Last night the Chicago Bulls did the seemingly impossible by ending Miami Heat’s illustrious 27-game winning streak. A lot of people wanted to see Miami top the NBA record set by the 1971 Los Angeles Lakers at 33 straight victories, but was the loss to the Bulls actually a relief?
There is no question the Bulls deserved the win. Despite being short-handed, missing Joakim Noah, Marco Belinelli and Derrick Rose, they outworked Miami in almost every way imaginable. Everyone stepped up for Chicago, fueled by the incentive of busting the streak and bringing the NBA champions back to planet earth.
What was most impressive with the Bulls’ performance was their suffocating defense. Even without their defensive anchor in Noah, they contested almost every shot and took the Heat out of their comfort zone. Most importantly, the Bulls were not going to give up anything for free. By fouling LeBron James and Dwyane Wade hard, they got into their heads. James was clearly frustrated as he was whistled for his first flagrant foul since 2007.
However, with the streak out of the way, Miami can now breathe easier. The ultimate goal is to win a championship, and the pressure of trying to make regular season history has certainly played a factor lately.
Now that the pressure is of Miami’s shoulders, they no longer have to win games that are irrelevant in the wider context. The Heat will go into the Eastern Conference playoffs as the first seed and will have the opportunity to rest players in the final stretch of the season.
Vytis is a Miami Heat and NBA columnist for RantSports. You can follow him on Twitter here: @VytisLasaitis