Nightly Grades: Bulls lock up the Nets to go up 2-1
Grading Game 3s for the Heat and Bucks, Nets and Bulls and Grizzlies and Clippers.
The Heat toyed with the Bucks for almost three quarters. For a split second there, it almost seemed like the Bucks might have something. But then once the Heat actually turned on the engine and shifted into gear, this thing was over quickly.
The score was 67-66 when LeBron hit a 3 late in the third, and from there Miami went on a 17-3 run to put it away and take a commanding 3-0 series lead.
What was interesting about the Heat's performance is that while LeBron James was predictably awesome (22-5-6, 9-14 shooting), Dwyane Wade struggled (1-12 shooting). Wade did have 11 assists and nine rebounds, though, but it was Ray Allen hitting 5-8 from 3 and pouring in 23 points that really made the difference.
Pretty much any other team, you'd have to dock them for winning the ugliest, nastiest way possible. Scoring four points over the final seven minutes? Making one basket over that time? Any other team and that's just gross.
For the Bulls, it's beautiful. Because that's who they are, and that's how they win. They completely locked the Nets down in the first half, holding them to 20 percent shooting. Brooklyn came out scorching hot in the second, shooting 41 percent. (OK, scorching is relative).
But the Bulls survived, they maintained. They stole the necessary game in Brooklyn, and now they've handled business at home so far. They're up 2-1 and have the pivotal Game 3 in their building.
It's really not Milwaukee's fault, though. The Bucks don't have the players. They can't keep up. They have to play near perfect halfcourt basketball and hope the Heat struggle. Even when they got that, eventually that plan was going to wear out, and when it did, the Heat pulled away quickly.
One thing that's become clear: The Jennings-Monta Ellis backcourt experiment is definitely looking like a massive failure. The two combined for another terrible shooting night, going 7-24 for 23 points. The Bucks are sunk now, down 3-0. But really, are we even remotely surprised? I have a feeling Jennings really isn't, either.
What happened to those Game 1 Nets? Was that an abberation, a random offensive blip, or have the Bulls truly made significant defensive adjustments to lock them down?
The Nets made one of 26 shots at one point in the first half. Had Gerald Wallace not hit a 3 at the buzzer, the Nets would've made zero of 26. ZERO of 26. That's ... bad.
Now they Nets are in a 1-2 hole and basically have to win Game 4. Like the one they put themselves in Thursday night, going down 3-1 to the Bulls doesn't seem like a hole they could dig out of.
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