Then it escalated, that boil spilling over onto the hot stove with angry hiss. Did you expect otherwise?
The second quarter brought the stunning sight of LeBron James knocked backward onto his backside by raging Bull Nazr Mohammed, who was given a technical and ejected for his outrageous actions. James also drew a T on the play for the initial foul that set off the spasm of temporary insanity in Mohammed – who should also be suspended by the league from Monday’s Game 4 here.
Afterward Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau suggested James might have “flopped.”
(Unwise remark, Tommy. What’s that they say about tugging on Superman’s cape?)
Generally when you say both teams in a series are in for a fight, you mean it figuratively. Heat-Bulls is way too close to actual fisticuffs.
It likely was not incidental that Wade, who doesn’t usually, wore a mouthguard Friday night.
That snapshot of Middle-Finger Lady, the Miami fan angrily jabbing a digital salute at Noah during Game 2 – that pretty much summarizes the civility of this series thus far.
Ain’t it great!?
The thing is, Miami is suited to brutal, black-and-blue ball if that’s what is required. The Heat can adapt and go there. The larger personality of the team is better reflected by fast breaks, alley-oop dunks and three-point shots. By Showtime, South Beach-style.
But if you want to get down and trade elbows, remember whose team you’re dealing with here. Pat Riley’s team. Riley, the former amateur boxer with the bedrock belief in hard, hard defense. Riley, who earlier this year publicly told another club president to “shut the [bleep] up!” Except bleep began with ‘f.’
“Both of us are ‘culture’ organizations,” as Spoelstra described Heat-Bulls. “Both are defense-minded organizations that don’t back up. Their style of play won’t change and ours won’t change.”
Bosh probably didn’t mean to be quite so literal in saying, “When push comes to shove, we know what to do.”
Two and a half hours before Friday’s tipoff, no fans around, no media, Wade took a small detour as Heat players stepped off their team bus and prepared to enter the arena.
Wade, a Chicago kid, walked over to the iconic statue of his hero, Michael Jordan, a bronzed tribute frozen in time, Jordan in flight and, appropriately, slightly larger than life.
Like a fan, the Heat’s veteran star snapped a photo on his smart-phone, and put it out on Instagram.
“Always gives me the chills when I see this in person,” read the caption he wrote. “My hero MJ once told me: People forget about individual awards. But people never forget about Championships.”
Wade, deep enough into his basketball days to think legacy, to see the end on the far but ever-approaching horizon, has two championships on his NBA mantel and wants that third. At least. Funny how sometimes the more you have tasted, the hungrier you become.
Game 3’s triumph was a big leap closer to that third Heat title, and second straight.
It felt like a step as big as the one Jordan is making in airborne flight right outside the arena that Miami rendered so, so quiet on Friday night.