What a unbelievable journey it has been so far. Seven games, four at Madison Square Garden, two in Los Angeles and now the final one in New Jersey. Having caught two transit trains across the Hudson (I got off on the wrong stop first up) I arrive at the Prudential Center. It's actually a nice looking arena from the outside. Aside from the games at MSG this is the game I've been most looking forward to seeing. I wanted to see the big, bad Miami Heat team in person. I wanted to see them in their first year together, it's just something about seeing a potential dynasty form right in front of your eyes, I want to see how they've meshed. If I can tell you one thing for certain it's that TV doesn't always do ball players games justice. You miss a lot of the intricacies and nuances of players. I'm here to see for myself.
I've witnessed (pun intended) LeBron play twice before. Ironically one game was against the New Jersey Nets last year in which he put on an absolute show. Same opponent again, different building and a different team. What will the League's best player have in store for the hapless Nets, losers of their past 5 games. Miami has leap-frogged Boston into outright second spot in the East, having won 8 of their past 10.
Heat at Nets coming up shortly.
I've totally got times confused, game was a 6pm tip off. I make it to courtside just in time for the national anthem. And I literally men courtside. Jealous?
– It's been all Heat so far. Already witnessed a Dwyane Wade to LeBron James alley-oop in the first 2 minutes. A thing of beauty.
– I've never seen a Nets arena so filled. Well, last year at East Rutherford when they played Cleveland. But there's a different feeling this time around.Guess everyone is as intrigued by the Heat as me? Ha!
– LeBron has started aggressively. Hears boos everytime he touches the ball. Last year was different, the Nets fans were hoping they'd land the big free agent and cheered for him. Not so this time.
– Avery Johnson has called two time-outs in the first 3 minutes.
– New Jersey's pick and roll game not as successful against the Heat as it was at Madison Square Garden the other night. The Heat are a very good defensive team and their rotations are great. Erick Dampier is guarding the paint with ferocity.
– Been a clinic from Miami so far. LeBron has 13 points, 2 assists and 3 rebounds.
– No offensive rebounding by Brook Lopez.
– Mike Bibby has started to find his groove with the team. Looks a lot more comfortable in his role.
– Did I mention I'm courtside? Trying to spot Jay-Z. You'd think he'd come out to support his boy LeBron. Oh, and the team he owns as well. Does anyone know if he shows up here for Nets games? Or does he just sit courtside at other arenas?
– I realize it's only the Nets but LeBron is making them look like a junior high team.
– End of the first quarter. Miami lead 32-18. Is it safe to say this game is over already? Nets are getting some good looks though. Ball is just not dropping.
– The Nets are playing so poorly that one fan yells to Deron Williams, "It will get better in Brooklyn Deron, it won't always be like this!"
– New Jersey continue to miss open shots
– Miami extending the lead even with their B team in. Bosh, Ilgauskas, Chalmers, Miller and James Jones. Up 41-20.
– For all you Jordan heads out there, Mike Bibby is wearing the XIII's and D.Wade has the all-black 2011's on.
– One of those things that TV doesn't do justice to is LeBron's passing ability and vision. You can really appreciate how good a passer he is from courtside. (Sorry had to mention it again) You can really see all his angles.
– Time-out New Jersey down 29-45. Seems like only Avery Johnson is calling time-out's.
– Anthony Morrow scores a deuce out the time-out. Nets on a nice little run. Only down 14.
– Until LeBron just ended it.
– LBJ with a one handed, reverse, spinning layup off a Nets turnover. His body control is amazing.
– Quarter ends with a running shot by James, he has 21 points, 4 assists and 5 rebounds. Heat lead 58-44. Interesting note for the quarter, Wade didn't play at all.
– James commits a hard foul on Morrow that takes out the Nets player and a referee. I initially though Bosh committed the foul but then wisely remembered he can't hit that hard.
– New Jersey still can't buy a bucket. Shot 42% in the first half.
– Nets are finally double teaming LeBron as soon as he touches the ball.
– Deron Williams has geared a 6-0 run to start the half. Time-out Miami.
– Brook Lopez has a nice outside touch but really should be backing down Dampier and Bosh. Has a better low post game than both of those guys.
– My god LeBron is quick.
– Dampier just blew a dunk off a pretty LBJ pass. Stop effing up his stats Erick!
– Ok, replay showed Dampier was fouled and wasn't called. I take it back Mr Dampier.
– Time-out Nets, Miami lead 68-56
Three-Quarter time, Miami lead 77-69. New Jersey have made it competitive at least. Should have been a blowout after the first quarter.
– Miami's ball movement isn't fluid this quarter. They've made some poor passes leading to New Jersey fastbreak points.
SIDENOTE : Why do people who sit courtside by the benches spend the whole game texting on their phones?
– There is a spirited chant of defense by the Nets faithful as New Jersey have reduced the deficit to 6. Doesn't last long as Chris Bosh scores in the paint.
– Now it's the Heat's turn to go on a run. Lead back out to 11. 88-77.
– LBJ is 3 assists short of a triple-double. 24 points, 7 assists and 10 rebounds.
– Obvious statement of the night. Deron Williams has a killer crossover. Has put a few defenders on skates tonight.
– 3:54 left in the game. It's safe to say Miami has this one wrapped up. Up 94-79.
– Whoops, spoke too soon. Jordan Farmar has hit 5 quick points to bring the Nets back.
– A LeBron James threefinally puts this one to bed. Lead is 13 again.
– Some fans starting to pile out. 2:49 left.
Game over, Heat win 108-94. LeBron James finishes with 31 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists.
Post game I head to the locker rooms. With apologies to the New Jersey Nets I skip their presser and rooms and head straight to Miami's rooms. First I stop by to hear what Coach Spoelstra has to say before finding my way inside. I'm immediately confronted with the hulking physique of LeBron James. To be honest I don't really hear anything he has to say as I'm still in awe of the sheer size of the man. I manage to get some footage (which you can view here) before I move onto Dwyane Wade who is sitting down and has less media than James around him.
He talks about the push towards the playoffs, you can see that here.