1) Well, that was a pretty good start to the playoffs. That's it, right? It's over, right? We're the champs? Oh - we still have to win 15 more games? Ahhhh, bummer. KJ James going ham; volume shooting from "the others;" and defense, defense, and more defense. It's just one game; but it was one goooood game, and the Heat lead the Knicks 1-0 in this best of 7 playoffs series. We're gonna touch the sky, babygirl! Let's gooooo!
2) A lot of times KJ James, especially on Twitter, likes to point out when people are "going ham." He'll be watching, like, an Olympic curling match (if you follow him on Twitter, you know he watches a ton of sports), and he'll be, like, "Finland goin' ham right about now!" He really, really gets excited. White people, you wanna know what "going ham" means? You know: going crazy, killing it, going bananas, going off. Today, during the second quarter, in which the Heat outscored the Knicks 40-13, KJ went double jambon! He went ham, he went cheese - He! Went! Off! Started the quarter barreling to the hoop, getting to the line, and pitching out for Shane Battier triples. Then, late in the quarter, with the Heat pushed out to a 14 point lead, Knicks center Tyson Chandler gave him a bit of a cheap shot - walked into a screen that KJ didn't see coming, since it was off the ball, and he was trotting back on defense. The refs correctly called it a Flagrant 1 foul - it wasn't ejectable, but it wasn't a basketball play, either - and KJ made both free throws, and then on the ensuing possession okey doked JR Smith into the air, took a hard blow as Smith landed and still managed to bank in a 20 footer for a 5 point trip. After a Heat stop, he made a step back 20 footer, and then after another Heat stop, ended the quarter by barreling to the basket, taking a hip check from Jared Jeffries en route, and flipped the ball into the basket while stumbling (although he missed the free throw - stiff!). 9-0 run by KJ, capping a 24-2 Heat run, halftime, 23 point lead, ballgame. Ham.
3) I mean, we really put in the defense for this one! Holy cow! Miami dogged Knicks star Carmelo Anthony's every step on the court. They made it tough for him to even receive the ball out on the perimeter. He'd, like, post 23 feet from the hoop on the wing, with KJ James fronting him as hard as he could, and the Knicks guards would have to try to loop the ball down into space in the corner and hope that Melo could track it down before KJ got to it, or the help side big got to it, or before it just went out of bounds. When he was able to get to it, he had KJ in his shirt, and a big coming to help if he tried to go off the dribble. By the way - this was all in the first quarter! Then Shane Battier came into the game and leaned on him even more, while KJ roamed around playing defensive centerfield. Melo was 1-9 in the first half (3-15 for game) and the Knicks had 17 turnovers (24 for game). They'll adjust, it won't be like this all series - one thing that would help them is actually throwing the ball to the roller on the screen and rolls (although to be fair, they tried it a couple of times and Chandler and Stoudamire kept plowing into people for offensive fouls). I think the biggest takeaway from the defensive effort is that all second half of the season, when people were like, "what is wrong with the Heat," what was wrong with the Heat, in large part, was that they were just waiting for the playoffs to start. This is exactly what happened last year - they said, during last season, when the playoffs start, it will be different. And it was - energy and activity rose dramatically across the board. This year, they didn't even really address it - just kind of shrugged. And here it was again: increased activity defensively, and more driving to the rim offensively. It's just one game - you are going to have bad games in the playoffs, lose games in the playoffs - but it was a good start. It demonstrated, once again, that the Heat have another gear beyond their regular season speed.
4) Look, if Miami is going to have a chance to win the championship, it can't be all KJ (10-14, 32 points in 32 minutes) and Dwyane (8-13 for 19 in 31 minutes), with an occasional sprinkling of Bosh (a very weak 3-7 for 9 in 24 minutes, with 3 missed layups - in his first game back after a couple of weeks off, we'll give him a break). Other guys - primarily Chalmers, Battier, and Mike Mil-lar - have to make some plays. They aren't going to be super-efficient - if they were, they would be totally different people - but they have to stay at it, shoot open shots, grab a board here and there. You know: make plays, that's what I'm saying, are you listening? Make plays! In the first half, when this was still a ballgame, Battier made two triples, two free throws, grabbed 5 rebounds, and drove Carmelo so bonkers that, at one point, when Melo's headband got knocked askew, he didn't even bother to fix it. That's what I'm talking about. Mil-lar made three triples, although two were in the non-competitive second half, and Chalmers chipped in with 11 points, 3 steals, and 9 assists, and, somehow, only 2 turnovers. He didn't even throw an errant alley-oop pass, although this was mostly because he didn't try any alley-oop passes. Combined those 3 guys made 6 triples and scored 28 points. When they do that, Miami is tough.
5) Referees: super excitable today. Udonis Haslem got fouled going to the rim early in the game, and as he walked to the free throw line, he and Stoudamire were jawing at each other, but totally in a non-confrontational way. I mean, they were yapping, but that's all they were doing, and neither of those guys ever starts anything - they both play inside the rules. Suddenly, referee Ed Malloy came sprinting into the middle of them with a furious look on his face, and emphatically t'd up both guys, who were suddenly united in their disdain for Ed Malloy. I thought the t's themselves were ridiculous, but even if you wanted to set a tone by being strict, why be so aggressive about it? Ed Malloy looked like a Tea Party dude - just senseless rage distorting his face. Calm down, Ed Malloy. Then, Tyson Chandler hit KJ with his little cheap shot and referee Gary Zielinski immediately ran in and ejected him! After reviewing the play, they changed the call, but again, why so happy to eject someone? Finally, in the second half, in an absolute blowout, Carmelo Anthony fouled Dwyane Wade on a drive, was left holding the ball, didn't protest the call, and passed it lightly out to referee Danny Crawford where, apparently, it hit Crawford in the back (tv cameras didn't pick it up). Again, here came Ed Malloy steaming in with the technical foul! Goodness gracious, these guys were ready to go, in a super bad way. I'm assuming we won't have this crew again for awhile, and that's a good thing - they were too amped up...
6) Injury report. First of all, Derrick Rose hurt his knee in the Bulls first playoff game against the Sixers today and is out for the rest of the playoffs. I never root for a dude to get injured, and I love rooting against Rose, and, frankly, the Bulls played Miami tougher this season when they didn't have Rose, because they moved the ball more on offense. I'm sad the Heat won't be the team with an opportunity to send him, personally, home for the season. Silver lining: he won't play on the American Olympic team this summer, which means I won't have to root for Argentina, since there is no way I'm rooting for a team with that petulant little egomaniac on it, even if it had Dwyane and UD...In the Heat game, Knicks rookie guard Iman Shumpert looked like he suffered a bad knee injury as well, a non-contact crumple to the floor. I felt really badly for him, he's a spirited young kid who competes hard, especially on the defensive end. Hate to see that. Silver lining: more Mike Bibby!!! Bibs got to play 21 minutes, although he was 0-4 from the floor (I was stunned by each miss). Also threw an alley-oop attempt that crashed off the back iron! Highlight of his game: when he had KJ James defensively in space and forced him into a fallaway 22 footer that KJ missed (one of only three misses in the game by him), and then, moments later, he had Shane Battier in the post, Battioke tried to walk him backwards, and Bibs pulled the chair on him, forcing a travel! They talk about KJ James guarding all five positions defensively! Bibby doin' it outside, doin' it inside - doin' it all! Love you, boy!
Holy smokes - I was really excited by this game! For the first time in the four years I've been writing this blog, well over 300 games, I have never before miscounted the number of thoughts I had written - I had 2 "3s" above, so you are getting an extra one! I'm giving you everything I have - and more, just like Mike Bibby!
7) I went for a jog outside before the game today. Usually, I will run about 4 or 5 miles inside at the gym on the treadmill. It doesn't really tire me out - I fight boredom more than actual fatigue. I will also sometimes lift weights, but a lot times I'll skip that part of my workout because it is so difficult. Why do they have to make the weights so heavy? That's crazy, that's counterproductive if it's going to make people skip it. Anyways, today I decided I would run outside. I used to do it all the time - I ran a marathon six or seven years ago. It was overcast today, not particularly hot, not overly windy. But, damnnn, was that crap hard. I felt like I was in one of those football workouts where someone had looped a long, thick elastic band around my waist for resistance, and I was running uphill, and against the wind. Also, I felt like someone was punching me in the thighs every step that I took. Each minute seemed like four minutes on the treadmill. I only ran three miles, and when I was done, I was twice as gassed as I am after running at the gym. Even right now, hours later, I feel like someone was pounding my ankles with a jackhammer. The moral of the story? I am old.
I don't want to take too much credit for the win, but quietly, without making a big deal about it, I changed my normal Heat game watching position from the extreme right side of the couch to the extreme left side of the couch. Annnddd, we won by about a hundred points. You're welcome! We're back for Game Two Monday. If you need me before then, I'll be icing down my tattered knees and ankles - Pat Ewing style! See you Monday!