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Bulls beat Heat in overtime, but neither team looks ready for the playoffs

Apr 13, 2012, 12:03 AM EDT

Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls Getty Images

The Bulls and the Heat are far and away the top two teams in the Eastern Conference standings, so it’s only natural that their nationally televised tilt on Thursday night would be billed as a potential preview of the conference finals. But if either of them play the way they did in this one for an extended period during the playoffs, they’ll be lucky to make it that far.

Chicago outlasted Miami in overtime 96-86, but with Derrick Rose struggling on the night to finish with just two points and eight assists in 25 minutes on 1-of-13 shooting, and Miami finishing with just two points on free throws while failing to score from the field in the extra session, neither team impressed or looked even a little bit like one that could contend for the championship.

Rose played for the Bulls, but was largely ineffective. Unless he can stay on the floor for the remainder of the regular season to build some chemistry with his teammates, Chicago, despite having the league’s best regular season record, may be faced with challenges that it isn’t prepared to deal with as early as the second round of the playoffs.

Miami, meanwhile, has its own issues.

LeBron James finished with 30 points on 11-of-24 shooting, but missed a free throw with 11.4 seconds left that could have made it a two-possession game. That left the door open for C.J. Watson to tie it with a three near the end of regulation, but those are just small details in the big picture of problems that Miami faces as the playoffs rapidly approach.

The Heat continue to tinker with lineups and rotations at this late point in the regular season, seemingly unsure of who fits where, especially where the team’s bigs are concerned. Udonis Haslem got the start in this one, but played just 11 minutes while the bulk of the time at his position was given to Ronny Turiaf off the bench. Joel Anthony saw a few minutes of action too, after receiving a DNP-CD in Tuesday’s loss to the Celtics.

Shane Battier played 31 minutes off the bench for the Heat, and while few would argue with his basketball IQ, it’s fairly clear that he’s no longer an effective on-court player at this point, especially in extended minutes for a team trying to get to the Finals. Battier’s defense hasn’t lived up to its inflated reputation in years, and on this night, he was a game-worst -34 in the plus-minus statistic that, admittedly, is only useful when one wants it to be.

The outcome of this game wasn’t important for its impact on the regular season standings, but it did say something about where these two teams are as we head towards the playoffs.

The Bulls are firmly in control of the one-seed in the East heading into the postseason, with this win helping them solidify a four-game lead over the Heat in the standings. Miami doesn’t figure to fall out of the two-spot, sitting comfortably in second place, four and a half games ahead of the Pacers.

Neither of the beasts of the Eastern Conference have anything to play for in the season’s final two weeks in terms of playoff positioning. But they both have plenty of work to do to prepare for that postseason run.

Boston and New York are the teams playing the most cohesive brand of basketball right now; both are hot, and both are to be feared. Despite the regular season success sustained by both Miami and Chicago, the top teams in the conference (at least on paper) have a lot to figure out before the playoffs begin if they’re going to position themselves to make that expected run deep into the postseason.

  1. bozosforall - Apr 13, 2012 at 12:13 AM

    Bulls rule the Eastern Conference. Coach Thibs is, by far, the best coach in the East. Teams like Boston have no chance.

    • doctorhoops - Apr 13, 2012 at 10:46 AM

      The Celtics bell rings, and Pavlov’s Dog shows up immediately, drooling the usual stuff… This would make a fascinating psychological study. Perhaps he was scared by a Celtic in his crib…

      • bozosforall - Apr 16, 2012 at 11:17 AM

        Perhaps doctorhoops was abused as a child by one or more of the local Boston priests.

  2. peppers55 - Apr 13, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    sorry double post.

  3. aheezybaby - Apr 13, 2012 at 12:30 AM

    so wait are you telling me both teams wont make it far because they play great defense? when your shots arent dropping you still can win games by playing good defense…think before you write…you get paid for this?

    • Brett Pollakoff - Apr 13, 2012 at 12:52 AM

      You need defense, sure. But you have to combine that with offensive execution, and while the Heat have shown they can do that at times, Chicago seems to be struggling with that as the team tries to get reacquainted with Rose. Check out Boston’s win over the Heat the other night; that’s a perfect example of the effort it takes to win playoff basketball.

      • david0303 - Apr 13, 2012 at 1:57 AM

        Brett tell me a team that will break down Chicago’s D and outscore them right now. Boston is hot right now but Chicago is an overall better team. C’mon you know better than that

      • gmsingh - Apr 13, 2012 at 7:45 AM

        Chicago has “seemed to be struggling” all year, while posting the best record in the NBA for two years in a row. Chicago doesn’t have a LeBron or a Kevin Durant or a Kobe Bryant or a Carmelo Anthony to step up and score 30 or 40 points. They do it in a way that makes David Stern sick: with unselfish basketball, minus the superstars and hype that sells merchandise. Thibs may just be the best coach to enter the league in at least the past 20 years–why not just give them their props? Even if they don’t make it to the finals–and I’m reasonably sure they will–what they have done in the regular season has been *amazing*.

      • williegault - Apr 13, 2012 at 10:06 AM

        The Celtics will not duplicate that effort for the rest of the year.

        Check the stats from 16-23 feet… They shot like 70%. League average is less than 40%.

        They got hot. If you want us to assume you can’t make it deep in the playoffs without posting your best night of the year every single game, I don’t think you understand how “best game of the year” works.

        Whaddayawant next? 80% from midrange? To think Kevin Garnett going 12-14 (or whatever ridiculous reminiscent-of-1999 number you want him to post) is going to happen again, fuhgeddaboutit.

        Celts are out in Round 2.

    • pudgalvin - Apr 13, 2012 at 7:51 AM

      Giving up 107 is playoff basketball, or giving up 90 in overtime is playoff basketball?

    • cosanostra71 - Apr 13, 2012 at 9:46 AM

      gmsingh- Chicago doesn’t have a LeBron or a Kevin Durant or a Kobe Bryant or a Carmelo Anthony to step up and score 30 or 40 points? What do you consider Derrick Rose?

      • rawgator06 - Apr 13, 2012 at 10:56 AM

        overrated?

      • gmsingh - Apr 14, 2012 at 9:35 AM

        Injured.

        Oh, and look at his point totals.

  4. pastorstevelarson - Apr 13, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    Well done Brett. I’m not sure, was this Derrick’s first game back? If so, I’d cut him a little slack, but I’ve watched both games of the heat/Celtics and I’m not sure if it is a matchup problem or a hustle problem. Both times, I saw the Heat getting beat on back door plays where they just looked out of position.

    I still don’t know if James can close games or playoff series. It’s not how many free throws you miss, it’s when you miss them. That last one had to be another chink in his confidence.

  5. dirtybird2020 - Apr 13, 2012 at 1:51 AM

    We just beat ny, and boston what the heck is with this article!?!? It was a grind out game with of course playing like crap after sitting so long, thats like this writer of this article getting laid off and coming back with this crap as his first article back, bulls can beat any team in east, miami clearly dont have the depth at any 1 position, love how shaq bashed bosh hahaha heat blow lechoke blows no points in overtime what a joke

  6. asublimeday - Apr 13, 2012 at 2:35 AM

    That sound is bull balls slapping lebron on the forehead.

    • williegault - Apr 13, 2012 at 10:08 AM

      Chin… Slapping him on the chin.

      Not sure why the bulls would be banging his receding hairline.

  7. lemfax - Apr 13, 2012 at 6:46 AM

    Spurs vs Heat

    • lyndseymarieee - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:45 AM

      While the Spurs have been playing great basketball lately, I don’t think they have the energy to make it to the finals.

  8. mrbiz8505 - Apr 13, 2012 at 7:15 AM

    You act like Boston can shoot over 60% from the field every night….

  9. florida727 - Apr 13, 2012 at 7:20 AM

    “The outcome of this game wasn’t important for its impact on the regular season standings…”

    ———————————————————————

    Seriously? A Miami win and they’d have been within ONE game in the loss column, with another matchup scheduled for next week in Miami. With Miami’s loss, the Heat now have to count on the Bulls losing four times in their last seven games, while Miami runs the table to get home court advantage. This game was COMPLETELY about an impact on the regular season standings. Your basketball IQ is a bit lacking, Mr. Pollakoff.

  10. 1972wasalongtimeago - Apr 13, 2012 at 8:28 AM

    I need a psychiatrist

    • reupjosh - Apr 13, 2012 at 1:15 PM

      You need to bandwagon on another team.

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - Apr 13, 2012 at 7:29 PM

        Dude… you should know better by now. Win or lose. Thick or thin. Victory parade on Biscayne Blvd or Draft Lottery in Secaucs NJ. Til death do we part.

        ….and THAT is why I need a psychiatrist.

    • reupjosh - Apr 13, 2012 at 1:22 PM

      Having all that money tied up in Chris Bosh must sting…

  11. hwatt - Apr 13, 2012 at 8:33 AM

    BULLS NEED TO DROP D-ROSE THEY ARE BETTER WITHOUT HIM THIS IS LIKE PEYTON MANNING W THE COLTS

    JUST KIDDING.

    But I do give props to Thibs for benching him. How many coaches out there will bench a 96 million dollar player in the most important game of the season so far? Not all of them, I’ll bet.

    Seriously how does the Bulls or Heat ‘fear’ the Knicks?? the bulls squashed them quietly just earlier this week and they needed incredible heroism just to barely beat them in OT on Sunday. Lin and Stoudemire won’t even be in the playoffs, if they do they’ll be benched for rust just like Rose was. Given enough games I could see them being the 3rd or 4th best team in the east depending on what the Celtics do… maybe next year. They’re screwed in the playoffs this year unless the 3,4,5,6,7 seeds collapse

    I will give you the Heat fearing the Celtics, though, based on head-to-head evidence this season.

    • williegault - Apr 13, 2012 at 10:10 AM

      Additionally, Knicks are playing playoff defense right now.

      AKA “hack the crap out of the guy and hope the refs don’t call it”

      Luckily for them, the refs have been reffing NYK games like it’s the playoffs, and NOT calling those Shumpert swipes.

      Just wait until every team starts to play that way. If you think the Knicks will go far, you also think Melo will post record playoff stats… Then I think I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you for cheap.

  12. tampajoey - Apr 13, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    Lebron STILL needs MORE HELP! He should take his talents to the Harlem Globetrotters since they’re always scheduled to win.

  13. bozosforall - Apr 13, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    Once again, a PBT writer slurping the overrated Celtics. The Bulls are gonna crush them in the playoffs.

  14. daniel10017 - Apr 13, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    from the Miami Heat PA announcer come October 2012: And your coach for the Miami Heat: Pat Riley!

  15. philtration - Apr 13, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    So the teams with the best records in the East face each other and go to overtime but now they are supposed to fear Boston and New York?
    Why?
    The Bulls may not make it past the 2nd round because Rose looked bad after playing in one or two games in the last month?
    This WAS playoff basketball but I guess that you do not recognize great defense when you see it. LeBron did not choke in the 4th quarter and OT. Gibson and Asik just played killer D and Wade had to pull a couple of circus shots out of his a**.
    Those were tough, contested shots and he hit them.
    Also… please don’t give us this crap about the game not meaning anything.
    Home court and seeding match ups DO matter.

    I could watch the Bulls and the Heat play each other all 82 games for the year and be happy with that.

  16. steelerfanforlife - Apr 13, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    Just looking for comments Brett?? How anyone could watch this game and not get a sense of playoff basketball is beyond me! 2 great defenses and you wonder why everyone was struggling to score?! Seriously? No you just joking right?

  17. chitownmatt - Apr 13, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    Wait a second,
    You take the two best defensive teams in the league put them together for an epic matchup that may well decide where they play game 7 of the ECF’s and you are “Surprised” that their offenses seemed out of sink and struggling.?.?.?.?

    SERIOUSLY??? WHAT DO YOU THINK GREAT DEFENSE DOES?

  18. rawgator06 - Apr 13, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    Do ANY of you remember the regular season last year? You know, when the heat were struggling? Do any of you remember the series with the Bulls? Jesus, Heat haters and Chicago fanboys have such short memories. Nobody in the East can last with the Heat for a whole series

    • chitownmatt - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:18 AM

      Bring It On!!!

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Apr 13, 2012 at 1:13 PM

      Nobody’s more if a Heat supporter/apologist than me. But it’s tough to have confidencevthat this team can get out of the second round. Can’t win 2 on 5.

  19. mrbiz8505 - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    Bulls 7 Heat 1

    That 96-97 playoffs….I can talk about the past too

  20. asublimeday - Apr 13, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    Do ANY of you remember the regular season last year? You know, when the heat were struggling? Do any of you remember the series with the Bulls? Jesus, Heat haters and Chicago fanboys have such short memories. Nobody in the East can last with the Heat for a whole series
    —————-

    This bulls team is flat out better than last year, and this heat team looks worse. I’d be very scared if I were a fair-weather heat fan (redundant, I know)

  21. dirtybird2020 - Apr 13, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    Its funny heat fans havent realized its a new year, everything i hear from heat jockhuggers is last year this last year that, last year you lost in the finals and some how your gonna win them this year playing way worse, i win a 100 dollar bet last night thanks heat fir sucking, and a special thanks to lebron choking at the freethrow line! Heat fans blow dont see them a whole lot lately, not even true fans, beach bums lose to the chicago bullys, oh and LAST YEAR i remember the the heat crying in the locker room after losing to the bullys, thats the story of your season year, soft as hell!

  22. lakerluver - Apr 13, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    Don’t worry “Heatle” fans they will flip the proverbial switch come playoffs. Yeah, that’s the same load of crap I kept saying last year about my LAKERS!! The Heat were better LAST season. This season they will not even make it to the Finals. I can’t wait to hear all the excuses after they come up short again!! LBJ was right, NOT 1, 2, 3…………… No titles for “supposedly” the greatest team since the SHOWTIME LAKERS of the 80’s!!

  23. joelito19 - Apr 15, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    What are the Bulls doing different this year from last year? Nothing much. They played hard last year and they’re playing hard this year. They only reason you guys won was because Prince James gave them life with a missed free throw. Seven Game Series? Relax. You guys lost 4-1 last year, so all of a sudden theres been a three game improvement? Gimmie a break. Heat vs Western Conference Champion.

  24. dirtybird2020 - Apr 15, 2012 at 10:09 PM

    Another idiot with last year comments, last year mavs beat you bums this year mavs will not probaly make 2nd round, anyone who calls lbj king james litterally blows, get used to it when you cant flip a switch on come playoffs its gets ugly, oh and what changed simce last year with bulls is we dont need rose to beat you fags, but rose will be a nice addition and icing on the cake come playoffs! Do your research before you starting sucking off the man you call king!

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