Against this Chicago Bulls team, however, mercy does not apply.
The Bulls were brimming with confidence off of their stunning Game 1 victory that came on the heels of a Game 7 road victory in the first round.
But the Miami Heat aren’t the Brooklyn Nets. They’re not like many teams. I’m sure we’ve been over this before. Which is why you shouldn’t be surprised that Miami would go into Game 2 with a refined identity and unnecessary bulletin board material.
A 115-78 victory by the Heat represents the largest margin of victory in a postseason game for Miami, as well as the biggest loss in Bulls’ postseason history. This game had message sent all over it.
Chicago was held to 18 points in the paint. Did I mention that this is a team that is composed of one of the better frontcourts in the league? Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer were held to a combined 21 points (6-of-16 from the field) and ten rebounds.
Noah and Taj Gibson would eventually be thrown out, which came as no surprise from the tone that was established early on. Shots were exchanged from both sides, with Chicago starting many of the scraps and Miami finishing them.
Nine technical fouls were handed out, as well as one flagrant foul. Noah and Gibson both earned their ejections off the second technical. Nate Robinson and Marquis Teague were also assessed technicals.
LeBron James, Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade were also whistled. Chris Andersen earned the flagrant after an obvious shoulder-bump into Marco Belinelli.
Aside from the chippiness, there was a masterful game being played by the Miami Heat, who scored 56 points in the paint and shot 60 percent from the field on one of the NBA’s most feared defenses.
Miami also converted half of its 18 three-point attempts, including a perfect 4-of-4 from a fired-up Norris Cole, who finished with 18 points. He and Nate Robinson, held to 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting, jawed at each other throughout the first half but saw it recede after Cole drained consecutive three-pointers to close the first half.
Robinson didn’t say much after that. He, and the entire Bulls team, could only sit and watch in awe as the Heat offense that shot 39 percent in Game 1 dissected their elite defense.
The Heat were led by Ray Allen’s 21 points, needing only seven shots and getting to the line ten times. LeBron James needed 32 points and his statline of 19 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals cannot put a fair assessment on the impact he had tonight.
James facilitated Miami on both sides of the court. While Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh needed a half to settle in, James was there to support the team with 12 first quarter points on 6-of-6 shooting, all coming in the paint.
LeBron would be held scoreless in the second half, but he didn’t have to look for his shot. Miami would run off an 11-0 run midway through the third quarter to open up a 28-point lead.
Wade and Bosh would finish off strong; Dwyane ending with 15 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds, Chris with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Miami outscored Chicago 90-57 over the final three quarters.
The Heat were also finally able to get off the snide when it came to three-point shooting. After failing to convert on multiple open opportunities in Game 1, the Heat picked their spots and hit them often.
Mario Chalmers was able to respond to a poor Game 1 with two three-pointers to go along with 11 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
The Bulls were held to two field-goals for the final 8:54 of the third and wouldn’t hit a third until a Nazr Mohammed bank shot with 9:53 left in the fourth. By that point, the Heat had opened up a 39-point lead.
Even with the ‘Big Three’ riding the bench, the Heat’s bench mob were able to open up a staggering 46-point lead following a Chris Andersen free throw.
It’s safe to say this game was more like it. Although such a titanic victory wasn’t expected, Miami’s defense being able to corral Chicago’s 24th-ranked offense was to be anticipated.
Chicago shot 35 percent from the field. They converted a better percentage at the three-point line (39 percent). It’s tough to convert a respectable percentage when 77 percent of the Bulls’ 78 points came off of points outside of the paint.
Miami’s defense swarmed a Bulls’ offense that was once again without Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich. Without two players who can create off the dribble, Chicago’s offense was mostly left to Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson jumpers from far away.
Former Heat, and three-point shooting champion, played 21 minutes and managed to miss all six of his three-pointers. Chicago is running out of ideas and Derrick Rose isn’t solving any problem at this point.
Miami has responded well to the past two times they were facing a 1-0 deficit in a postseason series. They won four consecutive games, including against the Chicago Bulls in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals.
They visit Chicago on Friday.