The best thing about the Bulls victory over the Heat is that there was no choke by Miami. There was no gaffe. There was no holding back. By the end of the game every trick they've tried on Derrick Rose was used on John Lucas; double team 40 feet from the basket, trap on the pick and roll, and even LeBron taking the assignment. The Heat couldn't stop John Lucas who played the best game of his life, and the Bulls went on to win.
I wasn't entirely shocked to see Chicago beat Miami, but I thought in order to beat them it would require Miami to choke and play a poor game. Quite simply that didn't happen. Dwyane Wade may have played his best game against Chicago in his career. If not, certainly the best one in my memory. Down the stretch Dwayne Wade shot 8 of 9 including two made threes and also hit both free throw attempts to give him 20 points in the final eight.
Overall, the Heat scored nearly every possession down the floor in an attempt to mount a furious comeback. James Jones even hit Miami's first two desperation three attempts with 18 seconds to play with Chicago clinging to a six point lead to keep the pressure on.
The Bulls would not fold. John Lucas hit shot after shot for Chicago, and in the end game, the Bulls eschewed their common practice of splitting free throws and knocked down all six at the end. The only thing that didn't go well for the Heat was Chris Bosh hitting just 3 of 15 shots, but he took a lot of tough looks, and his poor play was offset by LeBron/Wade hitting 30 of 51 shots from the field.
Next man steps up
John Lucas does not play a pretty style of basketball, but he knew he had to come in and score. The rest of the Bulls simply weren't doing it. Down the stretch Lucas hit three shots in a row where the ball never left his hand before being aimed at the rim. All three were high level of difficulty shots and with no ball movement, it was the type of offense that would have caused you to scream at your TV in frustration if he missed.
For awhile it looked like Miami would easily beat the Bulls simply by trapping Lucas, but when they stepped up to trap him, Chicago got the ball out of his hands and was able to hit shots or get the ball up on the rim and get offensive rebounds. As noted above, Miami didn't fade down the stretch, but rather made a furious charge. The Bulls held them off by repeatedly scoring themselves.
Luol Deng played some great D despite getting torched
If you looked at LeBron's box score, you'd figure that Luol Deng didn't show up to play defense. You'd have figured wrong. Deng forced LeBron to shoot almost exclusively fadeaway jump shots, but the problem is that LeBron knocked almost all of them down. For those looking for a LeBron post game and saying if he really wanted to win a championship he'd develop one, well now you've seen it.
LeBron simply posted up Deng all night long and spun into turn around fadeaway jumpers. There was nothing anyone could do to stop it except be content that you forced him into a difficult shot rather than allowing a dunk. However, if LeBron can keep that play going on in the playoffs, Miami will be awfully tough to beat. Especially if Bosh shows up next time.
On offense, Luol didn't provide much of anything. He knocked down some three point shots, but struggled to help create anything with Rose out of the game and finished just four for 13 from the field. At least three of his makes were from the three point line.
Carlos Boozer looks helpless against Bosh
He was 1 for 4 in 27 minutes, and he couldn't even get a quality shot off. In this game, Chicago saw how completely reliant Boozer's game is on Derrick Rose. He couldn't create on Bosh to save his life and during most of his minutes the Heat were playing straight up defense on everyone rather than trapping hard on the PG like they would with Rose in the game. The result was no open jumpers for Boozer, no easy slip screen shots at the rim. No offense from him for Chicago.
Boozer's a quality offensive player in terms of scoring when given an opportunity, but he's a Korver like presence in that he's fairly easy to keep a handle on as long as the opponent keeps a body on him.
I'll give Boozer credit for making quality reads and not forcing the issue though. He moved the ball around and while he didn't give the Bulls what they're hoping he'd give them on offense, at least he didn't jack up a bunch of heavily contested shots that missed. He simply moved the ball. It wasn't a horrific performance in that sense, but it's just disappointing that Chicago didn't get more out of him with Rose out.
Dominate the glass, dominate the game
The Bulls had to play at the top of their game in many areas to get this win, but one of them was certainly on the offensive glass. Down the stretch of the game, the Bulls had several possessions where they had key offensive rebounds. Noah had a put back to build the Bulls lead to eight with just over two minutes to go, and Ronnie Brewer grabbed an offensive board with 18 seconds left and a four point lead which sealed the game for Chicago after they knocked down the free throws.
Overall, Chicago's 14 offensive boards to Miami's 11 doesn't seem that gaudy, but the Bulls had 14 offensive boards on 31 missed shots to Miami's 11 on 37. Chicago needed those second chance points without having as crisp an offense as the Heat.
Taj Gibson re-enacts the Bulls BIG commerical
He had one of those on Dwyane Wade in the first half, and it was awesome. Gibson overall didn't play enough in my opinion, especially given how well they played while he was in the game and how flat Boozer was on the night. He gave the Bulls a lift on the offensive glass and knocked down a couple shots for the Bulls while in the game.
Overall, the bench mob did a fantastic job on the night, Omer Asik played well on defense as did Jimmy Butler who looked better than his one for five stat line suggests.
Best part about the win was Miami played great
I don't know that this was the Heat's best game, in fact, I'm fairly certain it wasn't. However, they swarmed on defense. They scored incredibly efficiently in the fourth, and overall, played a very good game. The Bulls were just better. They were missing Rose, but that's sort of irrelevant. They scored 35 points on 12 of 19 shooting from the PG position. Would Rose have really given them more? On this night, the odds are that he'd have given them less.
However, both teams knocked down threes. Both teams hit their free throws. Both teams scored efficiently and hit tough shots all night long. It wasn't a slop fest. It wasn't a game where the Bulls grimied their way into a win against a cocky Heat team. They traded punches with Miami and put them on the floor. It was a win to be proud of.