Clearly, the Heat were not pleased about losing Game 1.
As a result, Chicago fans were treated to one of the worst debacles in franchise history: a 37-point loss in which the Bulls were -13 on the boards, -18 in fast break points, -21 in points off turnovers, -25 in field goal percentage and -38 in points in the paint.
It was Miami’s largest margin of victory for a postseason game. And Chicago’s worst-ever playoff defeat.
The Heat scored 130.7 points per 100 possessions (per Basketball-Reference) and used a 62-20 run (not a typo) bridging the first and second halves to crush the Bulls like insects on a windshield.
Chicago’s performance wasn’t all that got ugly in this one. There were elbows and shoves galore on both sides. Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson each received two technical fouls and both were ejected in the third quarter. Nate Robinson and and Marquis Teague were also T’d up. On Miami’s side, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Mario Chalmers all got techs.
A total of nine technical fouls in one game. And there probably could have been more. According to ESPN Stats and Information: “There were nine player technical fouls called, the most combined in a playoff game since May 7, 1995, when the Pacers and Knicks also combined for nine. The six player technical fouls by the Bulls were the most by any team in the last 20 postseasons.”
Oh, right, and the officiating was terrible overall.
The Heat put their talent on display and quick whistles prevented the Bulls from establishing the grind-it-out rhythm they prefer. James (32 minutes, 19 points, 7-for-12, 9 assists) and Wade (28 minutes, 15 points, 7-for-11, 5 assists) looked like men among boys. Norris Cole (18 points, 7-for-9, 6 rebounds) and Ray Allen (21 points, 5-for-7 from the field, 10-for-10 from the line) were nearly perfect off Miami’s bench.
And the Bulls? They may as well have caught a flight back to Chicago after Game 1.
Yes. The Heat are that good.
Yes. At times, the Bulls can be that bad.
Don’t forget, Chicago was still without Derrick Rose (knee rehab), Kirk Hinrich (calf injury) and Luol Deng (illness). And the Bulls season was full of Jeckyll and Hyde performances, beating an elite team one night, losing to a lottery team the next.
The Bulls have been facing and overcoming adversity all season by sheer force of will. Last night, their collective will was cracked by the combination of Miami’s great play and their own frustration with the officials.
Said Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau: “You come in here, you’re not gonna get calls and that’s the reality. Instead of sprinting back to get set we’re complaining to the official and they’re laying it in. … We got sidetracked and you can’t do that. … You have to have poise under pressure. You can’t allow [calls] to get you sidetracked so you don’t do your job.”
The Bulls were unhinged and the Heat pounced on them. From Miami’s perspective, it was like a feeding frenzy, with plenty of red in the water.
Added Gibson: “We lost our composure as a team. Things weren’t going our way. You’re going to get frustrated, especially when you’re getting blown out.”
The Bulls will bounce back. Thibodeau will demand it. He will not allow his players to bemoan foul calls or rough play. He won’t accept them letting the Heat be the aggressors. These are reasons — among others — that the Bulls have almost always followed a lousy performance with a strong one.
That’s not to say the Bulls will win Game 3. But they’ll sure play one hell of a lot better than they did in Game 2.
The question is: will they do it without Gibson? There remains some question about whether the profanity-laden outburst will lead to a suspension.
Said Gibson: “I hope they just see that it was frustration. I have a good accord with [referee] Scott [Foster]. It’s one of those games that’s chippy; it’s playoff basketball, words are going to be said. I don’t mean any harm to Scott. He’s a good referee sometimes. Just got to keep pushing and move forward.
“I should have ended it a better way, and conducted myself in a better way and just walked away. It’s just frustration.”
There was plenty to be frustrated about. But Game 2 is over. On to Game 3.