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One Will Always Beat Three

Alright, I'll admit it: I sold the Bulls short before the series even started.  I watched them struggle with both Indiana and Atlanta, producing performances that were not exactly terrifying for the number one overall seed.  Meanwhile, Miami just manhandled a (now exposed) Boston team that many thought, including myself, would essentially decide who would win the East.  Vegas picked the Heat.  ESPN picked the Heat.  I picked the Heat.

And then the MVP and coach of the year proved to us exactly why we are all idiots.  Chicago blitzkrieged Miami last night, physically dominating them in a 103-82 victory.  The Bulls so far had been the Derrick Rose Show, featuring a bunch of other guys not worth naming.  The Heat continued to be a two man wrecking crew (no due respect to Bosh, who has no been underwhelming for the most part), powering through, around, and over defenses.  Rose is the MVP, but Miami has two of the top five players in the league playing at their highest level.  How would Chicago keep up?

My guess is that Tom Thibodeau preached that the only way that Chicago was going to beat the Heat was if they beat them up on the court and played as a cohesive unit.  Physical, aggressive defense pestered LeBron and Wade all night, creating difficult scoring opportunities that neither could convert on.  These were the top two teams in the league in defensive efficiency, and even though the Heat finished .1 behind the Bulls in that category, the Bulls looked like equivalent of the '85 Chicago Bears on defense last night.

Chicago looked like a team.  The Heat looked like a three-headed monster that struggled to keep two heads afloat.  The Bulls released defensive kryptonite on the Heat, reducing them to the one-on-one isolation offense that killed them early in the regular season.  The Bulls operated like German machinery.  The Heat looked like group of discombobulated parts struggling to function.

The Bulls switched, rotated, fought through screens, and clean, polished, and shined the backboards on the defensive end.  By pushing around the Heat on that side of the floor, a task that Boston failed to do and Philly just was not good enough to do, the Bulls created opportunities on the offensive end.  Missed shots led to defensive rebounds.  And when the Bulls had the ball on offense, they made the most of every opportunity possible.  Racking up 19 offensive rebounds resulted in 19 more shot attempts.  Even though Miami shot better from the field, the number of shots taken made a huge difference.

Chicago physically asserted their will last night.  They refused to let the Heatles push dictate the game.  And if I were Miami, I would be worried about this becoming a trend in the series.  Besides the Bulls simply outworking and wanting the win more than the Heat, two big things from last night stood out: Derrick Rose's "quiet" night and the clear difference in coaching abilities.

I am not sure if a player can ever truly have a quiet 28 and 6, but if anyone did, Derrick Rose did last night.  At no point did he seem to completely dominate the game.  He was always there doing the normal things Rose does, but he just did not shine like he did in the regular season.  Expecting the Bulls role players to continue performing the way they did last night is not expecting too much.  Miami hoping that Rose will continue to play like he did last night is hoping for too much.  If Rose catches fire, Miami will certainly have their hands more full than they already are.

Second, Erik Spoelstra is not on the same level of coaching as Thibodeau.  He might not even be in the same league.  The Heat, while clearly the players were having their struggles, were completely out-executed in the second half.  I do not care if the Heat have three of the four best players on the court in the series, Thibodeau's ability to outcoach Spoelstra will make null that.

Obviously Miami is an incredibly talented team.  The series is far from over, especially considering that Miami is one of the best home teams in the league.  But I feel like game one might have indicated how this series will progress.  Chicago holds the power; they can dictate the remainder of the series.  Better big men, a plethora of defenders to throw at Bosh and Wade, superior defensive schemes, and the MVP.  Maybe all the Bulls needed was this underdog role to complete the recipe.


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