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NBA Playoffs: Heat make stunning comeback, reach finals

May 27, 2011, 2:18 AM EDT

Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls - Game Five Getty Images

For the first 44 and a half minutes of the Miami Heat’s 83-80 victory on Thursday night, the Chicago Bulls got the exact game they wanted.

LeBron James was bottled up after missing some tough jumpers early, with free throws being his only real source of offense. Dwyane Wade‘s struggles continued, and he committed nine turnovers while failing to get a shot to fall or a pass to go through traffic. Chris Bosh had a strong game, especially for a third option, but it wasn’t enough.

The Bulls dominated the glass, and they made the game ugly. They beat the Heat to 50-50 balls, they finally got a few outside shots to fall, and they forced turnovers and created unforced errors. They made Miami miserable, and with three and half minutes remaining it looked like the series was heading back to Miami for a Game 6.

Then the LeBron James that took over the 2007 Eastern Conference finals and the Dwyane Wade that took over the 2006 NBA finals decided to show up — at the same time. With 3:53 remaining in the game, Miami took a timeout after Ronnie Brewer made what looked like a dagger 3-pointer to put the Bulls up by 12.

After the timeout, LeBron got fouled and split a pair of free throws. Then Wade made a short jumper, stole a pass, and got a quick layup in transition. After a missed jumper by Taj Gibson, LeBron drilled a three to cut the Bulls’ lead to five, and Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau immediately called a timeout.

After the timeout, Derrick Rose hit a beautiful, spinning floater over LeBron, and the Bulls’ lead looked safe once again. Then Wade made his first three-point basket since May 7 — while getting fouled. Wade made the free throw, Rose missed a floater, and LeBron calmly pulled up in semi-transition to make a game-tying three with a minute to go. After that, LeBron stole a pass and hit a pull-up jump shot to put the Heat up by two. Rose had a chance to tie the game with a pair of free throws, but he missed the second, and Bosh was able to seal the game for the Heat with two clutch free throws in a must-foul situation for the Bulls.

Now the Heat are going to the NBA finals, and they look fairly terrifying. They refused to have their wills broken by the team that accumulated the NBA’s best record by breaking wills. LeBron and Wade look unstoppable in crunch time. The team’s defense has been suffocating, and nobody can doubt how much offensive talent Miami has. The Heat will have to score more than they have in their last two series to win a championship, but the Mavericks’ defense won’t give them nearly as much trouble as the Celtics or Bulls.

The Heat were made. The Heat were criticized. The Heat had an up-and-down regular season. The Heat won the Eastern Conference in a total of 15 games. Now we get to see if the story of the Miami Heat, which has been one of the most intriguing of the NBA season, will end with a championship parade.

  1. trbowman - May 27, 2011 at 2:35 AM

    I don’t even want to watch the finals. We knew all year this would happen. Heat are gonna win it boys.

    • chargerdillon - May 27, 2011 at 10:54 AM

      Let’s get this straight, the best team with the best record who dominated virtually all teams all season long, made it to the Eastern Conference Finals AND CHOKED AS HARD AS YOU CAN CHOKE.

      2011 Season + Playoffs Bulls vs Heat = Bulls 4 wins, Heat 4 Wins

      Up until Game 4 the Bulls had not lost 3 in a row all year long
      Up until Game 5 the Bulls had not lost 4 in a row all year long

      “we knew all year this would happen” Nobody knew the Bulls would decide to throw their season in the garbage with two and a half minutes on the clock with a 10 point lead

      • purdueman - May 27, 2011 at 1:51 PM

        What a sophomoric post (ugh!).

        The Bulls didn’t “choke”; the better team simply won. Miami you know didn’t have Haslem during the regular season and he proved IMO to be a real difference maker. No Haslem, the Bulls likely go on to win game #2 and it’s an entirely different series.

        Tibedeau also clearly got out coached, as I didn’t see the Bulls really make any adjustments (play calling and player rotation wise), after the game #2 loss other than foolishly putting Shorty Watson briefly in the same backcourt with Rose (which backfired badly), in game #4.

      • chitownbulls - May 27, 2011 at 2:27 PM

        You can say that, but you also need to realize that:

        –> the Heat promised multiple championships, immediately.
        –>The Bulls just played hard, and D.Rose had a breakout season…

        No one expected them to be in the ECF (they squeezed every drop out of that rosters talent level) and even though Miami was able to clamp down on the Bulls at the most crucial moments and take over games late, they had three things working in their favor:

        – They could always count on making up ground at the FT line… That was obvious (rightly or wrongly)
        – Their talent overcomes even the best man to man Bulls defenders
        – No one on the Bulls could make jumpshots (they need easy baskets to win, like they did during their dominant season, but against the Heat, they were few and far btwn)… You can say that Derrick choked on his, but is that really fair with the defenses he had to face? He could never even get into a rhythm.

        The Heat deserved to win. You are bolstered in making your comments because Derrick likes to take the blame for losing games. But make no mistake, their defensive schemes, per Spoelstra, were changed constantly just to frustrate and make it tough on Rose. Add that to the fact that they didn’t even need to consistently guard anybody else, except Korver, well, there you go…

  2. randommofo - May 27, 2011 at 2:45 AM

    Still in shock over the ending… wow

  3. thekingdave - May 27, 2011 at 3:24 AM

    2011- the year NBA2K franchise mode with trade restrictions turned off became reality

    • southbeachtalent - May 27, 2011 at 2:40 PM

      Maybe but not even in 2K11 can you make a come back down 11 with 3 mins…

  4. bittersonicsfan - May 27, 2011 at 5:13 AM

    Wow. I wanted Miami to win but some of those calls on the Bulls were a little suspect. I am no fan of Taj Gibson, but that tech was ridiculous, how can you tech him for emotion? Even if the Bulls won, Miami probably would’ve taken game 6, but the refs were a little stinky in this one.

    Noah calling the Heat “Hollywood as Hell” was pretty funny. The Bulls are going to have to make some trades since every starter is under contract besides Kurt “Big Sexy” Thomas. This is the worst Heat team we should see in a while and the Bulls weren’t able to finish them, not to encouraging for Chicago fans.

    • purdueman - May 27, 2011 at 1:39 PM

      bitter… good post… here are my post-series thoughts:

      I don’t know why so many Heat fans are gloating today over eliminating the Bulls for two reasons:
      1) It’s widely known by true basketball fans that only one team since 1976 (the Pistons), has won an NBA championship with only one star player (and of course it’s also been widely accepted that the Bulls have only one); and
      2) The Heat haven’t won anything yet, but they sure celebrate like they have. As Satchel Paige liked to say, “Don’t look back because something might be gaining on you!”.

      Bulls management would have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to realize that they need to at least bring in a Robin for their Batman (Rose). My bet is that they’ll try to pry Howard from Orlando, as Orlando doesn’t want to wind up with little or nothing in return for him should he leave as a free agent after next season.

      The Bulls have more pieces (starting with Noah), to offer than any other large market contender team and it would fulfill Howard’s stated desire to play with a big market contender. Oh, and Laker fans, you can forget fantasizing about the Lakers landing Howard, because there’s no way Orlando trades him without a package that would include Bynum and Jim Buss has labeled Bynum as being untouchable.

      • bittersonicsfan - May 27, 2011 at 3:40 PM

        Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose would be scary, the Bulls would have to clean house to get him but if the Heat are any indicator, you can win with superstars and an average 3-12. With all these stars aligning, the NBA is on the verge of an equinox.

      • purdueman - May 27, 2011 at 6:57 PM

        Howard let everyone know that he wasn’t happy about Orlando’s quit playoff exit, and now having to take a back seat to the Heat isn’t likely to make him any happier either. To add to Howard’s misery, the Magic are capped out and the cap is expected to drop when the new CBA goes into effect to make their predicament even worse.

        There simply won’t be any stars available in free agency this off season, so the only way that Orlando could bring in another star in order to try and placate Howard is via trade, and in order to do so they’d have to be able to match up salaries and likely hope that any trading partner is willing to either take garbage or overpaid players back in return.

        My bet is that Howard won’t want any part of staying in a small market like Orlando and be stuck taking a back seat to the Heat and all of their glamor boys now. If Howard presses now (as Mello did), for a trade to a contending big market team, the Bulls hands down have the most to offer as well as the best ability to match up salaries without asking Orlando to take garbage back in return.

        The Bulls wouldn’t need to clean house to make such a deal either. Obviously Orlando would demand Noah back as part of any deal and then the Bulls could offer Orlando their choice of Boozer or Deng, and if they took Boozer then to get the salaries to match up Orlando could throw in Redick (who’s way overpaid and is little more than a role player for Orlando).

        Keep in mind too that the Bulls have two #1’s and one #2 in this years draft, plus another #1 and #2 in next years draft with which to work with. Granted, none of these are anywhere close to being lottery pick level, but for a capped out team like Orlando they still do offer good value.

  5. Milton Galfas - May 27, 2011 at 7:09 AM

    Most of us celebrated ‘The Decision’ as a giant step forward for the NBA players against the plantation mentality that permeates the league and it’s announcers. Three brave black men determined their future and executed a brilliant plan to end the ‘masters’ dominance over them. It is about time someone freed the slaves and it is Lebron James, Duane Wade , and Chris Bosh. Congratulations

    And the Bulls are still children. The MVP will probably be considered the worst choice of an MVP in all of time. He is a poor shooter, poor passer, and even worse basketball mastermind. But he does run fast and play for a major basketball market. His choice will easily bring an extra $100 million to the NBA. Congratulations to the Northeast press for voting for their own inbred foolishness.

    • davidly - May 27, 2011 at 11:58 AM

      “Worst choice of all time” is just a tad exaggerated. But I get your point.

      Think about this, though: The NBA and her sister-media outlets have been promoting the following meme for quite a while: the MVP is the one player who, if you remove him from his team, that team speculatively surrenders most of that season’s won games.

      That’s why he got the award. That’s why James got it last year. That’s why Nash has two of ’em, etc. Heck, based on that criteria, Lamar Odom should have gotten the MVP instead of Sixth Man.

  6. drmonkeyarmy - May 27, 2011 at 7:34 AM

    I don’t like the Heat, but I am glad they won the series. If I had to watch another second of Chicago’s offense, I might have gouged out my eyes.

    • davidly - May 27, 2011 at 9:07 AM

      I’m with you on the offense was Bull****. Normally, I hate it when folks focus on what lost a game instead of giving the winning team their props; but I can’t help but make the observation that Chicago simply blew it.

    • polegojim - May 27, 2011 at 10:11 AM

      No kidding – that was PAINFUL to watch. Utter collapse and ineptitude.

      The Bulls resorted to playground/streetball tactics. Rose operated with panic and horrible shots. They were soooo slow to move the ball that even senior league defenders could’ve caught up.

      But…these Bulls are young. They’ll be back.

      • polegojim - May 27, 2011 at 10:12 AM

        PS – Go Mavs!

  7. rbrown4495 - May 27, 2011 at 8:16 AM

    Where are all the HATERS TODAY, people had so much to say earlier in the year when they weren’t playing as well, now there is nothing but silence. Congratulations to the Miami Heat for getting it figured out. If they accomplish an NBA championship in just 1 year, omg.Once they add a few more pieces and Mike Millers fingers are back healthy with his 3 point shot falling at 40% again, they will be awesome. Not just 1, but 2,3,4,5,6… LOL. Go Heat

    • purdueman - May 27, 2011 at 8:42 AM

      rbrown… the Heat clearly outplayed and out manned the Bulls. All I can do is tip my hat to them. By the same token though, I have just officially jumped on the Mavs bandwagon, as I think it would be sad to see any team in any sport simply be able to buy a championship. Go Mavs!!!

      • rbrown4495 - May 27, 2011 at 8:53 AM

        Look at who has the highest payrolls in the league my man, LAKERS. You will find it hard to prove that a team that isnt in the top 5 with the highest payroll can win a championship, It just doesnt happen often my man. You have to pay to roll with the big boys

      • miami4allday - May 27, 2011 at 11:01 AM

        Like how Jerry WEST gave the Kobe and the Laker Pau Gasol ???
        Or how boston got allen and garnett for nothing

    • alltimeballa - May 27, 2011 at 9:07 AM

      rbrown….they have disappeared like the bulls 13 point lead!!!!

      • rbrown4495 - May 27, 2011 at 9:45 AM


    • davidly - May 27, 2011 at 11:46 AM

      Ha! No doubt there are Heat-haters. But may I introduce you to the concept of a Heat-hater-hater. This is someone who is on the lookout for Heat hate to such an extent that they see it where it doesn’t exist.

      To wit: You took one of your own to task further down the page just because he was suggesting how the Bulls might have been better equipped to challenge Miami in this series. hnirobert3 was just sports’ speculatin’. Nothing to take to seriously. It’s just sports.

      And yet you were so ready to lambaste Heat-hate, that you took to task in true “blah-blah yadda yadda” fashion a Miami fan who was just being a good sport and giving the Bulls their props.

      Fight the hate-haters!-D

  8. purdueman - May 27, 2011 at 8:40 AM

    It’s been painfully obvious that you just can’t put the NBA’s overall most naturally gifted athlete (Le Bum), on Derrick Rose who’d a full half a foot shorter without having another scoring option, so it should come as NO surprise that the Bulls lost four in a row once the Heat figured that out.

    Nonetheless the young Bulls WAY exceeded pre-season expectations and this will prove to be a good growing experience for them, and put enormous pressure on the Bulls front office to find a legitimate #2 guard shooter to complement Rose (meaning that he’d better be at least 6’5″ tall, because we all saw in game 4 that you can’t pair Rose up with Shorty Watson).

    I’ve now just jumped on the Dallas Mavericks bandwagon officially! Go Mavs!!!

    • hnirobert3 - May 27, 2011 at 9:00 AM

      The series would have been way different if the Bulls had made a trade for someone like Mayo or even Battier. Hindsight is 20/20, but maybe they should have target Rudy Gay instead of Wade during the free agency sweepstake. The Bulls will be fine. Good team, good city, good coach and good cornerstone with Rose.

      • rbrown4495 - May 27, 2011 at 9:51 AM

        U r right, and if Boston would have kept Perkins they would have challenged the Heat better and if Rudy Gay would not have been hurt the grizzlies might have beat the Thunder and if Portland didnt have so many injuries they would have challenged for the championship and if D Howard played for the Lakers they would be great and if…….Yada Yada Yada

      • purdueman - May 27, 2011 at 11:01 AM

        hniro… the Bulls tried to acquire Mayo at the trade deadline, but the dufuss who owns the Grizzlies won’t under any circumstances make a deal with the Bulls. The guys from Chicago and when he bought the Grizzlies it was with his intent to move them to Chicago and make Chicago a two NBA franchise city, but the Bulls wanted no part of that. He’s reportedly still in big time grudge mode.

      • miami4allday - May 27, 2011 at 11:04 AM

        yeah I hate when people come on here with all that IF IF IF IF IF IF IF IF

    • davidly - May 27, 2011 at 9:11 AM

      It’s been painfully obvious that you just can’t put the NBA’s overall most naturally gifted athlete (Le Bum), on Derrick Rose who’d a full half a foot shorter without having another scoring option, so it should come as NO surprise that the Bulls lost four in a row once the Heat figured that out.

      I think that Spoelstra took a page from the championship-coach’s handbook (Riley, Jackson, Popp, et al) by keeping this to himself until the playoffs arrived.

    • barkley4life - May 27, 2011 at 10:55 AM

      It’s painfully obvious that your trying to sound like a basketball purist(aka bitter white guy) and your basketball knowledge is minimal at best. Unless its pure hate talking the NBA’s most gifted athlete is all the NBA’s best all around player HANDS DOWN.

      But I have feeling you relate better to slowfooted Dirk and know hes your savior…get your head out the clouds…Lebron defended Rose not because he was bigger…but because he was better…or do you think that can just get any 6’8 guy to guard smaller quicker PG’s.


      • purdueman - May 27, 2011 at 1:56 PM

        barkley… you wouldn’t know a solid basketball post from a bad one.

        I hate this time of the day when all of the nutcases on the funny farm are given access to the internet by their handlers. barkley… isn’t it just about time for your morning bath?

  9. thereeldeel - May 27, 2011 at 8:51 AM

    Oh like the Yankees?

  10. southbeachtalent - May 27, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    Wow what a finish. The Bulls played great the whole game and their defense was sick. Can you imagine if LeBron would have missed that last free throw like Rose did?!?? He would have gotten crucified today! Regardless great series with the Bulls, even though Miami pulled it out in 5 the Bulls played them hard every step of the way. Now on to Dirk!

  11. coltsfanindc - May 27, 2011 at 9:23 AM

    Chicago played tough. I would love to know what d rose’s time in the 40 is. But its so good to be a Heat fan today. my coworkers talked sooo much sh*t when they were losing to boston and chicago. blown out by the spurs in march. crygate. its been a journey Heat fans. just hope we can get 4 more wins. Dirk is playing out of his mind.

  12. thejokewriter - May 27, 2011 at 9:44 AM


    Okay, a few questions. How come every Bull big man when they get the ball in the paint feel they have to dribble it once before taking the shot. You can go back to Tom Boerwinkle and see the same thing. TAKE THE FREAKING SHOT. Second…why hasn’t anybody since Jabbar developed the indefensible “sky hook?”

    I’m not talking the jump hook, I’m talking the Sky “nobody is getting within 2 freaking feet of the ball” Hook.

    Finally, is this loss akin to the Bulls losng 2 years in a row to the Pistons before they hit their stride?

    • davidly - May 27, 2011 at 9:58 AM

      Good questions:
      How come every Bull big man when they get the ball in the paint feel they have to dribble it once before taking the shot.
      My answer: Coaching/teaching. Tex Winter even had the likes of Longly and Wennington passing or going to the hoop most of the time.

      Finally, is this loss akin to the Bulls losng 2 years in a row to the Pistons before they hit their stride?
      Sadly for the Bulls, I don’t think so. Jordan and Pippen had a consistent height advantage over all their respective defenders.

  13. Waxxx4321 - May 27, 2011 at 9:45 AM

    Well i told you guys…i told you…i told you the heat would win easily….ok it wasnt easy but that was still brutal…Go heat!….look its ok to be a fan….just know your position….im an ex player….i tried out for a nba development league was under Kermit Washington a no name player who only played for for 2 years..i could dunk since i was 5 foot 7, im 6 foot 1, my boys said they saw me hit 33 three pointers in a row practicing….thats some larry bird stuff right their..however i dont remember doing that i think i had too much to drink that day….

    • davidly - May 27, 2011 at 10:04 AM

      Skibby MaRue?

    • southbeachtalent - May 27, 2011 at 10:15 AM

      Jackie Moon?

    • barkley4life - May 27, 2011 at 10:58 AM

      Hey Dumbass I know Kermit Washington….he’s was a great college player. He was a good pro. He got a bad label because of the Rudy T incident.

      You didnt pan out because you weren’t good enough…Kermit Washington was running a camp and you were just running it…..

      • Waxxx4321 - May 27, 2011 at 3:36 PM

        big comment coming from someone using Barkley name and not even their own…wannabe…and at that camp actually nobody made your the real dumbass haha

  14. bcriz - May 27, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    All other conversation and bashing the heat is pointless at this point and time. Heat are in the finals…Boston was going to beat them, then they was no way they would get past the bulls….beat boston 4-1 beat the bulls 4-1….good job haters.

    call me a bandwagon all you want. But i have lived in Miami my whole life. And yes it is possible that we were fans of the team before they got James and Bosh. Heat in 5 for the championship is my guess.

    Bulls are a great team, just not good enough…yet

    • rbrown4495 - May 27, 2011 at 9:55 AM

      I hope u r right but I think its gonna be tougher than that bcriz. It could just as well be a 7 game series.

  15. miami4allday - May 27, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    Well here we go now! Charles Barkley is saying now, we wont beat the Mavs, because they can score, unlike the Choka-Bulls. However, he forgot to mention that Mavs play in the west, were no real defense is played. So dont think that they will be putting up 100+points every game in this series. WE Play D!!! And oh yeah they also have to stop us, we just beat and scored on the two best defenses in the NBA during the last two rounds. So Charles keep hating on the Heat, you should be hating on Jordan he is the main reason your BUM ass does not have a ring. Its KING JAMES year!

    • southbeachtalent - May 27, 2011 at 12:05 PM

      Barkley would pick Timberwolves over the Heat..

  16. philabadboy - May 27, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    Why does everyone keep saying Miami bought Championship? I didnt know so much hate can occur on a single team WoW

  17. philabadboy - May 27, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    All the Heat Fans Stand Up !!

  18. jeffnmac - May 27, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    The miami heat have assdmbled a great team over the last 12 months. They were also the same team that was doubted to even make the playoffs early in the season. Lebron james, dwayne wade, and chris bosh are too good to all be cold on the same night. The mavericks are a great team and the finals will be great to watch. Unfortunately for dallas fans this will not end in their favor and King James WILL get his first ring.

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