlos Boozer’s shot got blocked/altered in the post and it lead to a Miami breakout the other way. As much as this play stood out for me, I don’t even remember if Miami scored on that basket. But the part that got me was when Boozer stopped, threw his hands up in the air and gestured at the ref that he got smacked on the wrist. Now, I’ve seen this motion done effectively while also being able to get back on defense. Many players do it with 50% of them wanting to tell the ref how bad of a call it was and 50% trying to convince everyone who’s watching that there was no way they could have shot that ball that poorly without getting hit on the wrist. It’s silly to do, but even if you do it you have to get back on D first! Big mistake. When that guy is your leader in a big game you’re absolutely screwed.
Now some may want to point to Bosh’s play and say that it is possible for a secondary, non-leader to step for a team—and trust me, I give Bosh a lot of credit for how he played his game (beyond a few unnecessary chest slapping, dinosaur roarin’ cries) but the real leader was Lebron. Re-watch that game and you’ll see how he has complete control of everything and shifted the momentum with the Korver fast-break embarrassment. It was Bosh’s game because it was a nice storyline but Lebron was a secret sniper knocking each of the Bulls’ best options with some great facilitating and clutch play.
Now, as I swallow my own puke about writing such a complimentary piece regarding the Miami Heat—let me re-iterate that Thibodeau and Rose have to be your engine tonight. Boozer can have 30 and 30 but if Thibs and Rose aren’t creating inspired play throughout the team it will be an empty 30 and 30.
Do you remember the scene from The Social Network when Eduardo realizes that Mark just watered down all of his shares to make him own next to nothing of Facebook? That’s the Chicago Bulls right now. They just realized that what they’ve been doing just might not work and that they own next to nothing in this series. Eduardo had that sudden dawning he couldn’t keep up with Mark despite being on the same level as him only a few years back. They were essentially just told that your inability to break the chemistry you had to get a Richard Hamilton, Stephen Jackson or (hey, I would have let you have him) Leandro Barbosa to take some pressure off of Derrick Rose has just watered down any chance you had to win this series.
(Interrupting thought. Noah for Harden? Perfect centre for the Thunder who are starting to realize that Perk really only fit perfectly in the Celtics’ system. Harden is long distance scorer who can defend much better than Kyle Korver. Was it a complete coincidence that the Thunder offence imploded when they had to trust Thabo Sefolosha to make big shots instead of Harden last night? I don’t think so. Even Dirk admitted once Harden fouled out they put their entire defensive focus towards shutting down KD
I know the Bulls love Noah but they can get Krstic back and run with the Boozer-Asik-Kurt Thomas-Krstic front-line. Harden off the bench to kill the Heat with dagger threes and beardzilla. Noah on the Thunder with youth, energy and that “eff-you-all I don’t care how much you hate me or my hair attitude”. I am crazy? Not only that, but Celtics keep Perkins and beat the Heat in 7.
Damn, I want David Stern’s job so I can rig all of this. And by the way, the league should be rooting against the Heat. If the Heat win this year all the intrigue is gone. The most boring and pathetic storyline emerges of ‘Will they do it again?’. Heat drop the game tonight then lose in 7 at the United Center at the NBA gets a full repeat off-season of ‘Can Lebron win a championship ever’, ‘Do they need to trade Bosh?’, ‘Spolestra job watch’. And not only that but an extended lockout means that we get potentially 7-13 months of ridiculing the Heat Welcome Party before the season even starts. OK, I am crazy.)
I completely destroyed momentum of The Social Network analogy I thought about but essentially Eduardo (the Bulls) need to storm out of that office and rip off Lebron, Wade and Bosh’s Zuckerberg headphones and tell them how much they’re pissed off and completely rattle them. Sure, it may happen that the Sean Parker of this whole series (easily, Pat Riley) will end up removing them but at least they need to leave the Heat thinking about themselves and feeling a little off-balance.
Zuckerberg, much like the Heat now, was feeling at an all-time high. He was about to add his millionth Facebook user and was living out a dream he had always foresaw himself doing one day. Not only that, but he had proved everybody wrong—sound familiar? Lebron is now feeling that championship. He is about to get that millionth friend when he had none before.
The least the Bulls need to do is get all Eduardo on the Heat and make them feel some pressure. Make them think everything isn’t okay. They had their Erica Albright moment in Game 1 but they need to come back with more. If they leave the Heat feeling like Mark did when Eduardo gets escorted out by security, then they’ve done their job.
Then we get to pull out the Winklevoss equivalent—Nowitzki (it’s like Aaron Sorkin sat down with David Stern to write the NBA playoffs)—and hope to get one last shot in on Zuckerberg.
The truth is that the Heat will win evenutally and Mark Zuckerberg is certainly hoisting the Larry O’Brien equivalent of social media today. We can only hope that Eduardo or the Winklevosses can get one more shot at him before he makes billions of dollars. We can’t let Zuckerberg just scoot off for free. We get a sour taste knowing that being immersed with college girls (moving to South Beach), backstabbing a massive group of innocent and average looking people through FaceMash (colluding to make the Big 3 and thus ruining basketball for every average NBA fan) and backstabbing and deceiving your one best friend in a classic “I knew I was screwing you over but I didn’t think you’d be this pissed off (Cleveland fans) will eventually win out. Mark wins. The Heat will eventually win. It’s a tough one to swallow.
Our only hope is that Lebron spends the summer refreshing a Facebook friend request for the Larry O’Brien trophy alone in his mansion.
Game 4? Meet Game 7. Tonight, you have a lot more in common than you first thought.