Monday, 16 May 2011

East Finals Game 1: Bulls beat Heat 103-82

Experts? Really, are they still allowed to call them that?

A good 90% of the NBA 'experts' picked the Miami Heat to win this series. Memo, not if the Heat play like this again. They play like this again then this series is only going to have 3 more games.

The Heat are now 0-4 against Chicago this season. I don't see Chicago playing quite as well as Sunday night but they won't need to as this wasn't even close. Miami had just 28 shots in the second half to Chicago's 43. That's a huge plus unseen in the Playoffs. The Bulls were regarded as the better rebounding team though last night was out of this world. Chicago out-rebounded Miami 45-33, 19-6 on the offensive end that resulted in all those extra shots for the Bulls.

Make no mistake, this series is by no way over, but this game fully exposed and humiliated the Heat's weaknesses: Rebounding, size and offensive plays.

Miami came out of the blocks at the start with 2 dunks off Bulls turnovers. It looked like it could be a long night with 9 first-half turnovers for Chicago. Miami led 24-20 after 1 quarter, Bosh with 17 of that 24 on a stellar night for the .5 of the Miami two-and-a-half men. Into the 2nd the Bulls stepped up defensively holding Miami again to 24 points to the Bulls 28 as Gibson hit a run with 7 of 9 Bulls points including a flat-out "get outta my" dunk over Dwyane Wade that electrified an already frenzied crowd. The half ended tied at 48 as the Bulls struggled some to stop the Heat getting points easily.

Wade will be having nightmares
for a little while...
Into the 3rd quarter with the Bulls up 58-57 and this is when things got out of hand. Lebron James had only 2 points in the third quarter as he couldn't hit a thing all night long. The Bulls bench unit completely outplayed their Heat counterparts as Watson, Korver, Brewer and Asik all had standout performances. Watson came in and did a great job hustling after the loose ball, highlighted by a chase-down on a loose ball with 3 seconds left on the shot-clock, CJ turns around, step-back 3 from deep to beat the buzzer. Korver didn't get too hot on his shooting missing a couple wide open before making a three after the game was not a contest, Thibodeau gave him 16 minutes as he did a decent job on Wade in the first half. The Bulls used Korver as the pick with Rose to get Korver more wide open shots against the Heat's terrible defense on the roll. Ronnie Brewer came in and tipped plenty of passes and made one great steal that resulted in 2 Free Throws and a possession after that had Brewer run off the baseline for a dunk. The Heat need to remember that the baseline exists as Brewer was free to move along it all evening.

Omer Asik had a fantastic night. I've yet to see a big man defend the rim and alter so many shots without fouling the shooter. He rebounds at both ends and never has shots blocked as he goes up strong two-handed for the dunk. Taj Gibson as mentioned above was charged up for this game, and his performance was rounded off by a see-to-believe putback dunk over two Heat defenders with hardly any time left in the game.

Erik Spoelstra was out-coached by Thibodeau as Spoelstra inexplicably went small against a Bulls team which has big players who are just as quick as a small, shown when Noah and Gibson blocked Wade and James' jump-shots respectively as they put on a masterclass in staying in front of the attacker.

Game 2 will be crucial in this still-young series as if Chicago can fend off an inevitable James/Wade fight-back and take a 2-0 lead to Miami then they will fully be in control and putting the pressure on the Heat. If the Bulls go in 2-0 up the Heat need to win that third game, as teams 3-0 down have never won the 7-game series (0-99 in history). The Heat will have the pressure of an unforgiving home crowd that could prove more of a burden if things get nasty in Game 3.

The roller-coaster has only just started.

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