David J. Neal: Miami Heat must play matador and slay Chicago Bulls

05/15/2013 12:01 AM

09/12/2014 7:32 PM

Can the Heat please put this series out of our misery Wednesday night?

Can the Heat just put Chicago away in five games so Dwyane Wade’s right knee can get rest, treatment, a Repairo spell, whatever it needs so that its owner looks like Dwyane Wade again at the offensive end?

Usually, in a bullfight, I root for the bull (except in Bully For Bugs, the 1953 Chuck Jones-directed Bugs Bunny cartoon. No call for that bull to act like that with Bugs). But when the matador has stuck the bull multiple times and the poor animal no longer can gore the gizzard out of the matador, I think, “OK, end this.”

Same theory here. Once Chicago started shooting colder than the winter wind off Lake Michigan — the Heat defense and low-scoring Chicago’s reserves finding their level — this series lost drama. And, considering the unsightly basketball, it lost entertainment value other than belches of picturesque from the Heat.

It didn’t matter how well Chicago bent the Heat to its defensive will. It didn’t matter how long the Bulls could outhustle the Heat. The Heat’s superior talent and depth would result in enough execution to vanquish a Chicago team that pulled Rip Hamilton out of mothballs.

“Chicago’s going to bring everything they have,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra warned. “They’re a dangerous team and you don’t want to give them second life. Because they turn that second life into trouble.”

Yeah, yeah, a wounded animal is a dangerous animal. Not as dangerous as a healthy, hungry, hacked-off animal. There’s a reason animals try to wound each other. There’s a reason we have spent this series wondering if Derrick Rose, Luol Deng or Kirk Hinrich ever would see the court. Considering the Heat’s sloppiness in Game 1 and the second quarter Monday and the way they stayed suburban in Game 3, a robust Bulls team might be coming to town in a happy mood.

Instead, the Bulls couldn’t be more ready to go. For the last three quarters of Game 4, they resembled a boy worn down by too much play wrestling with his bigger, stronger older brother.

Spoelstra was asked Tuesday if Chicago looked tired in Game 4.

“Tough to say. Tough to say,” he replied. “We just have to focus on our identity and working to impose that identity as consistently as possible. Less fades, drops and lack of focus. Stay true to that, the better it is for us. It hopefully has a wearing effect. We’re not doing it for this team because of the adversity and injuries they’ve had. It’s more important for us to do because it’s important for us and we get good results when we play that hard and that aggressive.”

I have never covered Spoelstra day-to-day for a season or several. I don’t know him as well as those coaches I have covered in such a manner (although with his talk of “hockey assists” and Tuesday’s touting of Wade’s “plus/minus,” he does sound like many NHL coaches I covered). I do know coaches in general. They generally dismiss out of hand the idea their opponent looked fatigued.

So, running Spoelstra’s answer through a Coaches Rosetta Stone, it sounded like, “They looked more beat than Bluto after Popeye gets into the spinach.”

Clearly, Bulls guard Nate Robinson’s Underdog super energy pill lost its punch, considering the way the Heat sent him back to obscurity the last three games. Robinson went zero for Monday in his return to being a third-string, journeyman guard.

And much as things crackle around Joakim Noah being the NBA’s version of the kid that drives teachers to retirement, I can’t look at that hair much longer. Noah’s knot up top reminds me of John Belushi from the original Saturday Night Live cast in one of his Samurai skits.

Enough with Little Man Nate and The Chicago Seven Samurai. Roll the credits on this all-but-posthumous basketball episode of At The Movies. Two thumbs down on Chicago’s Hoop Dreams.

Finish them.

About David J. Neal

David J. Neal

@DavidJNeal

David J. Neal joined The Herald in 1989 and South Beach in 1990. He covers FIU after covering the Panthers for over a decade then the Dolphins for half a decade. The only day he won't work is Indianapolis 500 Race Day.

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