While Miami Heat star LeBron James experienced a cathartic moment last week after getting past the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals, James' reaction may have been a bit premature.
James' opponent in the Conference finals is the Chicago Bulls, coached by former Celtics' defensive guru Tom Thibodeau. So was it any coincidence that James hit 5 for 15 from the field and committed four turnovers in the Bulls' 103-82 victory Sunday night in Game 1?
James and Dwyane Wade combined to shoot 12 of 32 from the field and commit half of the Heat's 18 turnovers. James finished with 15 points, six rebounds and six assists.
His numbers were strangely reminiscent of his mysterious performance in the Cleveland Cavaliers' 120-88 loss to the Boston Celticsc in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semis in 2010. In that one, James finished with 15 points (on 3 of 14 shooting), six rebounds and seven assists. He committed three turnovers and missed his first seven attempts from the field.
Before Thibodeau coached from 2007-10 in Boston, he spent 2003-07 with the Houston Rockets. James' Cavs went 2-6 against the Rockets when Thibodeau was an assistant there, with one of the victories coming in overtime.
While Sunday's game set the tone for the Bulls, who outhustled the Heat for a 19-6 edge on the offensive boards, it's not going to mean the Heat are going to go meekly. But it made me wonder if it is Thibodeau who has James' number, not the Celtics.
(And if the Heat-Bulls series comes down to a Game 7, I'll take Thibodeau over Erik Spoelstra any day.)
More thoughts from the weekend: