So you decided to take a night off from the wear-and-tear of NBA Playoffs, and are interested in reading up on what you missed, eh? Well, word of wisdom: drink your morning coffee away from the presence of any loved ones/people you don't want to scald, because there were some serious spit-takes on a night everything went topsy-turvy, with the Bulls and Spurs winning insanely enjoyable games to open their Conference Semifinals series.
If you really want to relive it, check out the stream from Monday night replete with breakdowns -- and most importantly, .GIFS -- but here's what happened in summary:
Bulls 93, Heat 86
Yeah, there's the first spit-take.
Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, and Derrick Rose remained out for the Bulls. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and their host of talented role players all were in for the Heat. And yet, the Bulls bested the Heat, taking the first game of a series everybody thought would be a sweep, on the road in Miami, handing the defending NBA Champions their first loss of the postseason on the night LeBron James got his MVP.
The odds were stacked against the Chicago bunch here. The Heat had nine days of rest -- and unfair oodles of talent -- and the Bulls were going on one day of rest after winning Game 7 in Brooklyn, with, like, six-ish NBA-caliber players in uniform. They stood tall to the task, though, right from the opening tip. Frustrating a defense designed to hamper LeBron, the Heat missed some open looks and managed only 15 points in the opening quarter, their lowest total of the Big Three era. The Bulls weren't much better -- they could barely get the ball across half court at times against a full-court press when Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli took breathers -- but fought to get the game to halftime tied at 37 apiece, with James managing just two points on six shots.
LeBron did not take kindly to being tied at halftime. He scored 22 points in the second half, 13 in the fourth quarter on a series of one-more-impressive-after-the-other finishes and and-1's.
But the Bulls exploded with 35 points in the fourth quarter, against the fearsome defense of the Heat. They converted some equally improbable and-1's, and Belinelli and Jimmy Butler hit some clutch threes to get the game tied at 86. Then, Nate Robinson -- Nate! Robinson! And this in the same game a hit from LeBron James caused him to get stitches! -- scored the game's final seven points, toasting Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen in isolation on back-to-back possessions:
The Heat didn't score in the final two minutes of the game.
Butler played 48 minutes for the third consecutive game -- the first player to do so in the playoffs with no overtimes since at least 1986 -- with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Robinson had 27 points and nine assists. The Bulls won on the boards, 46-32. And before you crow LeBron James didn't deserve the MVP, he had 24 points on 17 shots, eight rebounds and seven assists on a night the other Heat starters combined to go 13-for-36 with 32 points.
So was this a fluke, a rusty Heat team off their own game? Or is this a little bit of a series here?
Spurs 129, Warriors 127 (2OT)
Go ahead, slam your head into the desk a few more times, dude who turned this game off a bit too early. We get it: you saw Golden State up 16 with three minutes to go, and saw Tim Duncan walking down the hallway into the locker room to deal with a stomach bug that's bothering him, and you thought you were safe to call it a night.
But the Spurs countered a preposterous third quarter by Stephen Curry with a furious comeback, tying the game in regulation, and eventually winning in double overtime after Manu Ginobili drilled a game-winner with 1.2 seconds left.
At first, this looked like a game from Golden State's series against Denver, picked up and dropped a few hundred miles southeast, hoping no San Antonio fans would notice. The Warriors were doing fine, staying ahead of the Spurs with an offense operating at an extremely high level already, when Curry decided to take over.
Curry drilled everything, with frequency and nonchalance. He'd lose his dribble, end up a few feet away from where he'd planned, look up, contested jumper? Bottom on a 22-footer. Random spin move, defender still there? A 26-foot three from straightaway, all twine. Since you can't go under on picks with someone as crazily locked in as Curry was, the Spurs would switch, and he'd drive to the bucket past defenders and sink floaters and spin in layups. All told, he'd score 22 points in the third quarter, including 14 straight, a nova-like stretch that put the Warriors up 18.
Unfortunately, the team the Warriors were up 18 against was the Spurs. Duncan would leave down 16, and in perhaps a sick joke, Richard Jefferson would come in for the Warriors.
Tony Parker would score eight points in a 16-0 run that brought the Spurs right back, and the Spurs would the lead with a minute left. Although Curry's lights-out performance was brilliant, he'd gotten a lot of buckets against plain isos and on broken plays, leaving the team in a bit of an offensive haze, and it'd miss eight of nine to close the game against stout defense by Kawhi Leonard, who added five points in the run. A Danny Green three would tie the game at 106, Curry couldn't score in iso, and we had overtime.
The Dubs scored the first five there, but San Antonio tied back, and Manu Ginobili couldn't score at the horn. The Spurs got up five with a minute left in double OT, but gave the Warriors an opening when Ginobili rushed a long three with 10 seconds on the shot clock. Kent Bazemore, in the game for defense but left on the court when a San Antonio rebound led to a transition break for the Warriors, finished a tough reverse layup in transition, and the Warriors led 127-126 with three seconds to go.
Of course, Manu happened:
Mike Prada broke down how he got open for the game-winner.
Curry would finish with 44 points with 11 assists, some of them quite pretty, while Tony Parker had 28 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Danny Green drilled six threes to finish with 22 points, as the Spurs finished 13-for-26 from beyond the arc, although Ginobili was just 1-for-8 before the game-winner.
So, yeah, it was a good one. Don't count the Warriors out -- a heartbreaker despite a great effort, sure, but they lost Game 1 of their series against Denver on a game-winner too, and that worked out for them.