Without the Miami Heat‘s best player in LeBron James, this game started extremely slow right out of the gate. Both the Heat and the Chicago Bulls shot under 40 percent by halftime, with the score being just 40-40. What occurred in the second half for Miami is a huge sign of what this team can do defensively when they set their collective minds to it.
Miami forced Chicago into seven 24-second shot clock violations. I repeat, seven shot clock violations. The defensive adjustments coach Erik Spoelstra made at halftime obviously worked. There was a particular lineup of Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Chris Andersen that was especially effective on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, helping Miami balloon the lead at one point to 19 on just turnovers alone.
The Bulls were forced into these shot clock violations by the Heat’s stingy double-team defense, one that forces the ball handler to make a decision quickly in terms of where the ball goes next in the offensive sequence. Since Chicago doesn’t have a playmaker who can score in bunches quickly (Derrick Rose is out for the season, remember?), they faltered once Miami picked up the intensity.
This was a great way for the Heat to start their four-game home stand, and is a huge morale booster for the role players. With James in street clothes for this game, Michael Beasley and Greg Oden saw significant playing time and were able to make an impact, combining for a +7 while on the court. Both players also tallied five points and five rebounds.
Overall, this Miami team is beginning to reach its defensive peak at a perfect time in the season, which is a sign this team is built to flip the switch when necessary. With the light at the end of the tunnel becoming more apparent, this gritty, tough-nosed veteran squad is beginning to round its title-defending defense into form.