If these conference finals proved anything, it’s that experience means something. But so does thirst. That thirst for a ring drove the Mavs to take out the Thunder and last night, the Heat, specifically LeBron James, used that thirst to stab Chicago in the heart. With three minutes left, the Bulls were up 12, playing the exact rumble-in-the-mud game they wanted with the exact relentlessness we expected, and we figured it was a formality. Game 6. Miami. Here we come. Except it didn’t happen. The Heat came back to win 83-80. They survived more than anything else, simply the last men standing in this brawl. And sometimes, that’s all you need. So finally the NBA is going to get what they want: LeBron vs. Ko…wait what? Oh yeah … Down 12 with three minutes left, Miami closed quickly on a D-Wade three-point play and a LeBron trey. After a D-Rose (9-for-29 shooting, 25 points, eight assists) floater, Wade banged a four-point play and James walked into a three on the next possession to tie it up. Sense a theme? The King provided the finishing touches with a steal off Rose (117 points on 120 shots this series) and a one-dribble pull-up over Ronnie Brewer (how did he not know James would go left and rise?) Rose had a couple of chances, but he failed those as well. First, he missed a potential-tying free throw. Then, his three was blocked by ‘Bron at the buzzer. Unreal finish. LeBron answered every question possible: his clutch, his deep shooting, his defense, his competitive spirit, and he did it all against the MVP (who couldn’t score late and was the one defending most of the ridiculous Miami shots) … If this guy was your dad, brother, husband, lover, friend or boss, what would you do? … How good is Miami? So good that not even six minutes in, they were already up 12-6 and the Chicago crowd was completely dead. It felt like the fans were resigned to a loss. Oh, Carlos Boozer just airballed a layup? Cool. But from there, Luol Deng (18 points) finally woke the crowd up by catching LeBron slipping, dunking on him on the break. We could’ve sworn afterwards that we saw James (28 points, 11 rebounds, six assists) meander over to the TNT table and mouth something to the guys behind the cameras. We’re also convinced baby Carlos from the Hangover could rebound better than Boozer (five points, six rebounds). LeBron’s J was working early, and with D-Wade’s shoulder problems and Bosh starting slow (20 points, 10 rebounds), it felt like we were watching a Cleveland/Chicago game from 2010. The second ‘Bron left for the bench in the second quarter, the Bulls pushed the lead up to double digits. If it wasn’t for Mike Miller, who hit three more shots in the first half, it could’ve gotten ugly. The real Mike Miller must’ve been let out of the carbonite recently because he’s been ballin’ like he’s back at Florida … On the first 22 possessions of the third, the two teams combined for 13 total points. The Bulls were hitting the glass hard and waiting for a Wade turnover every other possession. Wade’s (21 points, nine turnovers) night got so bad that by the middle of the quarter, the TNT guys were hypothesizing that there was something else going on with him. There has to be. He just passed up an open foul-line J, they said. These “off-court problems” seem to be affecting way too many players in the last few playoff runs. Alas, his late-game theatrics made up for it … The most ironic moment was easily Reggie Miller talking about ‘Bron’s ridiculous flop pretending to get hit in the face by Rose (Didn’t LeBron just buy a stake in a soccer team?). Miller started singing the King’s praises, basically handing him an Oscar … Let the predictions start. It’s a rematch of 2006: Miami and Dallas. Who’ll have the bigger mismatch against the defense: LeBron or Dirk? Who will be the x-factor? Who wants it more? Who needs it more? So much drama. So much at stake. Tuesday night: 9 p.m. ET. Get ready … Now that we know Jason Terry‘s tattoo of the NBA championship trophy inspired the Mavs, what will the Heat do? Count on Pat Riley to come up with some over-the-top thought with an even more ridiculous meaning that ends up somehow inspiring everyone … While we may not always check for his work, we still had to show this performance some love because Wale is rocking the new Washington jersey. Are those not immediately one of the top five jerseys in the league? … As we said earlier this week, Kentucky topped the list of schools former high school star Ryan Harrow was looking to transfer to. Now, it’s official: Harrow is a Wildcat. He joins an incoming freshmen class that can only be described as scary … We’re out like Inside The NBA.
Follow Dime Magazine on Twitter
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook