Miami’s bench doesn’t have any depth—so we’ve been told. Size up the talent between the Heat’s bench and the Bulls, and no doubt, the Bulls side is loaded with guys like Taj Gibson, CJ Watson, Kyle Korver and Omer Asik. But who won that series?
Definitely not the Bulls’ “Bench Mob.”
The rule of thumb when playing the Heat seemed to be "shut down James and/or Wayde and you can shut down the Heat.” Chris Bosh was labeled the third wheel throughout the regular season. The rest of the bench seemed to be a bunch of leftover free agents, willing to take any amount of cash for a ring before they said their goodbyes.
Luol Deng and Ronnie Brewer, two excellent defenders, had James struggling from the outside, making only nine field goals in the first four games. Wade couldn’t find an early rhythm throughout the series, shooting as low as 25 percent. Game over, right?
The Bulls' Carlos Boozer made the mistake of letting Bosh get hot in Game 3. Even when Gibson, who is 200 times a better defender than Boozer, was on Bosh, Bosh kept raining shots that night. Though it seemed too late in the season for Bosh to transform into his old self, Game 3 seemed to be the difference maker for him. He went on to average around 20 later in the series.
With more basketball left, and the ultimate prize at stake, Bosh shouldn’t be ignored in the finals and neither should Miami’s bench.
Even if the Bulls contained James, he still managed to get his teammates involved. Excluding Game 1, James lowest scoring performance was in Game 3, with 22 points, but he had 10 assists.
Mike Miller is a streaky shooter and can rebound well. When Udonis Haslem wasn’t having an explosive offensive game, he was rebounding. These two, and Bosh, were game-changers in the Bulls-Heat series.
Even when Wade and James were off in the first three quarters, it took just one Heat guy to step up and get a fire going. Then Wade and James would come in to clean things up.