LeBron James, Norris Cole

It’s true that almost nothing good ever happens for the Miami Heat without LeBron James being involved, but there’s more to this team than just the MVP. Chris Bosh usually takes less of what he used to in the offensive game, but when he does make the most of the opportunities and take the chances that are given to him, the Heat are much better for it.

James led the way in another physical scrap with the Chicago Bulls, beating them 104-94 to take a 2-1 lead after Game 3, scoring 25 points. But it was Chris Bosh with 20 points, 19 rebounds (5 offensive) and 2 blocks that made the real difference, along with Norris Cole who might have had his best career game, scoring 18 points off the bench.

Every team benefits from having a ‘microwave’ type of player, and Cole provided that little-bit surprising factor off the bench, going 6-7 from the field while hitting 3 three pointers on the way. Nate Robinson is supposed to be that guy for the Chicago Bulls, but injuries have jumped him up to be their focal point on offense, finishing with 17 points, one huge block on LeBron James, but leaving the Bulls without too many options for change coming off the bench.

You can’t win a championship being pretty and shiny. You’re going to have to get dirty. You’re going to have to play physical. You’re going to have to dive on the floor. You’re going to have to do things that are extremely tough. I think people forget just two years ago we were a half-court, grind-it-out kind of team that was trying to beat you down. Just because we’ve moved to more of a free-flowing offense, we’re more spread a little bit, that doesn’t mean that we are just a run-and-gun team.

LeBron shot only 6-17 from the field, as the Bulls were targeting him with clean and dirty shots all through the game. But James remained composed, and matches the physicality. If the Bulls didn’t have enough problems, they lost Nazr Mohammed during the game; the Bulls’ center fouled James, who pulled Mohammed to the floor. James was called for the technical foul, but the Bulls’ center didn’t think. He shoved LeBron James like if this was some sort of playground fight, and got ejected for it.

Chicago are turning this into a slug-fest  but the Miami Heat have proved time and time again they have no problem playing physical basketball and beating teams through it. When it comes down to the final moments of games, talent usually prevails, and the Bulls can’t matchup with the NBA champions in that, nor in depth and keeping players relatively fresh.

Game 1 wasn’t what this series was about. It was about the Chicago Bulls playing their best kind of basketball while relying on some Nate Robinson heroics late in the game. Game 3 was more like you’d come to expect from the series – the Bulls trying to drag the Heat down, and Miami answering with the same coin, plus the firepower they possess the Bulls can’t match.

Everybody wants to say it’s physical, but the Clippers and Memphis just got over a physical series, and everybody thought that was fun to watch. Now this is a physical series. It’s just two teams playing at a high level, and that’s it.