I woke up this morning in Dayton, OH with three things on my To Do list today:

  1. Have a meeting with one of my customers that results in some biz-ness – both present and future.  Check.
  2. Try me my first Skyline Chili.  Check*
  3. Hustle back to Chicago so I can get settled in and watch the big Game 2 in the Bulls-Heat series tonight.  Check.

** Skyline Chili?  Not all it’s cracked up to be.  Skyline is a chain of restaurants out of Cincinnati that serves chili on top of pasta (known as their Chili Three-Way) or on top of a hot dog.  It’s really not that good and reminded me a lot of a Coney Dog in Detroit – A lot of hype built around a crappy end product.  If you’ve never been save yourself the trip.

So having achieved all three objectives I’m back home, Spotted Cow in hand and ready for a full running diary of tonight’s game 2 – the game I would deem will determine the outcome of the series.  I think it’s going to be close either way but if the Heat win, they’ve done their job and spit these first two games in Chicago.  If the Bulls win they take command of the series and are in the catbird seat from here on out.  With that said, let’s get it on.

7:30p: What!?  TNT does show the rousing National Anthem by Jim Cornelison?  Get your act together boys.  Take a page from the NHL and if you want to get your viewing audience into your broadcast from the outset just let the Chicago fans drive from here.

7:35: After a full afternoon in the car driving back from Dayton listening to sports talk radio (did you know you can get a fuzzy signal from ESPN1000 in Ohio?) I’m chalk full of hype for this game.  The big topic of conversation today was what will the Heat do with their starting lineup?  After not dressing Zydrunis Ilgoskus (I’m not even going to spell check that) in Game 1, with him being their starting center all year, would they go back to the formula that got them 58 wins during the regular season?  Nope.  The Heat trot out the same 5 from Game 1.  Big Z isn’t dressed again tonight and will watch the game in street clothes.  That topic filled about three hours of my drive back today.  Very anticlimactic. 

7:45: I want to go on record now that I think Keith Bogans is going to be a silent assassin tonight.  I was thinking that prior to his scoring 5 straight points.  I swear.

7:48: The other topic that filled two hours of sports radio this afternoon: LeBron Jame’s head cold.  What’s that LeBron?  You have the sniffles?  Wanna know what I have to say to that?  WAAAAAAAAA!!!

7:52: NBA/WNBA cross marketing, gotta love it.  When Kevin Durant needs to tell your living room that, “basketball is basketball” isn’t he essentially admitting just the opposite?  Maybe he had his fingers crossed.

7:54:  LOUL DENG!  Finishes emphatically after the missed James alley-oop at the other end.  Why is there not a guy with courtside seats that dresses as Napolean Dynomite with a sign that just says, “Deng!”?  This needs to happen.

7:57: Bulls are winning the rebounding battle, passing well and moving the ball, and Joel Anthony has two early fouls.  Things are looking up… seconds later Derrick Rose picks up his second foul and heads to the bench.  Damn you jinxes. 

8:03: Can your 7 foot center steal the ball on defense and then lead a fast break and finish at the other end?  Mine can.

8:05: Juwan Howard makes an appearance.  Keep putting off that Social Security check Juwan.

8:09: The crowd gives Taj Gibson and Omer Asik a nice hand as they enter the game.  It may be getting close to summer but Chicago still has class.

8:10: Deng hits a half court shot as the first quarter expires.  Derrick Rose may want to start passing before taking those full court heaves at the end of each quarter.  Some guy wrote into KC Johnson’s mailbag on Chicagotribune.com a couple weeks ago analyzing what Rose’s shooting and three point percentage would be if he didn’t take his end of quarter heaves and it legitimately would improve his percentages by 2-3 points.  Apparently Deng has that shot in his arsenal.

8:13: Welcome to the conspiracy world of the NBA as the Bulls get called for 4 fouls in the first 45 seconds of the second quarter.  One would not need to exert much effort to explain how the NBA league offices would prefer this series go as many games as it can.  One way to ensure that is to make sure the fouls are eschewed in Miami’s favor if the game appears to be getting away from them.  I’m just saying…

8:21: The Heat are doing a good job of pressuring Derrick Rose when he has the ball and getting it out of his hands.  This game is going to be decided by the rest of the Bulls roster – slots 2 thru 12.

8:24: Call me crazy but does Eric Spolestra (the Heat’s coach) look like the kid that fed his Mogwi after midnight?

8:26: I heard someone today describe Kyle Korver as ‘Ashton Kutcher meets Justin Bieber.”  I’d throw just a bit of Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer in there as well (the eyebrows and cranial ridge) but otherwise think that’s pretty spot on.  As long as he keeps raining threes he can look like Sloth for all I care.  

8:39: This real-time jinx thing is not cool.  In the past 13 minutes Kyle Korver has attempted roughly 12 more three pointers and clanged them all.  Not cool

8:40: At the half the Bulls trail 48-46.  So basically if last game repeats itself (they were tied at 48 in Game 1) the Bulls will only win by 19 tonight right?  If I’m conscious of, and talk about the jinx it doesn’t go into effect right?  More importantly John Jurkovic’s (of ESPN1000 fame) rule of keeping Miami’s Big Three under 80 points combined for the game is intact.  Basically his theory boils down to LeBron James can score 50 for all Jurko cares as long as you keep Wade and Bosh under 30 combined.  If the Big Three’s point total sums to 80 or more the Bulls are in trouble, 79 or less and they game is theirs.  I agree with this logic.  The TNT halftime crew notes that the Bulls are shooting 38% (compared to Miami’s 52%) in the first half and are only down two points.  I’m not sweating and neither should the Bulls.  Now if we can just get some of that patented after halftime lockdown defense we’ll be all set.

9:03: Aaaaaaaaaaannnnnd…. We’re back.

9:05: Derrick is starting to find his rhythm but needs to be finishing in the paint and drawing fouls.  As soon as I finished typing that Steve Kerr almost word for word made the same point.  You know he and I have never been photo’d together either, kind of like Clark Kent and Superman.  How do you know Steve and I are not the same person?

9:12: If both teams play the ‘No One Believes In Us’ card, how do the karma Gods know who to root for?

9:14: LeBron James is currently 2 of 6 from the free throw line.  It’s funny how no one has ever questioned his abilities in clutch situations.  Oh wait… everyone questions that.

9:18: There is no rhythm to the game right now.  The crowd is sitting on their hands, there are a lot of whistles, Derrick is not finishing at the rim.  We need a spark right about now.

9:21: …and the Heat promptly run off 8 straight points to take a 65-56 lead.  Maybe I’ll take a break for a few minutes…

9:31: Ok, I see how it’s going to be with this jinx.  So be it.  Let me just say how great Udonis Haslem is playing tonight and how happy the Heat must be to have him back in the fold.  I hope he keeps this up for the rest of the series.

Miami is up 71-65 at the end of three.

9:37: In other news… this is the woman you chose to cheat on your wife with Arnold?  Sure Maria Shriver can look a bit like Skeletor but still… Mildred?  Really?

9:40: The Bulls appear to be ready to make their run coming out in the fourth.  The crowd has a bit of electricity to it.  I’ll say no more.

9:41: Using the Jurko Corollary I’d like to point out the Three-Best-Friends-That-Anyone-Could-Have have a combined 51 points starting the quarter.  I swear I’m done.

9:42: Derrick, MVPs make their free throws.  Just want to put that out there.

9:48: Taj Gibson ties the game at 73 on a nice feed from Rose with 6:45 left.  This is going to boil down to whose stars can close.  We’re either going to be talking about how LeBron and Wade choked or how they carried their team at the end tomorrow morning around the water cooler.  It can only go two ways.  It’s what they signed up for last summer so deal with it.

 9:51: I’m just going to come out and say it… I like Mike’s Hard Lemonade.  It’s delicious.  God that’s a weight off my shoulders.

9:53: OMER!!!!!!!!!  Asik and Destroy!  Wade just ran into the Turkish Hammer.  Can you tell I miss Stacey King calling these games?

9:57: Mike Miller is what happens when white people’s tattoos go bad.

9:58: It was nice of the officials to allow Dwayne Wade some extra time at the timeout to get his bleeding elbow resolved.  I get the sense Omer would not have been afforded the same luxury.

9:59: James hits a long three with under 4 minutes left.  Didn’t see that coming.  Next possession he gets Rose in the air and pops for two more.  78-73 Heat with 3:15 left.

10:04: James ballfakes and travels.  That’s the LeBron we know.

10:05: We are experiencing The Rise of Taj.  78-75 Heat with 2 minutes left.

10:07: Wade gets a touch foul and makes both free throws, the Bulls turn it over on the other end and James comes down and scores, followed by a Derrick Rose airball.  82-75 Heat with a minute left.  It’s not looking like our night here.

10:08: James hits a long two as the shot clock expires and it’s 84-75 Heat.  I hear the weather is nice in Miami.

10:09: Do you get the sense these Miller Lite Lifeguard commercials are underachieving?  Me too.  It’s pretty hard to screw up hot chicks in bathing suits and beer but the folks at Miller are pulling it off.  I assume they’ve committed to this campaign all summer so at least we have that to look forward to.

And that’s a ballgame.  85-75 Heat.  The Bulls just never got things going, particularly Derrick Rose’s lack of finishing at the rim and Kyle Korver’s outside shot, and the Heat were able to close it out when it mattered.  It pains me to say it but Udonis Haslem brought the grit and grinder mentality the Heat have lacked all season.  We’ve got a series on our hands Chicago.  So what did we learn today?

  1. Jurko’s Corollary is crap
  2. Skyline Chili sucks
  3. Zydrunus Ilgauskus’ involvement does not matter.  Udonis Haslem’s involvement does.
  4. Running game blogs during the playoff are a bad idea (I’ll note the Bulls were 2-0 during regular season running blogs but I digress).

Thanks for reading and I look forward to catching you up on my thoughts after Sundays Game 3.