MIAMI — As the Game 2 score mounted — 5-0, 18-2, 25-8 — and LeBron kept scoring on muscle drives, and Dwyane Wade kept hitting impossible fallaways, and Chris Bosh kept cleaning up the boards, you realized what you were seeing.
Fear and dread come to life. This is what fostered all the angst. This was what wrought all the hand-wringing.
This is why basketball purists and most NBA executives and maybe more players than will admit foresaw horror to come. Three players this good would not just tip, but tip over, what little competitive balance existed in pro basketball.
The Heatles? The Unbeatables is more like it.
That's what Miami seemed to be for most of Game 2, though a vaunted Thunder rally made it close at the end, 100-96.
But now the Thunder's chase for an ahead-of-schedule NBA title has gotten much more difficult. If the Heat's Big Three play like this, then the Heat is who we thought it was when LeBron jumped on board and announced his goal of at least seven championships.
LeBron always has been great. He's criticized more than Congress, though he outperforms the politicos by a mile. He's always a difference-maker of the highest order.
But the greatness of Wade and Bosh has been come-and-go. Wade appears beat-up; appears to have begun the slow slide to mortality. Like Charles Barkley says, Father Time is unbeaten. Bosh has been injured; he missed big chunks of the Indiana and Boston series with an abdominal injury.
There was no sign of physical limitation in Game 2. Wade turned back the clock; it was 2006 all over again. He scored 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting, with six rebounds and five assists. Bosh had 16 points and 15 rebounds.
Both Wade and Bosh appeared drab in Game 1. They were vibrant in Game 2.
“We're glad he's back playing his regular minutes, and that's going to be key for us the rest of the way,” Wade said of Bosh.
“I know my abilities, I know what I'm capable of, and it was good. It gave me an opportunity to go back and look and see what I can get better at and pick my spots more.”