1) Man, that was a tough game. Whooo, boy, both teams ground, dude. Knicks hung in tough as nails - Miami kept hittin' them in the face, and hittin' them in the face, and hittin' them in the face; and the Knicks stayed in it, and stayed in it, and. stayed. in .it...All night...UNTIL LATE IN THE GAME WHEN BATTIOKE, MIKE MIL-LAR, AND, ESPECIALLY, MARIO "EMCEEEEEEEE" CHALMERS STARTED RAINING IT ALL OVER THEM!!! 2-0, HOME COURT DEFENDED, OFF TO NYC, LET'S GOOOOOOOOOO!!!
2) Both "Big 3s," if you want to call them that, were excellent tonight. For Miami, Dwyane Wade did his Wade thing early, posting hard for buckets, slipping behind the defense off the ball for layups, and generally wreaking havoc. 25 points on 11-18 for Wade, including 19 in the first half. KJ James controlled the game from the top all night, and relentlessly pounded the ball into the lane, creating for himself - 19 points on 8-18 - and others, 9 assists, only 2 turnovers (and 7 boards and a couple of steals). Even Chris Bosh had a delightfully polite 21 points on 7-12. He was able to get himself to the line by stepping to the rim, letting guys bat the ball back into his face, and hoping the refs called a foul - whatever works...But the Knicks three best players also came to play: Carmelo Anthony was able to catch the ball in more comfortable areas and blistered the Heat with his midrange game: 15 first quarter points, 20 by half, and 30 for the game. Amare Stoudamire stumbled to the basket and managed to flip in 18 points on 6-8, and, for the first half at least, Tyson Chandler summoned memories of last June's Finals loss to Dallas by keeping innumerable balls alive on the offensive boards. Chandler finished with 13 points on 6-8, pretty much all of them dunks, and 7 boards. That's 65 points for the Heat big guys; 61 for the Knicks. It was a war - both stars on both teams lowered their heads and attacked the rim. So how did the Heat win?
3) The Heat won because in the fourth quarter, with both teams looking dog tired, they created better shots. Melo looked gassed and spent much of the quarter deferring to JR Smith and Baron Davis isolation one-on-ones rather than battle with KJ and Battier. Miami spread the floor out with shooters, let Dwyane and KJ penetrate, collapse the defense, and find open teammates. Emcee Chalmers (13 points, 6 assists) scored the first 6 points of the quarter on an open jumper when the defense doubled KJ, a floater in the lane when he penetrated and the defense stayed at home with shooters, and another floater in the lane where he penetrated and got knocked down. Then his triple off a KJ kickout with 7 minutes to go put the Heat up 12. Then, with 5 minutes to go, Bosh hit an open corner triple after a drive and kick with the shot clock going off to put Miami ahead 15, and Shane Battier and Mike Mil-lar hit triples off of sublime ball movement inside of 5 minutes to close the Knicks out. Good team basketball. Chalmers, Battioke, and Mil-lar were a combined 8-15 on threes, and the team finished with 28 assists on 38 hoops. 9 assists for KJ, 6 for Emcee, and 4 each for Wade, Bosh, and Mil-lar (stellar game from Mil-lar 11,4, 4 in 29 minutes). That's phenomenal, that's what Chalmers, Battier, and Mil-lar were brought here to do: space the floor for Dwyane and KJ, and make open-opportunity jumpers. The Knicks iso-heavy offense, by contrast, created 15 assists on 38 buckets. They played tough, and shot well - but for 48 minutes, Miami created the better shots. In the NBA, more often than not, that is what wins games.
4) A few things about Emcee Chalmers - after UD and Dwyane, he's probably my favorite player on the team - he's a mess-up, but he's our mess-up, if you get me. Also, he makes it much easier to write this blog, because he does at least three bizarre things almost every game. And, he is starting to develop a reputation for playing well in big games. Played huge against Dallas last year in the Finals, and here he is again, off to a good start against the Knicks. He's definitely unafraid of the moment, if only because he is forty to eighty percent unconscious at any given moment. I've said this for the last two years now: I trust him more than anybody on our team with an open look at a big triple if his feet are set. Love that kid. One more thing to consider, something I thought about a couple of weeks ago while GFOB AH and I got to sit courtside during warmups at The Trip, and watched a vaguely interested Chalmers come out for early shooting in bright red kicks and socks up to his knees, and spend 25 minutes lofting half-hearted moonballs towards the basket. Do you know how hard it is to make the NBA, in general? I mean, Udonis Haslem is 6'8", a very good athlete, tough as nails, was incredibly well-coached in high school and college, and he's a decent NBA player; I mean, he's not as good as the top players, but he's better than a million other 6'8" guys whom he beat out along the way to the NBA. Now take that same scenario, and make UD 6'1" instead of 6'8" - that's Emcee Chalmers. Do you know how many guys who are 6'1" and play basketball and would like to be in the NBA exist on Earth? Millions and millions - one of them is typing the words you are reading right now. Think about how many dudes you know who are 6'1" compared to how many you know who are 6'8" - that's how many more players Mario Chalmers had to beat out than UD, or Chris Bosh, or Amare Stoudamire. And until he got to college, every time UD showed up to a new team, guaranteed he was a head taller than everyone else there - guaranteed the coaches were going to give him the first chance to be on the team, get the most attention, etc, because he was so tall. Every time Emcee Chalmers showed up, no one would know if he could play or not until he started playing. And if there was some kind of alley oop drill early in the tryout, the coaches would have been like, "no, this kid is a spaz," and cut him! The odds that kid has overcome (or Baron Davis, or Norris Cole, or Mike Bibby - especially Mike Bibby!) are unfathomable. You can't fathom the odds! Puts it in a little perspective. Emcee Chalmers - again, I love that kid. I hope we win a title, because I will be super-proud of him...
5) The pugnacious Joey Crawford was reffing the game tonight. He once famously challenged mild-mannered Tim Duncan to a fight, during a game, was fired, and then, bizarrely, re-hired. Recently I saw him get incensed on a play that he thought Orlando's Ryan Anderson flopped on, called an incorrect foul on Anderson out of spite, and then deliberately altered his path to petulantly step over Anderson in a blatant attempt to try to goad Anderson into an argument (Anderson lept up, but was restrained by his teammates). He was up to his usual antics tonight - missed a blatant over-the-back on Tyson Chandler while tip-dunking, then when Chandler screamed harmlessly in the general direction of Mike Mil-lar after sending him crashing into the crowd, Crawford angrily t'd him up, while Carmelo Anthony shook his head and laughed sarcastically on the bench, like, "same old Crawford." I think it is pretty well known around the league that Crawford is a clown. But guess who doesn't know it (or doesn't want to admit it because he is so nice): Heat color commentator Tony Fiorentino! Tony always looks for the good in people. When Crawford blew a second half call on a clean block by KJ James on Stoudamire, KJ objected vociferously, and Crawford, aggravated, waived him off - KJ was lucky not to receive a technical from the hot-headed official. Tony assessed the situation by pointing out Crawford badly missed the call, but reasoned, "Crawford has a pretty good disposition; he'll say to a guy 'I'll go back and look at the call later, maybe I missed it.'" One, you know who else also had pretty good dispositions? Pol Pot, Ted Bundy, and the Loch Ness Monster. Oh, and Rick Santorum. Two, what he usually actually says to a guy in a situation like that is probably more like, "I'll go back and look at it; maybe I missed it. But if I didn't, I'm going to come back out here and punch you in the face for daring to question me." Three, how about just not missing such an easy call? Wouldn't that actually be the best solution? What? Oh, right - I forgot, this is the NBA...
6) Very wordy tonight, sorry. Let's go quick here. I was in a department store on Sunday: clearance sale on argyle socks!!! Two pairs for $1.50!!! You think this win makes me feel good? You think I like being up 2-0 on the hated New York Knicks? How do you think I feel when I am wearing a sporty pair of .75 cent argyle socks? NEVER BETTER!!! I LIVE FOR ARGYLE!!! I'D PAINT MY HOUSE ARGYLE IF M.MINUTOS WOULDN'T DIVORCE ME!!! ARGYLLLLLEEEEE!!!
Well, we're up 2-0, and we just need to go to New York and get one of the two games there - first one is Thursday, second one is Sunday afternoon (bleccchhh). If you need me before then, I'll be making a care package of argyle socks to send to Emcee Chalmers. He's 6'1, I'm 6'1"; he loves argyle, I love argyle. Love that kid!!! See you Thursday!