Eastern Conference Finals Game 1: Bulls Win 103-82, Lead Series 1-0

Posted by By at 16 May, at 23 : 27 PM Print

Last night the Chicago Bulls improved to 4-0 versus the Miami Heat this season to take a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals. The game was taking shape to be the heavyweight bout one would expect between the top two seeds until the midway point of the third quarter when Miami had a 58-57 lead. That’s when Chicago turned up the pressure on defense and the game was never really in doubt after that. Derrick Rose and Keith Bogans hit three pointers, Rose hit two-free throws after being fouled by Wade, then Noah scored to make it 67-58. After James Jones hit a three for the Heat, Luol Deng hit one of his own to cap the 14-3 run that gave Chicago a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Rose paced the Bulls with 28 points, going 10-22 from the floor, with 6 assists, and was 3-7 from beyond the arc. Luol Deng chipped in with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, and a block. Even more impressive than his stat line was the defense he played on LeBron James, holding him to 5-15 from the field. Carlos Boozer had his second straight good shooting game, going 5-10, on his way to 14 points and also grabbed 9 rebounds. Joakim Noah didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but Jerry Reinsdorf & Gar Forman don’t pay him to score. They pay him to clean up the glass and be a disruptor on defense, and that’s exactly what he did. He grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds (8 offensive) to go along with 2 steals and 2 blocks.

The star off the bench, and the entire game was 6’9″ forward Taj Gibson. In 23 minutes he had 9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 rude welcoming back to Chicago for Dwyane Wade, and 1 put-back dunk that put the exclamation point on the game. In a performance one might call the game of his life, outside of the two highlight reel plays he didn’t do anything he doesn’t normally do, he’s just efficient with his time on the floor. Ronnie Brewer & Omer Asik generally won’t impress you in the box score, but their efforts on defense didn’t go unnoticed.

Miami got it’s best game this postseason from Chris Bosh, who went 12-18 from the floor, to score 30 points and added 9 rebounds. Dwyane Wade never really got going, thanks in large part to Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer. He still managed 18 points and 3 steals, not bad for an “off game”. Like Wade, James was a victim of Chicago’s defense. Luol Deng played him about as well as you could, holding him to 5-15 from the floor. Even with a bad shooting night LeBron still had a stat line most would be ecstatic with: 15 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and 3 blocks.

The production from the bench was about as expected as Erick Spoelstra doesn’t have the luxury Tom Thibodeau does when he looks towards his bench for reinforcements. Mario Chalmers played a decent game giving Bibby breathers, but he was the lone bright spot off Spoeltra’s pine. James Jones looked lost a few times on defense and Jamaal Magloire was really nothing more than a space-eater in his 10 minutes on the floor. Heat fans were, I’m sure, glad to see Udonis Haslem get some minutes under his belt towards the end of the game as he works himself back into game shape, and could see extended minutes later in the series.

Game 1 went about as well as Chicago could’ve asked for so not much need for adjustments from them. Tom Thibodeau’s post game speech probably went something like, “Same thing on Wednesday please”. Rose carried the load offensively, as he’s done all year. Deng and Boozer did more than an adequate job in supporting him. The bench shot 50% from the floor and provided tough defense that ignited the crowd and team.

From a tactical standpoint there probably isn’t anything Miami needs to change ahead of Wednesday’s game. Another game like this one from Bosh would certainly be welcomed. Outside of the poor shooting, Wade and James did their usual parts to contribute in other areas. The shots they missed were certainly makeable¬† for both of them and will fall as the series goes on. As a team Miami actually shot better than Chicago did, 47% to 43%. The difference was, when Chicago missed they got the offensive rebounds. The Bulls outrebounded the Heat 45-33, including 19 on the offensive glass. If Miami can do a better job keeping Noah, Boozer, Asik, and Gibson off the offensive glass and win more 50/50 loose balls, that they were out hustled to yesterday, we should see a much closer game 2.

My apologies in advance to Dwyane Wade fans

Taj Gibson caps off the victory in style

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