Well my prediction on my podcast was off by two points, but not too bad. This game illustrated one of the points I made on the show, and we’ve discussed before. The Bulls have no three point shooting. Salmons and Hinrich were 40% three point shooters last year, but both have been streaky in their careers. So far this year, they’re a combined 5 for 32. The team as a whole is 7 for 43 from behind the arc. Frankly, it’s a miracle they won a game at all shooting that bad from behind the arc, and that they hung in there with the Heat as long as they did.
Another issue I touched on in my podcast was the Bulls not changing the side of the attack on each possession, and that was evident again as the Heat way overplayed the strong side, and the Bulls rarely got the ball over to the weak wide to force the Heat defense to adjust.
The defense played well, forcing a lot of turnovers even if it allowed a good field goal percentage for Miami. The offense was again rather shoddy with Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich being the primary culprits. Neither could throw the ball in the ocean as they were a combined 7 of 27.
What’s sad about this game, was that the Bulls seemed to outplay the Heat for the majority of the game. However, they couldn’t get to the line nor could they hit the 3, so they had no method of efficient scoring, and despite appearing to play much better, could never build a sizable lead.
Deng and Salmons both had good games shooting 11/21 and 7/14 respectively, but both were far better in the first half than the second half as the Bulls struggled to find points in the fourth quarter.
Joakim Noah vastly outplayed his box score, as he had his hands on another six or seven boards on the offensive end that he couldn’t quite tip and control. However, he forced Miami to focus so hard on rebounding when he was in the game that he killed any hope of a fast break for them. There were always at least three guys fighting to keep him off the offensive glass.
Gibson struggled pretty badly out there tonight, and I think he’s going to need to have a solid performance soon or his minutes should be in jeopardy. Tyrus Thomas played pretty solidly, but he appeared to get benched due to a few poor decisions defensively on rotations.
All in all, this game looks like a harbinger of things to come to me. Hard fought games that the team loses due to lack of three point shooting and efficient scoring. It’s just so tough to win games when you’re only getting 2 points on any given possession and teams don’t have to honor your perimeter game.
That being said, the Bulls have played three very tough opponents, two of them on the road, and they’re 1-2. I’m okay with that. I would have given us a 50/50 shot of being 0-3 at this point, and I’d have been shocked for something better. The Bulls need to beat Milwaukee next game though, because they’ve got to go into Cleveland after that.