Moment #9: Bulls Sweep The Heat
The 2011 Playoffs won’t be mentioned here. For this is a positive light we are shining; and at the time no positive and hopeful light shone brighter than when the Bulls, the scrappy young team that no one gave a second thought to, de-throned the kings of the East and were themselves champions if even for a moment.
Coming into the 2011 season, after the now infamous “Decision”, everyone was circling the Miami Heat on their schedule. One team in particular that payed close attention to their three game set was the Chicago Bulls. At the start of the year, all the talk was about how two cities in particular got the shaft from LeBron. One was obviously Cleveland and they took it bad, like a four year old child who got their cookie jar put in a new home where they can never again eat out of it.
The other city however, was Chicago and people in that city took it with much more of a stride. Much was made in the days and minutes leading up to the now famous lines James spoke in front of the Boys and Girls Club and millions of people, but what a lot of people forget is that Chicago seemed to be the likely destination for the superstar.
Some were even ready to erect a James statue outside of the United Center and where having wet dreams about LeBron banners flying side-by-side with the current Jordan ones.
But it was never to be, and Chicago could not have cared less about it. As we found out, Derrick Rose was as uninterested and detached from it as anyone else. It came out that he told James via text message words to the effect of “Come play with us, that’s fine; your choice. Don’t come play with us, that’s fine; you’re choice but get ready to get your ass kicked.”
Big words from the then unproven 22 year old centerpiece of the Bulls new franchise. But on January 15th, Rose and
the Bulls backed those words up with a ferocious 99-96 win that put Chicago on the map of the NBA elite’s.
But the doubters were still there and the Bulls still had two meetings with the Heat who in their defense, weren’t at full strength for the first meeting. LeBron James and Chris Bosh both missed significant portions of the game with James being ruled out entirely. Instead it was a battle of the South-Siders: D-Rose vs. D-Wade.
It was a fitting beginning to what would become one of the season’s best trilogies. The second meeting was more of a true matchup as the Heat finally had all of their Big 3 in the lineup, but not all completely healthy. Nevertheless it was a duel between what would end being the Eastern Conference’s top two teams.
At this point, the Bulls were still rising in the standings and had not yet peaked with their talents. But another boastfully conquering win by the Bulls set off a spark that would lead to something few predicted but no one really saw coming. In the second meeting the story was how the Heat still weren’t clicking and this whole Big 3 recipe was beginning to sour. Chris Bosh had, with out a doubt, the worst night going just 1-18 and putting on one of the worst flops in NBA history. When Carlos Boozer spun his elbow in front of Bosh, Bosh waited until Boozer’s arms were down to go stiff and fall back.
The foul was still called.
But the Bulls came out on top with a 93-89 victory and were one game away from a personal vendetta.
In the final game, the two teams battled in Miami, which some thought would turn the tides as the first two were in the United Center where the Bulls dominated everyone who set foot within it. It was the truest matchup of the three with all three Miami superstars being healthy.
It was also the closet contested of all three.
It came down to the final minutes of the final quarter. With 0:15 left on the clock, the Heat held a one point. 86-85 lead. But Mike Miller was called for a personal foul on Luol Deng, sending him to the line for two. Deng made both giving the Bulls the one point, 87-86 lead.
It was the most intense fifteen seconds of the Bulls regular season. Fans everywhere were on the edge of their seat as LeBron James drove to the basket with five seconds left. They all closed their eyes waiting to hear the Miami crowd roar. But only the roar never came. Instead Bulls fans opened their eyes to now see Dwayne Wade with the basketball with 0:02 left. He shot and before Bulls fans could close their eyes again, the balls went off the rim and Keith Boagans came up with it.
The Bulls had done it. They had taken 3 games from the Heat and swept them. Not only that, but the final win meant they had leap frogged the Heat in the Eastern Conference standings and now sat in second place behind the Celtics of Boston. A personal voctory had been achieved.
No more than a week later, the Bulls had full control of first place in the East and the rest, as they say, is history. The Heat may have gotten their revenge on a grander scale, but for a while, it was the Bulls who were the kings and on top of the NBA world. The Bulls regular season sweep of the Heat is the 9th best moment of the Bulls 2011 season.