O’Neal got Noah into early foul trouble and Bulls backup center Brad Miller had a tough time too, getting dropped twice as O’Neal bulled his way to the hoop. After one encounter, Miller had to go to the locker room to clean up a bloody lip.
“It’s not the first one I’ve gotten from him,” said Miller, who has battled O’Neal for 12 years and has the scars to prove it. “He’s still Shaq, but I tell all these guys all the time, you should have seen what he was like a few years ago. Every possession underneath, it was bang, bang.”
Noah had an ice bag strapped to his back after practice, an injury he blamed on Garnett but one that’s unlikely to improve much against the massive O’Neal, who made Noah look silly with a baseline spin move and dunk. O’Neal looked fresh after missing 23 games.
“Hopefully he wears himself down. He’s tough, man,” said Noah, admitting there’s a physical toll to be paid when O’Neal is your assignment. “It’s as hard as it looks.”
Noah mimicked Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro’s assertion that the Bulls have to do a better job rebounding. The Cavs had a 50-38 advantage and got 13 offensive boards, leading to easy baskets and extra possessions.
“It was a great learning experience for us, and this team has a good vibe,” Noah said. “They are a very good team. But we want to come out and hopefully get a win on Monday.”
The Bulls and Cavaliers didn’t exchange any flagrant elbows, but there was plenty of other extracurricular activities in Game 1.
Miller and James got technicals after a hard foul. James jawed with Luol Deng and Noah was booed every time he touched the ball by Cleveland fans, who didn’t appreciate him challenging James earlier this season for dancing on the sideline during a game. Then, as the playoffs approached, Noah proclaimed the Bulls were “going to try to shock the world” against the heavily favored Cavs.
Noah doesn’t seem to mind being targeted by angry Cavs fans. They don’t like him, and the feeling appears mutual.
His comments about Garnett could have helped soften his image and endear him to some Clevelanders, but then he decided to throw an elbow at their city.
“I don’t know about Cleveland, man, there’s nothing going on,” Noah said when asked how he might spend the remainder of a chilly, cloudy day downtown. “It’s bad.”
PBT: The Spurs saw the NBA title slip through their fingers Tuesday night. Do they have it in them to rebound from their meltdown in time for Game 7?
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Heat forward Chris Bosh talks about what could be a very physical Game 6 stating, "Hit them in the mouth, throat and their eyes." Miami coach Erik Spoelstra says the opposing Spurs "attack you ... but we do the same thing."
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