CHICAGO — How are those fingernails doing? The Bulls and Heat didn’t disappoint in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference and gave a great appetizer to what will surely be a hearty meal of elite basketball.
Derrick Rose was his usual self and by usual self that means he was MVP caliber in every aspect for every minute. The swagger that had bonded the Bulls all season was present unlike it was at all prior to game 1 against Miami. Just like in the previous games against the Heat, Luol Deng showed up with an attitude for the Heat. He had 8 points in the second quarter which helped get the Bulls back into the game in combination with Taj Gibson. After that, the Bulls confidence rose player by player until it was too much for the Heat to handle.
At one point in the fourth quarter, the Bulls led 86-69.
The defense did what they were supposed to do with Dewayne Wade and LeBron James limiting them to both under 15 points in the first half. It was that other guy, Chris Bosh, that went off on the Bulls posting 17 points in the first half. Just as was suspected, the rest of the Heat weren’t very hot in the first half or the game as entirety for that matter. The bench had a total of 5 of the Heat’s 48 first half points. The second half was as lackadaisical as the first.
In that same vein, the Bulls Bench Mob was what it was during the regular season. In stark contrast to Miami’s 5 bench points in the first half, the Bench Mob had 12 of the Bulls 48 first half points. Taj Gibson was featured prominently scoring the Bulls first 7 points of the second quarter which helped pull the Bulls back into the game.
The Bulls exploded out of the gate in the second half putting the Heat in the Chicago Chokehold they have become so familiar with. After a first half that saw the two teams neck and neck throughout, the Bulls led by as much as nine in the third quarter. In that span, Carlos Boozer scored 4 and had an assist, and Derrick Rose scored 10 with an assist. Rose hit a pair of treys as well as two free throws and a jumper to make his 10. The way these two guys were clicking was a very telling factor about how this game went.
The fourth quarter saw the Bulls extend their lead to 11 on an Omer Asik slam dunk that gave him five points at that point. That was the start of a devastating fourth quarter attack by the Bulls that saw that 11 point lead extended to as much as 17 points as everyone from Asik to the always wonderful C.J. Watson, Kyle Korver and even Ronnie Brewer dug into the buffet that was the Heat’s defense. Miami may have been able to keep pace with Chicago in the first half, but the Bulls and the massive crowd at the United Center’s eclectic pulse was too much to overcome. This may not be what the entire series will hold, but it’s a great start for the Bulls.
Game 2 will be on Wednesday in Chicago and if the Bulls show up with what they brought on Monday, then this series can very well head back to South Beach 2-0 in the Bulls favor. But for all the flack the Bulls have taken in the days following their series clincher against the Hawks, Game 1 was a giant thumbing of the nose at those who cast doubt on the talent of this team. The regular season sweep of the Heat may not be the best way to gauge this series,, but Game 1 is and the Bulls are ready to go full throttle.