Everyone knew the Miami Heat would respond after losing Game 1 to the Chicago Bulls, and they did so in convincing fashion, thrashing Chicago 115-78 and handing them their worst postseason loss in the process.
After going through the motions in the opener, the Heat beat the Bulls in every facet of the game, sending the series back to the Windy City tied at a game apiece.
While the Bulls were manhandled in this one-sided affair, there are some adjustments the team can make to pull off a win in Game 3.
Defend the paint
Unfortunately, that deficiency reared its ugly head again in Game 2, as Miami pounded Chicago inside to the tune of 56-18, which represents the largest paint differential in any playoff game in the last 17 seasons. (via ESPN)
Simply put, if Chicago is going to win any more games in this series, they will have to do a better job at closing down the driving lanes and not allowing a ton of easy layups and dunks.
Limit contributions of supporting cast
One of the keys to victory I mentioned prior to Game 2 was the fact that Chicago would need to limit the effectiveness of Miami’s role players.
This included 21 points from sharpshooter Ray Allen along with 18 points from Norris Cole. In addition to that, the role players shot a combined 54 percent from the field (27-of-50), following a 16-of-45 showing in Game 1.
The lesson here is James and Wade will find a way to score points at some point, but the Bulls cannot allow Miami’s supporting cast to be a factor or the end result will be similar to what we witnessed in this game.
Keeping cool under pressure
Normally, there is very little that bothers this Bulls team as they have played the entire season without their star player, Derrick Rose, while managing to win playoff games in the absence of both Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich.
In Game 2, emotions got the better of Tom Thibodeau’s squad as they were called for six technical fouls, and both Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah were ejected from the contest long after the outcome of the game had been decided.
Per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Thibodeau had this to say about his team losing its cool:
We got sidetracked and you can’t do that. So we allowed frustration to carry over to the next play. You come in here, you’re not going to get calls. That’s the way it is, that’s reality.
Being that these two teams do not like each other, the Bulls will need to maintain their composure when the calls don’t go their way because the intensity level will only increase as the series wears on.
The bad news is the Bulls laid an egg in Game 2 and allowed the Heat to do whatever they wanted offensively.
The good news is Chicago earned the split it needed and now head back home with the series tied at 1-1.
If the Bulls get back to playing the type of basketball that earned them a spot in the second round of these playoffs, they will regain control of the series with a win in Game 3.