In the 2010 off-season the Bulls and Heat had the same goal, they both had cleared cap space and were going to make a run at signing the class of the big name free agents. Miami signed the individual superstars and Chicago signed the team orientated players that their defense first system required. In 2011, and with end of an era looming in Boston, the Bulls and Heat will be seeing a lot more of each other in the latter rounds of the playoffs and we may just be seeing the birth of a rivalry that will burn for seasons to come.
Game 1 between the East’s new super powers was taken by the Bulls, as the team overcame the individual superstars. We take a look at 7 factors from this game that will prove to be keys to the series:
1. Offensive Rebounding
The Bulls average 44 rebounds a game including 13 on the offensive glass. In game 1 against Miami, Chicago pulled down 45 boards, of which a staggering 19 were on the offensive glass, resulting in 31 second chance points. If the Bulls continue to control the glass they will win the series.
2. Second Chance Shots
The Bulls 19 offensive rebounds meant they outshot the Heat 87-68 and they also shot 5 more free-throws.
3. The corner three-pointer
Chicago’s swarming defense does allow shooters to have success from the corners. In the three regular season games between these two teams, Miami shot 50% (7-14) from this spot, but they didn’t even attempt a single corner three in game 1. The Heat preferred to go inside, which played to the Bulls strength. James Jones could be a major x-factor in this series should he set up shop in the corners.
4. The mid-range jumpshot
In the regular season, Miami made 42% of shots outside of the lane and up to the three point line (10-23feet). In three games versus the Bulls in the regular season, they made only 35% of their mid-range jumpers (31-89), and in game 1 that sunk to a woeful 23% (6-26). The lion-share of these misses was from LeBron going 5-15 and Dwyane Wade shooting 7-17.
|Regular season average||42%|
|Regular season vs Chicago||35%|
|2011 Playoffs Game 1||23%|
5. Getting to the rim
In game 1, when the Heat got to with 3 feet of the basket they shot 72% (18-25), which is better than their 66% regular season average. Unfortunately when they weren’t getting in to the restricted area, they shot a measly 32% (14-43). Chris Bosh put together a solid 30 point outing, making nine of nine shots from within 3 feet, as Chicago seemed content to let him score and focus their attention on limiting James and Wade.
After turning the ball over 8 times in the first half and with Derrick Rose criticizing himself for committing four of them, Chicago only turned the ball over once after the break compared to Miami’s 16 for the game.
7. Luol Deng
He plays an average of 44 minutes a game and is way more than defensive specialist. The perfect foil to Derrick Rose, Deng dropped 21 points in game 1, including 4-6 from behind the three-point line. He also grabbed 7 rebounds and 4 steals to put togther a solid game and remind us just how under-rated he really is.
The team won game 1, the individual superstars will have to make several adjustments for Game 2, otherwise the Bulls win win this series easily.