Playoff Box Score: Heat "D" Evens Series
By Benjy Lipsman in News on May 19, 2011 2:00PM
You didn't really think these Eastern Conference finals were going to be a cakewalk for the Bulls did you? After a commanding Bulls victory in the series' opener, the Miami Heat bounced back and played much like Chicago did in game one. While the Bulls hung in there for most of the game, in the end Miami's defense was too much and the Bulls fell to the Heat 85-75 on Wednesday night.
From the opening tip, the Bulls seemed incapable of finding the basket, missing their first nine shots and hitting only two of their first 14. And yet they managed to jump out to a seven-point lead after the first quarter thanks to an advantage in offensive rebounds and a Luol Deng half-court buzzer beater. Miami clawed back in the second quarter to grab a two point lead at halftime. The Bulls shot just 38 percent for the half, while Miami shot over 50 percent. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, held to just 33 points combined in game one, scored 31 in the first half.
In the second half, Miami saw Udonis Haslem step up and do his best Taj Gibson impersonation. Having missed all but 13 regular season games due to injury, Haslem had seen little action in the playoffs but came alive in the second half. Haslem provided a counter to the Bulls athletic big men that dominated the series opener. Miami extended their lead to six at the end of the third quarter, and then locked down the Bulls in the final period. While the Bulls tied the game at 73 apiece five minutes into the final frame, Miami held the Bulls to a single Taj Gibson basket over the game's final seven minutes.
To a man, the Bulls shot poorly. As a team they managed to hit just 34 percent of their shots on the night. Derrick Rose had an off night. He led the team with 21 points, but shot just 7-of-24 from the field and the Heat contested every shot in the lane. Luol Deng shot just 5-for-15 and Carlos Boozer missed seven of his ten shots, as the Bulls even managed to miss easy layups. The Bulls also shot 3-for-20 from three-point land last night, compared to 47 percent from downtown in game one. They were also out-rebounded 45-41 by the Heat, although they did manage to grab seven more offensive boards. That's a feat made easier when missing two-thirds of your shots.
Despite their terrible night, the Bulls remained in the game until the end. Had they not gone scoreless (save one basket) for the final seven minutes, they might have walked off the court with a victory anyway. We expected this series to be a hard fought battle, and we never believed that the Bulls had any chance to sweep the Heat. The Bulls now have a few days to regroup and make adjustments before Sunday's game three in Miami. (7:30 p.m. TNT / ESPN 1000 AM)