The Celtics and Bulls played seven overtimes over their seven games. The Hawks and Heat haven’t yet seen a second-half lead change. Think about that. Think about a series that has gone the distance but done nothing to stir the senses. (Unless you’re the sort who gets miffed over a missed dunk in a 20-point game.)
Fun with numbers: The Hawks have won three games, each by double figures, and have been outscored by 19 points in the series. They won Game 1 by 26 points and lost Game 6 by 26. (And let’s try to forget Game 3, in which the margin was 29.)
In sum, it has been a series to forget, but that will change today. Because somebody’s going to win this thing, and somebody’s going to remember it. Somebody’s going to be chasing LeBron James in Round 2. And I’m thinking, as I mentioned yesterday, it’ll be the Hawks.
Note the score I predicted. (Note also that, as most of you know, I’m never right about anything.) I said 82-77, which means I believe that finally — finally! — we’re about to get a good game.
Big injury news! According to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, Jermaine O’Neal “absolutely” isn’t playing. Miami’s doctors are holding him out for a second consecutive game. If you watch the video below, you’ll see Mike Woodson’s reaction to this development. You’ll see that he’s … just watch the thing.
Big injury news! (Part 2) Al Horford is starting, as Woodson said he would. And Marvin Williams won’t start but will play.
I saw Horfy — I call him Horfy, and you should, too — in the locker room. As he got up from his chair, I asked if he could walk.
Horfy, laughing: “Can I walk?”
(Given that he was walking as he spoke, it probably wasn’t the greatest question of my undistinguished career.)
MB: “OK, can you run?”
Horfy, still smiling: “I’ll be all right.”
Heaters in the house: Mickey Arison, the Heat owner who’s richer than Ted Turner, was sitting courtside watching his players warm up 80 minutes before tip time. (Arison owns Carnival Cruise Lines, which means he was once Kathie Lee Gifford’s employer.) And Pat Riley, whom I know well from our University of Kentucky alumni meetings, just walked by me in the corridor.
Radio gaga: Just saw John Crotty, the former Virginia guard — who outplayed Mookie Blaylock of Oklahoma in a memorable Sweet 16 game in 1989 — and asked him why he and Heat radio partner Mike Inglis never make headlines like Steve Holman. Crotty laughed. (For reasons unclear, I’m making people laugh this morning.)
If anything, the Heat guys (Inglis in particular) tend to go the other way. They’ll rip their club. I listened to a Hawks-Heat game in January via Sirius XM and couldn’t believe how negative Inglis was. And the Heat led wire to wire! (Hmmm. Sounds familiar.)
And what, you’re asking, about Spirit the Hawk? We exchanged Tweets yesterday. I asked if he’d be here for Game 7, and this was his Twittered response:
“I’ll be at Game 7 and will TRY to swoop into your press perch in the sky. But lately I don’t like to be waaaaaaay up there…Heat rises.”
I’m telling you, this is the funniest bird since Tweetie Pie.
Whoa, wait a second! Remember Spoelstra saying O’Neal wasn’t playing? The official sheet just was issued, and O’Neal is listed as active!
We in the press room are going wild over this, and I should report that we smell the dastardly hand of Pat Riley behind it all.
The starting lineups haven’t been released. You’ll be advised as soon as they are.