Well, after almost suffering a heart attack, I sit in despair having to write about the fifth Bulls loss this season. But, although this was a tough loss to swallow, there was some good that came out of it.
And while the last five minutes of this game were extremely exciting and entertaining to watch, the other 43 helped define the Bulls' season so far.
The Miami heat were the 10th team the Bulls played this year that are over 500. Against those 10 teams, they are now 6-4. This game, ultimately, was a chance for the Bulls to show off their talent against one of the top teams in the NBA.
And while the Bulls never led throughout the entirety of this game, they never went away. For a team that was missing a 15.9 points per game/7.5 rebounds per game guy in Luol Deng, and a top point guard backup in C.J Watson, that says a lot about who this Bulls team really is. What they were missing with Deng was the reliability on the offensive side, and the shutdown-ability on the defensive side.
The 6'9'', 220-pound Deng would usually be the one guarding the 6'8'' LeBron James, but instead, it was the 6'7'' Ronnie Brewer. With Deng, the Bulls would have been able to put Brewer on someone like Dwyane Wade, who is a better suited matchup for the undersized Brewer. And the fact that LeBron was shooting five for six with 10 points before the first quarter was even over speaks to how much Deng was needed this afternoon.
So, no Deng for the Bulls.
Throughout the game, the damage wasn't as severe as one would think. The biggest Heat lead was 12 points, which came with 6:14 left in the first half. So the fact that the Bulls were able to keep the Heat on a leash points-wise and only lose by four points shows how well they can still play without one of their best players, who if they had in the lineup, they probably would have won.
Going on to Rip Hamilton, who played a good game for someone who has been struggling with a groin injury. It wasn't what he did on the offensive side (11 points), but on the defensive side that looked promising.
Rip had the daunting task of matching up against Wade who, coming into the game, averaged 20.4 points. This afternoon, Wade only scored 15 points and was a dismal 25 percent from the field, going 4-16. And at times, he looked very frustrated by Hamilton's tight defense and couldn't establish a dominance in the game. Hamilton's defense is going to be needed when and if the Bulls meet the Heat in the playoffs.
While Rose did miss those last two free-throws at the end of the game, the other 45 minutes that he played showed that he could still be a dominant force for the Bulls, and someone who they can rely on down the stretch. Finishing with 34 points, Rose had some ridiculously acrobatic moves in the final minutes of this game to cut the lead down to one point. His athleticism alone can carry this Bulls team.
This Bulls game wasn't a success by any means. But, the fact that they weren't completely steam rolled by the Heat without Deng and Watson shows how good and how deep this team is. Even without those two, the Bulls and the Heat seem to be very evenly matched. And you know that Rose is going to have nightmares about those two missed free throws which, hopefully, should motivate him.
And a motivated Rose never disappoints.
So even after a rough loss like this one, the Bulls showed that they can play with Heat, even without some of their best players.
And that's promising in and of itself.
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