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Bulls Mon May 16 2011

Bulls Surge Past Miami With Another Peak Effort

Two hallmarks of the Chicago Bulls combined in the second half Sunday to take down the Miami Heat 103-82 in Game One of the Eastern Conference finals. A deep bench along with Tom Thibodeau's trademark defense (executed almost flawlessly by Luol Deng & Co. ) held LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to a combined 33 points on 12-of-32 shooting.

bulls heat series logo.PNG

Derrick Rose played well, but not out of his mind, finishing with 28 points and six rebounds on 10-22 shooting. The game's high scorer was Miami forward Chris Bosh, who netted 30 points, but wasn't able to do much else in the way of damage as Chicago owned the glass with 45 rebounds to the Heat's 33.

Through two quarters, this game was largely as everyone expected it--tough defenses controlling the pace, with both teams prone to turnovers and shaky shooting. But in the second half, with both Miami starters tiring and a Chicago bench surging, the Bulls pulled away.

Miami led 58-57 with 7:30 left in the third before the Bulls took a 17-point lead with a 26-8 run.

Joakim Noah was one of the biggest reasons for advantage in rebounds, grabbing 14, including eight on the offensive boards. Carlos Boozer had nine himself (four offensive), along with 14 points. On their own, neither player put forth a career night, but as you'll see, the combined good performances from all of the Bulls were more than enough to overcome one great performance by Bosh.

In fact, when you look at how many extra field goal attempts Chicago had (87-68, primarily due to their 19-6 offensive rebound advantage), it's disappointing that the Bulls only managed to sink six more shots than Miami. Fortunately, Chicago was much more active behind the arc, sinking 10 3-pointers to Miami's three.

Overall, it was an example of the strength of the team versus the individual. Everywhere you look, you can see the signs of the team winning this game as opposed to one star player, whether in the scoring contributions of the bench (28-15 in favor of Chicago), the ability of team defense to hold Miami to only 82 points, or the fact that the Bulls had more than double the number of assists that the Heat did, 23-11.

In a seven-game series, it's easy to focus on the ability of the individual, particularly in basketball, to earn a victory himself. Yet inevitably, over the course of five, six or seven games, the individual can't keep up that blistering pace.

I've no doubt James or Wade will rebound from this game and explode, perhaps as soon as Wednesday night back in the United Center. But in the long run, especially with one win in the books, this should give Bulls fans confidence that their team has all the pieces to win a championship.

 
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