1. Tom Thibodeau should win coach of the year for motivating his Bulls to play their most physically fearless game of the season without their fearless leader Joakim Noah. The Bulls mauled the Heat but played within the framework of the unspoken rules of physical, playoff-level defense. These implied rules: whenever LeBron drives to the hoop, make him feel it. When you go up for a rebound, create that space and swallow up that rebound.
2. LeBron James is only 28 years old and can now shoot three-pointers (39.2% this year, up from 36% last year and 33% in 2010-11). The shooting turns this year’s LeBron from the best player in the NBA right now into one of the most dominant players of all-time.
3. Jimmy Butler is to the Chicago Bulls what Avery Bradley is to the Boston Celtics. If either of them could consistently knock down a 15-footer, they would be borderline All-Stars because of their defensive abilities. For more on Butler’s improbable rise from homeless teenager to 30th pick in the 2011 Draft, to his rise to prominence with his relentless drive, read Chad Ford’s 2011 piece on Butler here.
4. I know my view is biased, but for a team to win 27 straight games and have a 56-15 record on the season means that something wasn’t right for those 43 games, when they went 29-14. Some might point to the inevitable psychological let-down after winning a championship. I’m not saying this Miami team has not accomplished a truly astonishing feat by winning 27 straight, but you’d think a team that dominant would win 66-70 games, rather than 64-66.
5. A question for Erik Spoelstra: “How are we supposed to gauge your effectiveness when you have LeBron to coach?”
6. A question for Tom Thibodeau: “Are you more frustrated with the media asking you about Derrick Rose or Derrick Rose himself?”
7. If the Heat don’t win the NBA Finals this year, their season will be viewed as a disappointment, regardless of the fact they just won 27 straight games.
8. Media coverage in the NBA always gravitates towards the biggest media markets, especially when those markets have great teams. It’s a shame San Antonio didn’t get a chance to end the streak on Sunday, as it would highlight just how little media attention they’ve been given this year, and what a disparity there is between the smaller-media-market Western Conference teams that have dominated the regular season and the level of ESPN-fueled exposure given instead to the East Coast teams. In part because of their global focus on scouting, the Spurs have a dedicated international following, but domestically, they are conveniently ignored until April. Don’t ignore Kawhi Leonard this spring.
9. This year, three NBA teams have gone on 15+ winning streaks: Miami’s 27, LA Clippers’ 17, and Denver’s 15-gamer (which few people noticed because it paled in comparison to 27). Denver has also won it’s last 17 games in the Mile High City, a place nobody wants to visit in the playoffs.
10. My favorite streak of the season belongs to the Charlotte Bobcats. They lost 18 straight in November and December, but I’m not sure anyone except Mike Dunlap noticed. The Bobcats not only found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard 18 consecutive times, but they went through a 6-45 over a 51-game stretch. In a sad twist of fate for Celtics fans, the Bobcats ended that historically awful run with a 100-74 defeat of the Celtics on March 12.