If you think LeBron James is a flopper, you’re wrong. He might be selling it in order to make the best of a situation in which the Chicago Bulls have decided the only way they’re getting something out of their series with the Miami Heat is by playing anti-basketball and the hell with everything else, but there’s not much else he can do.
Maybe players used to be tougher in the ‘old days’, which means the 1980’s and the 1990’s. But allowing others to clip your head when you go up for shots or do everything in their power to subtly injure you doesn’t make them tough or old school. It makes them dirty, and there’s a difference between selling a foul by not doing everything in your power to stand your ground, which is what James did in the Nazr Mohammed push, and actually flopping, which might have been a stronger issue in James’ past, especially a year ago, but it’s hardly been happening this season.
Maybe the Heat are getting preferential treatment from the referees, but the Bulls aren’t exactly being subtle or discrete in their attempts to win this series by sheer force and brutality. Everything they achieved in game 1, which was partially due to the fact that the Heat were too rusty from their long layoff after the Milwaukee Bucks series, they simply threw out all those plans out the window and went towards the easiest route, which is hitting everything in sight and hoping that somehow, through amazing defense and a little bit of luck, they manage a miracle.
It’s hard complaining about what the Bulls have been doing so far on offense, which wasn’t their strongest side anyway. But they’re missing Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich, and all organized attempts to have a transition offense or simple ball movement just went out the window. The Bulls are scoring only 0.62 points per possession in transition, making up less than 10% of their offense. They’re doing even worst in post up situations, despite having Boozer and Noah to work off, averaging only 0.41 points per possession.
Everything they’re doing on offense comes down to isolation and spot up shooting, which they’re doing quite well, the but the Heat are just as good if not better in those. They haven’t been able to stop Miami’s pick n roll plays, which the Heat do better than any other team in the league. Without being able to get back to that game 1 mode, which means trying to push the ball and actually move it instead of dribbling out the clock and taking tough, contested shots, their M.O. will continue to be getting frustrated and then complaining about the referees not turning a blind eye.
James has seen this before – with the Celtics, and throughout his career with the Wizards and Pistons during his earlier days in the NBA. Nothing new about people calling him soft, flopper and other allegations. He’s done enough to prove it’s wrong, but the Bulls are testing him. So far, he and the Heat are staying above the sludge and murk that the Bulls are trying to pull this series down to. As long as he and the rest of the Heat keep on playing that kind of basketball without getting over physical and carried away, they have nothing to worry about. It’s going to be tough and bruising, but they will come out of this series a better, stronger team.