The memory of Game 5 is still alive in the minds of die-hard Chicago Bulls fans. From the start it looked like a potential blowout for the Miami Heat, similar to Game 2 of the series. The Bulls were trailing the Heat 22-4 just past the midpoint of the first quarter. Then Nate Robinson gave his teammates a very insistent pep talk, flailing his hands and pounding his fist Nate-fashion in the middle of the floor at the American Airlines Arena, and the Bulls stopped their sleepwalking.
Carlos Boozer and Jimmy Butler were dominant early, and somehow the Bulls players morphed into the Game 1 team that had stopped the Miami Heat in their tracks. In the following 13 minutes, the Bulls turned the game around with a 34-14 run and by half-time the Bulls were ahead by six points.
But then it happened. Chicago native Dwayne Wade decided to “go Superman” when he left the court between the third and fourth quarters to change his knee bandage or Adidas or something. He might as well have changed into his cape because it was his fourth-quarter spurt that sparked Miami’s comeback.
Sadly, the Bulls fate had been sealed. Trailing 94-91 on their final possession, the undermanned Bulls were burned by the Heat, unable to tie the game for an overtime bid. But what if:
What if coach Tom Thibodeau had called a timeout and not gone with the open court scramble with 1:43 left, giving the Bulls time to regroup and set up a final play?
What if Marco Belinelli had been called into the game to save the day with one of his miraculous three-point shots?
What if any of the Bulls had made the game-tying 3-point shot, forcing an OT and then maybe another and then …
If any one of these “what ifs” had actually occurred, the Miami Heat would be in Chicago right now heading back to the United Center for Game 6. In reality, the Bulls have cleaned out their lockers at the Berto Center. In reality, they almost had enough to win.
As for next year, Boozer told reporters at the end of Game 5, “If everyone’s healthy, we can be scary.”
Hopefully, that becomes a reality too.
Hollie M. Woods is a writer for Rant Sports covering the Chicago Bulls and the NBA. “Like” her on Facebook.