Round 3, Game 4 (Miami v Chicago)

I don’t want to be that snot that says “I told you so,” but the truth is that I did, so I’m going to take this opportunity to gloat.  If you don’t like listening to (or reading of, as the case may be) my bragging, then you probably need to find another blog to read.

Miami is simply more talented than Chicago and anyone who doubts it needs to re-watch the last three games in succession three times over.  In every one, Chicago has played its heart out, pushed itself to the limit, made heroic defensive efforts, incredible offensive plays… and still found itself on the short end of the stick.  Tonight was more of the same.  Chicago clung to a trifling lead throughout most of the second half after bravely fighting back from a 9 point deficit.  They fought for every loose ball and defended as well as possible, even drawing a charge on Lebron to prevent him from even attempting a game-winner in regulation.

And it was all for naught as the SuperFriends teamed up for 71 points, including all 16 the Heat scored in OT (the Heat also scored 16 in the entire 1st period), as the Bulls’ valiant effort wore themselves down.  Four of Chicago’s players played 44 or more minutes including the hapless Luol Deng who put up this unreal box score: 20 points on 8/16 shooting, 8 boards, 2 assists, 3 steals and even a pair of blocks – all while defending the unguardable Lebron James.

Chicago just had no answers for Miami’s athleticism.  Throughout the game, Miami would occasionally manage to get easy shots around the basket in the half-court game.  The same could not be said in the slightest of Chicago whose only dunks and layups came with Miami players hanging all over them or on hustle plays – on loose balls and in transition.  Even with Wade and James overplaying on every conceivable pass, the Bulls still couldn’t find a shot in close.  But where Miami’s talent became most evident to me was in the waning minutes of a close game, when Chicago was substituting on every dead ball, going offense for defense, Miami played the same 5 guys for at least the last 10 minutes of the game with nary a substitution.  There was nothing Chicago could do.

By the overtime, the Bulls were spent – physically as well as emotionally.  Three bad turnovers by Chicago and the game was over.  They played as hard as they possibly could, if not as well, and had left it all on the court only to see Miami up the ante on every occasion.  I cannot think of a more demoralizing loss for a team – any team.  Even Derrick Rose, Chicago’s savior, their new Michael, was helpless going just 8 of 27 from the field (a wretched 30%) with just 6 assists and 7 turnovers.  In 3 losses to the Heat, Rose is shooting just 33% averaging 21ppg.  Even his monster dunks (all three) could not save the Bulls from the inevitable fate of being overmatched in ever regard.

The turning point of this game was Rose’s awful airball at the end of regulation – his second missed jump shot with the game tied in the final 40 seconds.  Both times, Lebron James, a 6’10”, 270 pound played perfect defense on maybe the quickest point guard in the league.  There was nothing Rose could do on either play, but meekly fall away from the basket, throwing up prayers.  With the miss to send the game to overtime, Miami had the momentum and Chicago, who had been playing on all adrenaline was drained.  Although it took about 2 minutes for either team to score in the overtime, that was Chicago’s best shot at winning – and it was an airball.

The player of the game goes to Lebron James and none other.  As much as I hate Lebron, the Decision and everything he stands for, you cannot bash his performance in this game.  Lebron dominated the scene offensively in 3 of the 4 quarters and also made key defensive stops down the stretch on Rose to give Miami the win.  Honorable mention: Luol Deng and Mike Miller (okay, not actually player of the game material, but vitally crucial to Miami’s victory tonight; 12-9).

Going forward, I do have to believe that the Bulls can pull out one final hurrah in Chicago before their candle meekly burns out back in Miami for game six, and since that is what I predicted, I’m sticking to my guns.  But honestly, just as I said about OKC, it’s hard to imagine them having anything to give in game 5, having had their most earnest effort spat upon by a subpar night from Wade, a 3-man bench rotation and a no-offense Joel Anthony patrolling the paint for 30 minutes.  The Bulls gave 100% and the Heat gave about 80.  I’m not saying the Bulls played as well as they could possibly play, but I am saying that you couldn’t expect them to play much better.  Sure, they could cut down on turnovers and missed shots, but many of those were due to the way they forced the issue in transition and their absolute inability to find good shots in the half-court game.

The SuperFriends are on the precipice of doing what they set out to do, and it’s a shame and a travesty.  Don’t let anyone fool you, the Decision and what it has done (and will continue to do) to the NBA is resoundingly negative.  And that makes this (potential) Chicago loss (and the Boston one before it) so difficult to swallow – sometimes the “good guys” just don’t win.

Yours Truly,

Basketblogger

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