Five Thoughts on the Hawks Equalizing with the Heat:
1. Did anyone else feel a little skeptical that Dwyane Wade was struggling though a bad game, then his coach magically asserted that his back was bothering him, at which point Wade went off in the fourth quarter? Then, with 90 seconds to go and the Hawks having beaten back the Heat's rally, Wade initiates a little contact with Joe Johnson and all of a sudden his back is hurting again? So, just so we're clear, Wade's back hurts when he's playing poorly and then when the game is over, but it's fine when he's hitting shots left and right to lead a rally.
2. Someone should put the fourth quarter into a time capsule so future generations will know the Platonic ideal of a Josh Smith performance. One minute, he's hoisting up a 22-footer with 18 seconds left on the shot clock when the Heat had narrowed the deficit to nine points. The next minute, he's flying after an offensive rebound and then hitting a cutting Flip Murray as Smith is falling out of bounds. The former play is easily correctable and obviously dumb, yet Smith keeps making it. The latter play involved athleticism, hustle, and terrific basketball smarts to know exactly where his teammate was. They were made by the same player.
3. The most ominous development this series: Jermaine O'Neal is playing well. I'd normally feel good about a best-of-three with two of the three games at Philips, but O'Neal giving Miami a post threat and a jump shooter to go with Wade is a problem.
4. Tonight's game was the 86th of the season. Back when this march began in November, it was assumed that the Hawks' bench would be the team's weakness. Tonight, in a must-win game in late April, the Hawks' crunch time lineup included two members of the allegedly soft bench: Flip Murray and Zaza Pachulia. Those two were instrumental in the win, combining for 23 points and 23 rebounds. Meanwhile, Miami's bench contributed a whopping two points.
5. I dislike everything about Miami. I don't like the people who live there, a collection of schmucks who have all of the obnoxiousness of New Yorkers without any of the taste. I wouldn't put the '72 Dolphins in the top five NFL teams of the Super Bowl era and yet they're on my TV every fall. I resent the travesty that was the 2006 Finals. And now, I'll add to my disdain the way the Heat play basketball. I'm not sure what James Naismith had in mind when he invented the game, but I'm pretty sure that it wasn't every fourth quarter offensive possession consisting of an isolation up top for one player. I've said it before and I'll say it again: this is a series between a player and team. For the sake of basketball and humanity, the team should win...so the Hawks rather than the Heat can have the honor of losing in five to the Cavs.