After the recent string of bad games for the Chicago Bulls against the Houston Rockets, Washington Wizards, and Charlotte Bobcats, expectations for the first matchup with the Miami Heat game of the 2012-2013 season were colossally low. Many Bulls fans, myself included, were expecting a big loss especially with the news that Lebron was going to play tonight. As the results in the post title indicate, I was wrong.
By no means did the win come easy. As usual, the Bulls struggled offensively continuing their streak as one of the league's worst offensive teams. This was especially highlighted in the fourth quarter when the Bulls made 5-of-23 from the floor. So what could possibly have saved Chicago on yet another night of offensive woes? You guess it: Thibodeau ball. Each and every member of the Bulls (yes, including Boozer for a moment but more on that momentarily) fought on defense to limit Miami. Remember that horrendous fourth quarter of shooting for Chicago? The defense kept Miami at 12 shots on the quarter. But Thibodeau ball doesn't stop there. Chicago also out hustled Miami on just about every possible rebound and ultimately ended up trouncing Miami on the boards with a +20 differential. For those of you who aren't too familiar with basketball, let me put it this way: that's humiliation.
While I'm not reading too much into this Bulls game and the prospects of the team when Derrick Rose returns, I am going to take this win and revel in it for a few days, especially to a few of my bandwagon Heat fan friends.
On both ends of the floor, Noah was a machine on the floor tonight. On the offensive glass, he fought with Chris Bosh and Joel Anthony for positioning on the floor as if his life depended on it. While his shooting percentage wasn't the best, that can mostly be attributed to all the times he did get position and tried to tip the ball back into the hoop.
Defensively Noah was a workhorse (as usual since he has to make up for Boozer). He altered shots both inside and outside of the paint and made players pay for trying to score on him (ex: Lebron).
It was nice to see Noah back to his old self after the past several games.
I'm going to be that guy who's never satisfied: Where the hell was this in the playoffs the past couple of years Boozer?
For what I believe is the first time ever, Carlos Boozer has finally showed up against the Miami Heat. Offensively Boozer was unstoppable to start this game as he went seven of nine from the floor (12-of-17 overall). There were times when he was drawing triple teams. But it wasn't just shooting. Like Noah, Boozer was fighting for every rebound he could get on the offensive side (defensive too).
Defensively, Boozer was his usual whatever self until the final two minutes of the game when he made a clutch play. As Bosh (I believe) was preparing to shoot, Boozer, who was too far from being able to bother Bosh's view of the hoop, took a quick, leaning swipe at the ball and managed to knock it loose. Boozer picked it up and got it moving down court where, after a miraculous Jimmy Butler rebound, he put up an uncontested layup. It was a thing of beauty and makes me wonder if the Mayans really meant the world would end in 2013.
Excellent day for Boozer.
The numbers to the left tell us that Deng's night was pretty bad. Luckily numbers aren't the entire story. While offensively Deng did nothing, he essentially sacrificed the night to always play defense on Lebron. The plan worked. Deng played essentially 43 minutes of defense and kept Lebron contained for the majority of the game, a big part of the reason Chicago pulled out the win.
Hamilton was really a non-factor tonight. Offensively he didn't contribute too much as he only took six shots for seven points. On the plus side he managed to not hurt Chicago by repeatedly taking shots.
Defensively Rip was a tad slower than Wade which allowed Wade to get some easy looks in the paint. Outside of guarding Wade, Hamilton was pretty good defensively. So-so night for Hamilton.
Hinrich was pretty good tonight. While he didn't light it up offensively (as usual) he definitely made the right passes and got Chicago some pretty easy points. I wish I had kept track of who is assists had went to though. It would be interesting to see how many he got from Boozer's hot night.
Defensively Hinrich was fine so long as he was guarding Mario Chalmers or Norris Cole. Outside of trying to stop those two guys, Hinrich was subpar compared to what the Bulls expect him to do.
The Chicago bench came up huge tonight for the Bulls. While Nate Robinson was the only one to do major damage on the offensive end, everyone played a big role. Belinelli's constant running around was key in opening up room for others to shoot the ball. Taj Gibson was a monster defensively and on the glass. And Jimmy Butler did the standard Jimmy Butler things (aka- brilliant defensive play). Good game from the bench.
The Bulls played three miserable games and I gave Thibodeau an F grade in my last grades post (I wasn't able to do the game against the Orlando Magic). Thibodeau shut me up. His game plan against the Heat was brilliant. From keeping Deng on mostly defense to almost constantly switching up the defensive scheme from man to zone to a zone-man hybrid, he had Miami on the ropes all night. Excellent coaching from an excellent coach.
Everything above tells you why the Bulls get an A+ tonight. Also, this makeshift Bulls team managed to beat Miami without Derrick Rose. Phenomenal
What I Expect For Next Time:
- More offensive production. I'd like to see Chicago out of the bottom five of the league in offensive production. Outside of that, I loved everything I saw tonight.
Hope you all enjoyed yet another exciting Bulls-Heat game and are looking forward to the next game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, January 7th. Until then everyone!
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