Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat Series: Heat won 4-1 After a blowout victory by the Bulls in Game 1 that gave everybody outside of the Miami area code a glint of hope that their run might be over, Miami’s triumvirate of ring chasers played they way they knew they’d eventually play. For the rest of the series, that featured four consecutive Miami victories, LeBron James, love him or despise him, showed why he is the most dynamic player in the NBA. After a poor outing due to Luol Deng’s superb defense in Game 1, the self-proclaimed ‘King’ averaged 28.5 points per game to go along with more than 8 rebounds and nearly 7 assists per contest. Backing up the superstar was Dwyane Wade who, despite suffering through a turnover-prone start in Game 5, exploded to score 10 points in a turnover-free last quarter that closed out the number one seed in five defensively tough games. [caption id="attachment_861" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="LeBron James celebrates as Derrick Rose ponders what could have been"][/caption] The play from Wade and James in the fourth quarter of Game 5 was merely a microcosm of what they had produced that far against the Bulls. Having a reputation as a choker, LeBron James was as clutch as he has ever been in his career, sealing Game 4 and Game 5 with long-range jump shots that struck the Bulls to their core. Couple his exceptional scoring with his almost-impenetrable fourth-quarter defensive efforts against newly-crowned MVP Derrick Rose, and their is absolutely no argument the LeBron, if not the King of the NBA anymore, is by far the King of South Beach. For the Heat, the last two games by sharpshooter Mike Miller were perhaps the best he has played since signing as a free agent last summer. Added to be the long-range threat that Wade and, until recently, James, had both been somewhat shaky at, Miller added 19 points on the last two games. That number doesn’t blow anyone away, but the mere threat of Miller patrolling around the perimeter kept the Bulls’ defense honest, creating the slightest of gaps that the dynamic Heat wings could exploit. The defense for the Heat, ranked 5th in points per game this past season, where their typical stingy selves against the Bulls, keeping them below 95 points per game four out of the five games. By shutting down the passing lanes and forcing Derrick Rose to shoot more than he wanted to, the Heat kept the young point guard to an abysmal 35% from the field. Without a bona-fide second scorer (Boozer is way too inconsistent and Deng is more of a blue-collar player than star), the Bulls were simply no match for the Miami Heat.
For the Bulls, the must simply chalk this one up to experience. After a blazing start in Game 1, they simply couldn’t break down the exceptionally speedy defense of the Heat to score heavily enough to win games. The biggest disappointment for the Bulls was the lack of offensive output from their big man tandem of Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. During the regular season, the front court duo of Boozer and Noah averaged nearly 30 points per contest. Against the Heat, the [caption id="attachment_863" align="alignright" width="200" caption="After falling short during an MVP year, Derrick Rose and the Bulls will be better having had this experience"][/caption] could only manage an unsatisfying 20.4 per game. Take away Boozer’s 26-point outburst in Game 3’s loss in Miami, and that number drops to a less-than-damaging 15.2 points per game. Against an old, soft and injury-prone Miami front court, these two needed to step up, take advantage of their less-talented (or weaker in Bosh’s case) opponents and control the game. Their rebounding was, as always, rather spectacular. But simply out, a combine output of 10 points and 14 rebounds in the deciding Game 5 is not the kind of effort that would help the Bulls beat the Heat. Defensively, the Bulls were still very solid, but due to their lack of playoff experience, their surrendering of 90 fourth quarter points in their four combined losses, as opposed to scoring only 65 in four combined final periods, was the deciding factor in this series. In the end, this one came down to experience. With the Heat’s starting 5 combining for 303 playoff starts compared to the Bulls’ 187, the Heat were able to use their veteran experience to hit big shots down the stretch. Shots that, eventually, this young Bulls team, like the Heat’s three All-Stars, will be able to make.