New year, same old picture. The Miami Heat once again suffer a regular season loss to the Derek Rose-less Chicago Bulls, giving us flashbacks to what happened all last year. There’s a whole slew of reasons why Miami dropped this one. Intensity of the Bulls and repeated possessions taken off by the Heat, shooting like crap from three point land (25%), and maybe not moving the ball enough to break the Chicago weak side zone.
The Bulls may be the most disciplined, well schooled, best rotating team in the game and they bring their best every night, especially against Miami. They just don’t like it in South Beach. It’s part of the reason they were the top seed in the east last year, and the real reason why they are a playoff team this year. It’s also a reason I don’t want Miami to face them, regardless of what Rose is doing by then.
From the get-go it was a slugfest of a game. There were times when the refs were calling some ticky tack fouls, but other times they missed blatant fouls. Did I just describe every NBA game ever? Yes, yes I did. Back and forth it went, the Heat were unable to truly unleash their athletic terrorism on the grind and grit of CHicago. The Heat and Bulls might not be on the same level in terms of talent with Rose out, but the Bulls play Chicago ball – it’s mean, gritty, often ugly, pyrrhic. Even with the win, it’ll be an uncomfortable, bruised ride back to Chicago. Plus, it’s like 10 degrees in the Windy City. Who really wants to go from Miami to that?
It wasn’t a crazy game, but the Bulls made it a playoff type game. They kept it slow, they took Miami out of the run and gun offense we’ve grown used to in the regular season. It’s what they wanted to do, and to see a team come into Miami and impose their will like that is a little nerve wracking.
You could say it’s a good early test to keep the Heat ready for when the games matter, but it just showed me how awful Ray Allen is on defense and what teams with real size can do to Shane Battier when they don’t play stupid (i.e., putting Serge Ibaka on him). Ray wasn’t hitting threes enough (of course, I expect them all to go in) so he became really useless.
He only attempted two, maybe I’m worked up over nothing, but what is he there for otherwise?. Hopefully Coach Spoelstra will figure something out with him. After all, Tom Thibideau pulls Boozer out on defensive possessions. Maybe the Heat just run too much and Allen’s 10,000 year old legs are a bit sluggish. I was under the impression he was in pristine shape. So much for working out.
For the life of me though, I’ll never understand Carlos Boozer. He played like how he’s paid in this game, 27 points and 12 rebounds, and that as much as anything sunk the Heat. Sure, there was the Wade to James dunk that he stood by and watched, and a defensive possession or 12 he took off, and some borderline unintelligible yelling as a form of defense/teammate encouragement, but he had a great game.
In all the Heat were out-rebounded 48-28, as is the norm, with Boozer actually getting in there and doing some dirty work. Bulls fans are no doubt impressed, as they should be, though whether this is the Carlos they’re going to get in the playoffs is questionable.
The game turning play had to be midway through the fourth quarter, when Nate Robinson drew a charge from Ray Allen on the drive then came back and hit a three on the next possession. With Ray making the shot that wasn’t and his ability to be automatic from the free throw line it was effectively a six point swing and left Miami in a deep hole.
Too many easy buckets and free throws didn’t fall late, and that was the story of the game. It’s the story every time these two meet- the Heat play pretty in the regular season, and the Bulls uglied it up Friday night. That’s life in the NBA. Once again Heat fans are left wanting for a Bulls-like effort and waiting for April. It can’t come soon enough.