LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh versus John Lucas, C.J. Watson and Jimmy Butler. On paper, this would appear to be the most obviously lopsided victory in favor of Miami, but on Wednesday night, the Heat walked confidently into the United Center only to get ambushed by the “Bench Mob”.
If you watched the game from anywhere but Chicago, chances were that you did not recognize 75-percent of the Bulls on the court. Coach Thibodeau was constantly switching up his personnel, regularly deploying a wave of no-name players who would attempt to collectively fill the void of their missing MVP. And through scrappy hustle and undeniable heart, that’s just what they did.
Although it was just a regular season game, this unlikely victory had a very similar feeling to that of George Mason’s win over UConn in 2006. Or the Golden State Warriors defeating the Number One Seed Mavericks in the same year. I really wish I could’ve heard Coach Thibodeau ‘s pre-game pep talk, as it had to be nearly identical to that of Rick Moranis’s “One Time” speech in Little Giants.
While this short-handed victory for Chicago was certainly shocking, perhaps more impressive is the fact that all year long the Bulls have managed to not only survive adversity, but thrive within it. Rose, Deng and Hamilton have missed a combined 47-games, and yet the team currently boasts the best record in the NBA. In fact, while so many thought that Chicago was merely a one-trick pony who relied too much on their star, Derrick Rose, the Bulls have actually managed an 8-2 record in his absence. And tonight’s Rose-less victory was their greatest to date.
Chicago’s “bench mob” was obviously ready to step up tonight as they outscored that of Miami’s reserves, to the tune of 56-15. John Lucas III was responsible for 24 of those points, many of them coming in the crucial moments down the stretch. He and Watson did far more then anyone expected of them, as they set out to fill the void left by an injured Rose. The two guards combined for 35 points on just 19 shots, and in doing so, they proved that no matter what the situation, they’re ready to play the role.
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