LeBron James made sure there would be no NBA championship hangover on Tuesday night, leading his Miami Heat in an emphatic 107-95 win over Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls to open the 2013-14 season.
James and his Heat teammates received their championship rings from last season, as noted by ESPN, before putting the league on notice with their first win in pursuit of a three-peat:
LeBron James and the Heat got their championship rings tonight. They also got their first win in their quest for a #ThreePeat.— ESPN (@espn) October 30, 2013
The final score doesn't tell the story of this impressive opening game for King James and his troupe. Miami utilized a swarming defensive attack to stymie Chicago's offense during the first half.
At one point, the Heat went on a 17-0 run and the champions took a 21-point lead into halftime, as noted by the Bulls on Twitter, along with some stark statistical evidence of Miami's defensive prowess:
Chicago wasn't able to make up much ground in the third quarter, outscoring Miami by just one point to give the Heat a 20-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
A sloppy final quarter by Miami allowed the Bulls to pull to within eight points with under three minutes left to play, but there was never any doubt about which team would win this contest after the opening stanza.
James, for his part, seemed to be more concerned with setting the tone on defense and distributing the ball on offense than he was with scoring. He finished the contest with 17 points, six rebounds, eight assists and one steal.
As shown by ESPN Stats & Info, his shot selection was eclectic. He made five of his 11 attempts on the evening:
LeBron James scored 17 points. He spread his scoring out -- at the rim, a deep jumper & some mid-range shots: pic.twitter.com/EgWCgI3A1o— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 30, 2013
His 17 points led an incredibly balanced scoring attack. He was one of seven players who scored at least 11 points for the Heat.
Just as we saw during the team's championship run, Miami is an effective team, and there's no question about James as the leader. When he wants to score, he can, but defensive prowess and focus is the driving force behind his team's success.
One game against a Bulls team that isn't close to being cohesive with Rose back in action after he missed so much time last season doesn't prove anything about what will happen this season.
Will the Heat pull off the three-peat this season?
But James and the Heat did prove that there isn't going to be any let-up after winning two championships in a row.
This team is going to cruise through the regular season and finish as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. There's a better-than-average chance that the Heat will end up in their fourth straight NBA Finals, and nobody should be surprised if the Heat end up as three-peat champions.
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