Heat play up physicality level versus Bulls

Unlike their counterparts in the Western Conference finals, the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder, scoring has been tough to come by for the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat through the first two games of the best-of-seven which resumes Sunday night in Miami.

The Heat averaged 83 and a half points per game the first two games, while the Bulls averaged 89, though the Bulls scored just 75 points on Wednesday in Game 2.

Why has the scoring been so low, with the scoreboard looking like games between the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs in the 2005 NBA Finals?

The level of physicality, say the Heat.

“I think when you see all the ice packs on everybody after the game and
see guys laboring to get on the bus, you see how physical of a series it
is,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said to Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel. “Fortunately, we were able to have some days to recuperate.”

The three days between games does seem to suit the Heat’s roster better, as Game 2 hero Udonis Haslem received time to rest his surgically-repaired left foot and prepare for what the Heat hope is another strong effort from the forward.

But besides that, there really isn’t much to the three-day layoff besides the fact that it truly does stink for both teams. These long breaks are never fun, though with both teams in South Florida on Saturday night, you never know.

However, the notion that Spoelstra brings up — that this series is physical — is interesting. Both teams have found it troubling to score at times, though that comes with the territory as the Bulls and Heat were two of the best teams defensively during the regular-season.

Still, the theory of this series being physical is silly. There isn’t anything physical about it. There isn’t any chippy play, hard fouls or much yapping between the two teams.

Heck, the Bulls were tested physically — and mentally — versus the Indiana Pacers in round one more than the Heat.

That’s no knock on the Heat, who outrebounded the Bulls 45-41 in Game 2 after being outrebounded 45-33 in Game 1. They’re simply not a physical team. Haslem provides some toughness mentally to the Heat, as Dwyane Wade and LeBron James quickly gave him praise after Game 2, though he isn’t much of a physical enforcer.

Chris Bosh won’t give a hard foul anytime soon. James won’t, either. Wade may, though as a superstar playing in the Conference finals, he won’t risk missing a game for a stupid, cheap foul.

The hardest foul given by either side this series was Jamaal Magloire’s foul on Derrick Rose in Game 1, however, compared to the ones delivered by Tyler Hansbrough, Roy Hibbert and Josh McRoberts in the first round, it was nothing. And Rose laughed off Magloire’s cheap-shot foul and calmly headed to the free-throw line.

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The Heat are saying the Eastern Conference finals have been ‘very physical.’ Low-scoring games don’t always mean that, though.

“They’re very physical,” Wade said, “and I’m sure both teams, between
games, are in the ice tub, trying to get their bodies ready for the next

There is nothing physical about these Heat. But the Bulls haven’t played physical either, nor have they all season. Even in the first round with hard fouls delivered to Rose each game, it took the Bulls five games to retaliate — and even the retaliation fouls weren’t as hard as the Pacers’ initial fouls.

“It’s very physical,” Wade said on Saturday. “I was talking the other day, I said, ‘I
don’t remember when I was younger, was it as physical as it is now?’
Obviously, Detroit was a physical team, but this is a very physical
series. I mean, this is a grind-out series.”

Yes, this series is quite the grind-out, as both teams are finding it tough to hit shots — for the Bulls, open shots. But for the Heat to play up the physicality level of the series is baffling.

The Heat may be alluding to the final score of Game 2 — 85-75 — to justify their claims. But just because games are low-scoring, they are physical?

That’s what the Heat are trying to sell. And it’s a really bad claim.

LeBron James and company are feeling the heat (no pun intended). They know what this series means for their legacy, and they’re taking advantage of the low-scoring affair with the Bulls to boast claims that this series is something that it really isn’t: physical.

Yeah, it hurts to get slapped on the right arm on a layup attempt. Oh, but that’s physicality, right?

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