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What does another Miami Heat loss tell us? That Chicago is good.

Mar 6, 2011, 4:45 PM EDT

Carlos Boozer AP

For many this s going to be about Miami losing again in a close game against an elite team (87-86 to the Bulls).

About the Heat players crying in the locker room afterward. About how the Heat are now 1-16 this season on shots to tie or win in the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter. About how Erik Spoelstra can’t draw up the right play or motivate his team. About whether that pushing foul on Mike Miller after Luol Deng missed crucial free throws was really a foul (no, it wasn’t). About how the Heat were the more desperate team but still lost.

What should this game be about?

Officially welcoming the Chicago Bulls into the ranks of NBA title contenders.

The Bulls have just enough offense and plenty of defense. A Heat team that scores 110.7 points per 100 possessions during the season was held to 101.2 in this game. On the final play, the Bulls anticipated the Heat trying to get the switch of a big man on to LeBron James off a pick, but with Joakim Noah and his length and quickness there is no mismatch. Then Dwyane Wade hustled to get the offensive board, but the long arms of Luol Deng were there to contest that shot.

It would be wrong to say the Heat are not executing their plays at the end of games, because that would imply they are running plays. The Heat are falling back to isolations or a pick at best. The offense — which isn’t that complex to begin with — goes the way of the Dodo bird late in games.

The Heat had an early lead in this one by double digits at points  (led by 9 at the half) because their defense forced turnovers. The Heat had 20 points in the paint in the first half, just half that in the second half. The Bulls adjusted and the Heat settled.

The Bulls were not perfect. Rose, who played a great game, blew off the Tom Thibodeau play call to try to get isolated on Wade late, then launched and missed a three that was a poor shot. Carlos Boozer didn’t bother to make the  rotation to stop drive by Mario Chalmers what put the Heat up two late.

(Chalmers was the best Heat player down the stretch, hitting big shots like he was still winning a national title at Kansas. He had the Heat’s last five points.)

But those were the exceptions. The Bulls played within themselves. They got enough offense out of Rose (27), Boozer (12) and a great game by Deng (18) to get the win.

Sure, the Bulls caught some breaks. Ask any champion if they caught some breaks. The Bulls were able to control the pace in the second half (once they limited turnovers) and the Heat — even with their big three — could not score against that defense consistently.

The Bulls are in the mix as contenders. I’m not convinced they will win until they find a way to get some easier buckets once in a while (Rose is spectacular but I don’t think he knows was an easy bucket is), but they are scoring enough.

Enough to leave the Heat in tears. Enough to be title contenders.

  1. dnbajunkie - Mar 6, 2011 at 5:00 PM

    The hairline cracks on the Heat’s armor are expanding. They really have to find the elusive chemistry down the stretch against good playoff teams. Then again, the Bulls showed a lot of spirit, hunger & determination to win the game.

    • nelson8403 - Mar 6, 2011 at 5:14 PM

      Hairline cracks? You mean the gaping holes in the heat’s armor? they have no bench at all, they can’t expect to win a series 3 on 5, especially when their bench scores less than 10 points almost every game. They’ll make the playoffs, but they won’t even make a splash.

    • goforthanddie - Mar 7, 2011 at 1:06 PM

      The only way chemistry helps Miami would be if they could clone 2 more starters and a bench.

  2. zackd2 - Mar 6, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    This is WAR!!! Startinggggggggg…..NOW!….wait ok um starting NOW!….NOW?….Guys? Not now? Oh ok.

  3. pilotpaul - Mar 6, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    The clear difference is simply that the Bulls play with aggressive unselfishness! Note to Miami–3 stars do not a team make!

  4. gmsingh - Mar 6, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    The NBA is a joke. They’re all about shilling for the big name players. Sorry, Thibodeau is turning out to be one of the best coaches in the league, and Chicago is consistently beating teams that supposedly have superior talent. LeBron’s final shot in the closing seconds made him look like one of the most idiotic players in the league, but you couldn’t tell that from the shilling announcers!

    • habibthomas - Mar 6, 2011 at 6:01 PM

      The NBA is fine, but the old concept of building super teams has never worked any sport including the NBA. If the NBA was a complete hoke then the Heat would not be having the problems they have. Smart basketball always prevails.

    • starks3 - Mar 6, 2011 at 7:03 PM

      they haven’t beat the Knicks yet haha

    • tweener8292 - Mar 7, 2011 at 1:21 PM

      True about Mike Tirico. Hubie Brown clearly enjoys the Bulls and Derrick Rose particularly. And you’re right – Thibs is quickly becoming one of the best coaches in the league. Putting Noah on LeBron was a great move and helped force his miss. I wouldn’t call him “one of the most idiotic players in the league”. That’s not fair to LeBron or the nice D Noah played on him when he had to have it. The league isn’t a joke, but some of the media coverage is.

  5. jthammerstix - Mar 6, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    They blow

  6. yankeesjetsknicksrangers - Mar 6, 2011 at 5:53 PM

    Cry me a river

  7. passerby23 - Mar 6, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    Chicago was a contender before this win. I guess that wasn’t clear when they beat Miami just a few days ago, or beat Orlando soundly after that on the road, or beat a hot San Antonio team just before the break. In my mind, they always were for real.

  8. louistaylored - Mar 6, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    Umm I dont know if I agree with Coach Spo revealing the things that go on in the Locker Room, especially if those things are crying…….after a reg.season game. Not that its a bad thing, but Im sure the players would prefer if that info stayed in the Locker Room. This could lead in a distrust in the coach and people labeling them soft, lets see how they handle that along with all the other mass of problems they’re facing.

    And I think the Bulls are championship contenders, I fully believe they have wat it takes to get out of the East but not to win it all. They’ll need a SG to win it all

  9. dirksimmons - Mar 6, 2011 at 9:49 PM

    Two seconds in and I read another comment on that foul at the end. What a surprise it comes from Helin… Someone explain to me how Deng ended up at the end line. To his credit, he does say that the foul wasn’t what this game was about.

  10. hnirobert3 - Mar 7, 2011 at 8:02 AM

    Where’s the Knick fan who laughed at me when I said the Bulls were for real 3 weeks ago?

  11. henryd3rd - Mar 7, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    What I find truly difficult to understand is how quickly Miami Heat fans are jumping off the bandwagon. From what I am reading you’d have thought that the Heat had just been swept out of the playoffs. Talk about a bunch of front runners. The regular season is not even over and these people are already reconstructing this team. People there is still plenty of basketball to be played and please remember the euphoria of last Spring when LaBron told the world on ESPN that he was taking his talents to South Beach.

    Take a deep breath and remember how bad it was last season. Take a deep breath and ask yourself what other professional team here in South Florida has a chance at a Championship? None! So enjoy the ride even if it is a little bumpy. The season is not over and there is still a lot of basketball to be played. Or you can go throw your support behind the Marlins or work on your golf handicap.

    Read more:

    • hnirobert3 - Mar 7, 2011 at 11:10 AM

      As a lifelong Heat fan, while what’s happening is disappointing and embarrassing, I am delighted to see the fair weather Heat “fans” off the bandwagon. This is actually shaping up to be what could be a Hollywood-esque playoff run… but then again, Spo is the coach and he doesn’t have the meddle to tell LBJ to stop playing hero ball.

    • heyooooh - Mar 7, 2011 at 2:21 PM

      What did you expect? Miami is an awful sports town. They hardly ever sell out games for any sport. Just watch a Heat game. You’ll see a bunch of empty seats well into the 3rd quarter. They have 3 of the biggest stars in the NBA, but still can’t get people to consistently show up to games.

  12. gqrlh - Mar 7, 2011 at 11:54 AM

    Chicago is a very strong team, I just feel they could use more inside play, and get some easy buckets now and then. Rose made some difficult shots yesterday, but the question is, can he continue to make those types of shots. In the playoffs you will need some easy points. D.Rose is amazing young player, as long as the Bulls can stay healthy, they can go deep into the playoffs. Chi-town your Bulls are back!!

  13. goforthanddie - Mar 7, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    Wow, a post can get deleted just for truthfully saying Miami sucks ass? Truth hurt that much?

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