Break up the Chicago Bulls! 48 hours after an inspiring Game 7 road win in Brooklyn, the severely short-handed Bulls caught the Miami Heat napping on their home floor and pulled out a shocking 93-86 victory. Nate Robinson, as has become customary during these playoffs, led the fourth-quarter charge. Chicago outscored Miami 35-24, including a 10-0 run to end the game (the last seven from Robinson). The Heat have now gone 41-3 over their last 44 games, however, two of those losses, were against the Bulls.
How did they do it?
The Bulls, despite missing Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich, Richard Hamilton, and Luol Deng, were still able to dominate the paint. Chicago out-rebounded the league’s worst rebounding squad, 46-32, while they also scored more in the paint (40-32). Tom Thibodeau’s suffocating defense also limited the league’s #1 shooting team (in terms of FG%), to sub-40% shooting.
Yes, but HOW?!?
In all honesty, I’m in awe of how Thibodeau is able to get his team to play to their fullest capabilities. With Marquis Teague, Nazr Mohammed, and Daequan Cook providing 16 minutes combined, the Bulls basically had a six-man rotation. Jimmy Butler played all 48 minutes (for the third consecutive game!), pitching in with 21 points and 14 boards.
What does this mean?
During the LeBron/Wade/Bosh era, the Heat have lost Game One twice. In both instances, Miami came back to sweep the next four (2011 Conference Finals vs. Bulls; 2012 NBA Finals vs. Thunder). For the Bulls, they not only wrestled home court away from the Heat, they are still holding on to their slim hopes of Rose returning.
The Bulls had almost everything go their way, and yet, the Heat were still in prime position to win the series opener. Look for Chicago to try and get Carlos Boozer more involved. When the Bulls ended the Heat’s 27-game winning streak, Boozer amassed 21 points and 17 boards (last night he was only able to score 6 points on 3-11 shooting). For Miami, they’ll need a better performance out of Ray Allen, who was a game-worst -16, while only contributing nine points.