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LeBron out and the Heat likely not upset
by Sam Smith
Posted on Jan 15
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Well, the Miami Heat won this one Saturday at the United Center.
So the Bulls ought to begin getting ready for the next game with the Heat, Feb. 24 in Chicago.
That’s because LeBron James is not playing in Saturday’s game because of a sprained ankle. James tested it, ostensibly, before the game and about a half hour before the start decided not to play and was listed as inactive.
I suspect that was the plan all along, or likely should have been.
I do feel sorry for the fans here who were looking forward to one of those regular season games that really, really matter. Look, they all count, and, at least for me, they all are entertaining.
And there really are no true statements about the regular season and everything can change in the first playoff game.
But the Bulls were in the psychological catbird seat for Saturday’s game with Joakim Noah out. Even with Miami finishing up a long road trip, the Heat have more talent, especially with Noah sidelined, so it would be a game for the Bulls to take a shot at home, and be in position to say they beat Miami even without Noah.
So what happens when Noah, their second most important player, returns?
And even if the Bulls were to lose–unless it were a complete blowout, which hardly seemed likely with the Bulls at 17-3 before Saturday owning the second best home record in the Eastern Conference—it would be a case of, well, wait until we get to full strength.
Now the tables, if not the court, turns.
Now it’s a no lose for the Heat.
Without LeBron and coming off losses in L.A. and Denver and at the end of a 10-day road trip, the Heat would not be expected to win.
So what would they be able to say if they could defeat the Bulls in Chicago, at the end of a long road trip and without LeBron James?
If they lose, so what, they were supposed to, anyway.
I know teams do not plan things this way, and most are not governed by these kinds of “statements” the media obsesses about.
But it would give the media something to obsess about given every story about LeBron and the Heat becomes a major story. So the theme would be the Bulls cannot be serious contenders if they were to lose to Miami under such circumstances.
I know players don’t view it that way and they understand stuff happens, that you can win a playoff series after losing a game by 40, as has happened in the Finals, and sometimes you just don’t make shots.
What matters is what you bring to the next game.
But you still end up hearing the media buzz these days perhaps more than ever.
Which was why I never thought LeBron had any intention of playing.
But that may be just more media obsession.