Of course, the Bulls didn’t steal the game; in fact, they earned the victory and anyone who says differently didn’t watch the game.
With Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose sidelined with various injuries and Luol Deng bedridden in the hospital, the Bulls put personnel on the floor that usually don’t see to much action, including Marquis Teague and Nazr Mohammed.
As per coach Tom Thibodeau‘s norm, he played his regular rotation to excruciating minutes throughout the game as three players logged more than 40 minutes on the floor. But this isn’t about minutes played — it’s about how the Bulls beat the Heat and will continue to beat them throughout the series.
First, let’s all understand the uphill battle that Chicago had to face; not only were they shorthanded, but they were shorthanded in all the wrong places. With Rose and Hinrich out, point guard Nate Robinson played 40 minutes with Teague collecting the other eight. With Deng hospitalized, Jimmy Butler played the entire 48 minutes.
So not only were the Bulls shorthanded, but they also asked a lot from its players all night long. The determination of this team not only kept them in this ball game, but it led them to the victory at the end of the night.
Many people criticize the Bulls as being a slow tempo team with very little entertainment value, which I agree with to a point. The Bulls are a team that defines versatility and holds true to the motto that defense wins championships. They may not be as entertaining as the Heat to watch but as long as they continue to win, I see no reason to complain.
Chicago fans know what they are getting when they watch the game and they are usually never disappointed.
The determination of this team was pretty clear last night as Butler dropped 21 points and grabbed 14 boards, while Robinson dropped 27 points to lead all scorers. Chicago owned the glass as they out-rebounded Miami 46-32 and held them to 39 percent shooting from the field.
Miami makes a living on penetration and 3-point shooting and just like the New York Knicks, they will loose if they go cold in those areas. That was on display last night as they shot 29 percent from beyond the arc.
But once again, the star of the night was defense for Chicago. They allowed only two players to score in double digits (I’ll let you guess who) and virtually shut down all the big men for Miami, which brings me to the reason why Chicago can beat Miami in this seven game series: big men.
Miami has a lot of names on their roster who can play down low including Chris Anderson, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony and Shane Battier. But, none of these players are traditional down low players like Joakim Noah or Carlos Boozer.
What this means is that while Miami plays around with their idea of “position-less” basketball and letting everyone (mainly Lebron James) run around playing whatever position they like, Chicago has implemented a strategy in which players know exactly where they should be at all times and what they should be doing.
Miami’s lack of post players was such a problem during the regular season (despite their win streak) that it was arguably reason they brought in Anderson in the first place. Regardless, Miami’s front court was exposed last night as Noah and Boozer abused them down low, and I have no reason to expect that to change.
Needless to say, Chicago has had Miami’s number all along this season and if they continue to display the same versatility, adversity and determination that they did last night, they should have no problem reaching the Eastern Conference Finals.