Underdog

Underdog

Chris Bosh scored 30 points, pulled 9 rebounds, was 12-18 from the floor, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Odd

The Miami Heat went into Game 1 the favorites to win the Eastern Conference Finals. But the Chicago Bulls had other plans. Coach Tom Thibideau and staff once again did their due diligence in the film room, scouting the Miami Heat to a perfection that can only be seen on defensive instruction videos. The Chicago Bulls crowded the paint and frustrated the Heat for most of the game. Especially LeBron James, who had 15 points on 5-15 shooting. 
Maybe conventional wisdom should be put to the side in situations such as this. LeBron James and Dwayne Wade each combined for a total of 33 points on 12-32 shooting. Luol Deng, Keith Bogans and the entire Bulls roster deserves nods for Defensive Player of the Year for their efforts.
Conventional wisdom also was discredited as Chris Bosh went off against the Bulls. Maybe letting Carlos Boozer's comments about the Heat having only two stars after the Atlanta Hawks series get to his head, Bosh was the Heats leading scorer, rebounder and facilitator of anything positive. Bosh definitely won the battle against fellow power forward Carlos Boozer, putting the rest the notion that the winner of that battle will gravely dictate the game. Bosh was superb (30 points, 9 rebounds, on 12-18 shooting,) and Boozer (14 points, 9 rebounds, on 5-10 shooting) was rather...eh. 
Beyond smothering defense, Bulls second year forward Taj Gibson may have single handedly catapulted the Bulls to mere dominance with his jaw-dropping dunks and aggressive defense.Thumbnail image for taj-gibson-dunk-over-dwayne-wadejpg-2d49638313e4dee2.jpg
Taj had a highlight reel, and-one dunk over Dwayne Wade and a put back dunk that showcased the wingspan of a Condor, igniting the Bulls second unit and pumping up the resting starters. 
Let's not get this mistaken, the Bulls had to win Game 1 at home. Having home court advantage becomes moot once an opponent grabs a win on a teams' home turf. So while the Bulls dominant 21 point performance over the Heat was a savory defeat, it was a necessary defeat as well.
So why am I not as excited after a Game 1 blowout, as I was before the game?

Maybe because I know that Chris Bosh will have more 30 point, 50% plus shooting nights than I will have cosmetic surgery on my earlobe. And maybe it is because I know LeBron James and Dwayne Wade arrived mentally after the 21 point blowout, and they will show up ready to ball out against Rose and the rest of the Bulls squad. 33 points from two of the leagues top 5 players is impressive for the Bulls defense, but nothing less of motivation for Wade and James. 
It is also noted that both Wade and James shot 20% in isolation situations. Thanks to Deng, Brewer, Bogans, Gibson, and overall Chicago Bulls team defense. 
Even though Oprah made enemies with the basketball world by pushing Game 2 to Wednesday, Game 1 is over and it's time to prepare for what the Heat will try to do next.
Here are some things to look for in Game 2:

Faux Bosh
  • Will Chris Bosh be the first to play back to back productive games between himself and Carlos Boozer? 
  • Was his 30 point, 12-18 shooting effort for real, or was it a product of schematic focus on Wade and James?
  • Can he continue to contain Carlos Boozer on offense? Boozer was 1 for 4 shooting from 5ft and back, and 4-6 from underneath the basket. If the Bulls can find Boozer underneath the basket for high percentage shots, and-one's, Chris Bosh will be in for a long night. But Boozer must step up defensively on man-to-man against Bosh. Bosh was 10-12 inside of 15ft, and 2-6 from 4ft and behind. So the same applies for Bosh as it does for Boozer offensively.

The Help

  • Can Taj Gibson replicate that same intensity that he did in Game 1. He will undoubtedly have a target on his back from Dwayne Wade and the Heat. Taj made the Heat look ridiculous all throughout the night and stifled the Heat's half-court offensive with precise defensive slides and big-time blocks. Look for Wade, James and the Heat front-court to attack Gibson and the Bulls defense alot more aggressively than they did in Game 1. Taj hasn't backed down from a challenge in his short but enigmatic two seasons in the NBA, I actually expect a more focused defensive efforts and less shots from the floor. 6 of Taj's 9 points came from his 3 offensive rebounds, making him a mere 1-5 shooting from the floor. Taj played on alot of energy in Game 1, let's hope he didn't use it all up in a nervous first Easter Conference Finals appearance.   
  • The Bulls bench has outplayed most of the competition throughout the season, but none like they way they outplayed the Miami bench in Game 1. The Bulls outscored the Miami bench 27-15 and merely doubled the performance of their opponent in every statistical category (14-7 rebounding, 8-0 assists, 3-1 steals, 2-0 blocks.) No one expects the Bulls bench to take any significant steps back from their performance in Game 1, but the question remains whether or not the Bulls depth will prove to be too much for just the "Big 3" to handle.
The Stars

  • Dwayne Wade never could've envisioned getting posterized by a second stringer, and combining for 33 points with his side-kick LeBron James; to open the Eastern Conference Finals when they decided to join forces in South Beach last summer. So for them to put up a stinker in Chicago, to kick off the biggest series' in their basketball careers has to burn pretty deep. If we are to expect this is the second seed that made the Boston Celtics look like the Sunday morning Boston Market's, than we are also to expect huge performances out of Wade and James. The Bulls will be expecting exactly that.
"As I See It," the Miami heat need a rebound game both literally and figuratively if they want a fighters chance at taking away home-court advantage from the Bulls. And ultimately evening up the series going back to Miami. 
And all the Bulls have to do is play Bulls basketball. Sure feel's good in North Beach right now!


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