Where do we even begin?
I chose to wait a few hours after waking up this otherwise stupendous morning, allowing my emotions to simmer and perspective to sit in.
After an hour of my own game of basketball and a few episodes of Mad Men, I am still seething angry that the Miami Heat lost at home to a decimated Chicago Bulls team that should have had no business even being in a competitive game with.
Chicago works hard and they matchup well with this Heat team, but Nate Robinson going off for 27 points (24 in the second half) and 9 assists while Dwyane Wade goes scoreless in the second half and needs 16 shots to score 14 points is an embarrassment.
The fact that Robinson, making less than a million dollars this season, was the second-best player on the floor last night displays more than the majority of the Heat roster suffering from rust. It’s also Chicago’s defense and an overall lack of smart basketball and mind-boggling execution down the stretch that also deserves plenty of the blame.
But Robinson taking 10 free throws, as well as Jimmy Butler taking 10 himself, while Wade doesn’t get to the line for a single attempt isn’t just rust.
It’s a lack of aggression and a 24-minute disappearance, capped off with one of the most ill-advised three-point attempts you’ll ever see, that can be attributed to a performance as the one we saw last night from one of the greatest postseason players in NBA history.
But it wasn’t just Wade. Each player on this Heat team can take a brunt of the blame for the loss.
From a first half that featured Shane Battier and Mike Miller combining for at least four wide-open three-pointers being missed to a 10-0 Bulls’ run to end the game capped off by Robinson going down the middle for an easy layup, there was no rhyme or reason to anything Miami did last night.
Chicago scored 35 points in the fourth quarter. They finished 29th in the league in points per game in the regular season. A team without Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich should not be doing that.
Hell, even a Bulls team with Deng and Hinrich shouldn’t be doing that against this Miami team. Despite Chicago being not even two days removed from a wire-to-wire Game 7 road win, they were the team that had the fresh legs making the necessary shots late in the game.
Meanwhile, the Heat ran 2011 offense with simple isolation plays and low-percentage jumpers, including Wade’s first three-pointer of the postseason in a two-point game with a little over a minute remaining. Robinson drove for a layup on the other end to put the game on ice.
Robinson was getting matched up with pretty ideal assignments late. Rather than having a stellar on-ball defender in Cole, Nate was being defended by the slow feet of Chalmers and Allen.
Nate played 41 minutes, while Norris was limited to 17 minutes. He shot 3-of-4, but was benched for most of the game so Chalmers (1-of-5 from the field, 0-of-2 from deep, 3-of-6 from the foul line) could continually get burnt by Robinson.
Allen also took a turn defending Robinson, also proving wildly unsuccessful on both ends of the floor. He finished with nine points, but shot only 1-of-4 from beyond the arc and 2-of-7 from the field.
The poor three-point shooting was a trend. While LeBron’s first half numbers look well below his usual averages, he was repeatedly setting up the team’s numerous sharpshooters for excellent looks against a Chicago team that does not allow many good looks.
Alas, the likes of Battier and Mike Miller failed to generate any type of offense. Shane was 2-of-7 from the perimeter and Miller was 1-of-4. Overall, the Heat’s three best perimeter shooters combined to hit 4-of-15 on mostly great looks.
Miami shot 29 percent on 24 three-point attempts and 68 percent on 25 free throws. Not to mention the 39 percent they shot as a team. Meanwhile, the Bulls hit 39 percent of 18 usually well-defended three-pointers and converted 83 percent of their free throws.
It’s all the little things adding up. Forget the final minutes of the game. If Miller or Battier splash in another wide-open three-pointer or Chalmers doesn’t go 0-for-2 at the line, which would have given Miami an eight-point lead with 3:57 remaining in the third, we’re not moping around the city and waiting for Wednesday to get here.
Those bricked free throws by Mario seemed to be a turning point of the game. Miami was on a 9-0 run with the opportunity to push the lead into the dangerous area of double-digits, but were met with a run that cut Miami’s lead to four heading into the fourth.
What else went wrong? Besides LeBron James scoring 2 points on 1-for-6 shooting in the first half? At least he got it going late with 15 fourth quarter points, scoring all but nine of Miami’s points in the quarter.
James also had 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 1 block and was one of the few Heat players aggressive enough to get to the line, getting nine free throws in all.
Still, it was strange to see LeBron not take advantage of his assignment early on, Butler, who had not sat out a single minute of Games 6 and 7 against Brooklyn, and didn’t sit out any of Game 1 against Miami.
The third member of the Big Three, Chris Bosh, had a night he, as well as everyone in the South Florida community, would like to forget.
In 29 foul-plagued minutes, Bosh scored 9 points on 10 shots, grabbed 6 rebounds, blocked 2 shots, and was as passive on offense as we’ve seen in weeks. Against Joakim Noah, Bosh hardly looked to drive on the Bulls’ center suffering from plantar fasciitis and mainly wandered along the perimeter.
He took two three-pointers, converting one. Surprisingly, that’s the best anyone can really say outside of Norris Cole hitting his only attempt.
Fortunately, these playoffs aren’t decided by a game. Luckily, there are seven games to decide a winner and it’s unlikely the Heat miss the type of looks they were getting or fail to adjust to defending pick-and-rolls another three times.
For now we move on, shake off the rust and look forward to Wednesday night.