With the Heat’s first home loss of the postseason, the complexion of this series undoubtedly became a whole lot more interesting. In a span of nearly three hours, a Bulls squad minus Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng managed to swipe home court advantage away from the defending champion Miami Heat.
But is it time for Miami to slam the panic button with a sweaty palm?
No, not quite.
While it may sound like the easy out, Miami did struggle for the entirety of Monday’s action to shed its rust from having eight days off.
The Heat’s usually perennial defensive rotations were spotty at best. And a fearless, depleted Bulls team wasted no time taking advantage.
Miami shouldn’t expect to win the battle on the boards, but Erik Spoelstra should demand for better than what his unit was able to produce tonight. The Bulls slapped the Heat in the rebounding category, pulling down 46 boards compared to Miami’s 32.
Chris Andersen, who is normally a spark plug for the Heat, grabbed just one rebound in over 16 minutes of action. The warrior-minded Udonis Haslem hauled in just three.
Typically dependable role players like Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen and Shane Battier struggled to find their shot. To illustrate that point, take into account the three aforementioned players combined to shoot 5-of-19 from the field.
Chris Bosh made just three of his 10 shots.
As a team, Miami shot an underwhelming 39.7 percent for the evening. To put it simply, that just won’t cut it in the playoffs.
Against any opponent.
And while Chicago certainly deserves a heap of credit for their no-quit attitude and nonstop physical play, it would also be naïve to assume the Heat will struggle to capitalize on wide-open looks for the remainder of the series.
It should also be taken into account, however, that Deng and Hinrich will likely be making the return to the court relatively soon for Chicago. Whenever that may be, the Heat will need a significantly greater effort if it wants any shot at taking the series.
Bosh and Wade need to play like the superstars Miami pays them to be. Allen and Battier need to hit those open looks. Andersen needs to provide energy off the bench and help lessen Miami’s pains on the boards. Chalmers must regain his confidence.
If none of those cards falls into place, then James needs to be more than great. He needs to be historic.
But in all likelihood, Miami will shrug off the rust and find its groove on Wednesday night.
After all, this is the same team that finished with a league-best 66 wins and strung off the second-greatest winning streak in the process, failing to lose in 27-straight games.
That’s why it’s not yet time to fret in Miami.
Now, if the Heat fail to put it together for a second consecutive night and the Bulls carry a 2-0 series lead back to Chicago, then it’s time for Miami to panic.
Until then, that panic button remains in the corner of Miami's eye.
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