They lost to the Bulls the last time they played with Derrick Rose in street clothes and John Lucas lll starring, and this time succumbed with Rose going 1-13 and scoring a career-low two points.
Before LeBron James missed a free throw and C.J. Watson drained the tying three, my thoughts were that Miami winning had nothing to do with what will happen in the playoffs if the Heat and Bulls meet.
The sudden game-change didn't alter my thoughts on the subject, unless Miami is mentally fragile enough to let these losses sink into their psyche and affect the outcome when it really matters.
The Bulls won Thursday because of their bench, and no one questions them having one of the best in the league. It's certainly better than Miami's, which was outscored 47-7, but the Bulls' advantage won't play as great a role in the playoffs as it does during the regular season.
That should be music to the ears of Heat fans.
Kyle Korver scored 17 points in 18 minutes, including 5-6 from the three-point line, and Watson hit the big shot to send it to overtime filling the Rose role. He scored 16 points and added nine assists as Rose watched from the bench on the final play of regulation.
The playoffs is when the stars come out to play, and the Heat have the stars, at least on paper. LeBron has had a great year and is the likely MVP, but he still plays second fiddle to Dwyane Wade when the game is on the line.
Whether it's because he still thinks it's Wade's team or he's afraid to take the final shot doesn't matter. When the going gets tough, LeBron often gets going (as in nowhere to be found).
Wade is like a Timex. He takes a beating and keeps on ticking, but the wear and tear has taken a toll on him. He's still a star, but he doesn't shine as bright as in the past.
Bosh is the mystery man. You don't know what to expect from him. People are already calling for him to be traded if the Heat don't win it this year.
In the playoffs against the Bulls last year, he stepped up and you could say he was the star of the series for Miami. He's going to need to outplay his counterpart, Carlos Boozer, again this year if the Heat are to come out on top.
Miami was supposed to be deeper this year, adding Shane Battier and Norris Cole, along with Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller back for another go at it. Battier has added defense and not much else. Cole started out well, but has disappeared since, and Miller can't seem to overcome that injury bug. Haslem has just been a disappointment.
The excuse last season was it took time for them to understand how to blend their games with each other. What's the excuse this year? They still look the same. At times they look like world-beaters, and other times like the Charlotte Bobcats (I exaggerate), especially against good teams.
Are they head cases? Is their coach in over his head? Do they even listen to him?
People were asking the same questions last year. Then Miami turned it on in the playoffs, at least until they ran into Dallas. They beat the teams they had trouble with during the season when it counted.
Last year the Bulls swept them in the season series, but you know what happened in the playoffs.
Have the Bulls learned the secret to beating Miami? Do they have the pieces in place?
What's happened during the season has nothing to do with what will happen in the playoffs. People can use stats or whatever they want to determine who's going to win the series, but it will be decided on the court. Don't let anyone tell you anything different.
The Heat are a team that can turn it on when they are motivated to do so. It might say something about them that they don't play like that all the time, but the Bulls have to play with intensity every night to succeed.
If everything aligns, we'll find out which team will come out on top, but I'll give you a sneak peek into my crystal ball. I see the Heat in six, and just so you know, I'm a Bulls fan.
So quit your sniveling, Miami fans. I hope I'm wrong, but I believe otherwise.
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