A few thoughts on Friday’s Miami Heat victory over the Chicago Bulls in lieu of a proper game recap…
- Kirk Hinrich continues to cause havoc for Dwyane Wade with his stingy defense. For someone who got ejected for going after a referee and had to be restrained by several of his teammates and his own coach while screaming at him he sure was allowed to be quite physical with Wade throughout the entire game. My ESPN Truehoop colleague Matt McHale over at the excellent Bulls By The Horn somehow thinks that the only thing Hinrich is guilty of is "brushing" against referee Tom Washington as a result of impeding his way. I’m not sure what Hinrich and Brad Miller thought they were going to accomplish by intensely arguing with the referees at such a crucial part of the game over a fairly obvious call but it resulted in an ejection for an already decimated Bulls team and turned a manageable 10 point deficit into essentially a game over with a few minutes left.
- From the moment Wade began his drive towards the paint Miller began a deliberate collision course towards him that resulted in a flagrant foul. If you had position and were outside of the box then it’s a charge, something that Wade gets called on like any NBA player would. Now if the Bulls players and fans want to cry about how NBA superstars get all the calls then maybe we can have Bryon Russell give his opinion about that.
- Hinrich smothers Wade with a combination of good footwork and relentless pressure as soon as Wade gets the ball regardless of his position on the floor. He has an almost innate ability to track Wade down and rarely gets caught off guard by Wade’s offensive tricks. His secret? Kirk keeps his feet firmly planted to the ground and never goes for Wade’s fake passes and shot attempts. For as good a shooter as Wade is, he gets his fair share of points near the basket and via free throws because he works deception better than any other NBA player. All of that gets broken if he can’t shake off the perimeter player to start. Wade’s dunk at the 7:44 mark in the third quarter was only his second field goal of the game.
- Hinrich has much in common with Udonis Haslem. They’re starters who’ve been supplanted by the #1 and #2 picks in the 2008 draft.
- Somehow Jermaine O’Neal is getting better as the season progresses when most of us thought it was going to be the opposite with his age and creaky legs. O’Neal and Joel Anthony took full advantage of what was left of Chicago’s front line and really pulled through on a night where Wade needed help before he could get hot.
- Quentin Richardson and Mario Chalmers also did their part with their long range shooting. Quentin is doing what we thought Daequan Cook was going to do with his deadly three-point shooting and Mario Chalmers is making a very convincing case that he needs to be back in the starting line-up by playoff time.
- Only Chalmers made an effort to interact with some Bulls players after the buzzer sounded. Both benches cleared separately with a few cursory "see you in Chicago at the end of the month" waves and little else.
- Yes I said playoff time. The Heat look very much more like they’ll be in the playoffs and the Bulls can start praying that they get lucky again in the lottery.