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2011 Eastern Conference Finals: Bosh outduels Boozer as Heat take 2-1 series lead

Credit to Rose's acting skills if he can still seem genuinely surprised at another foul call against the Bulls.
Credit to Rose's acting skills if he can still seem genuinely surprised at another foul call against the Bulls.

Pace Eff eFG FT/FG OREB% TOr
Chicago 82.0 103.7 44.8% 20.8 32.5 13.4
117.1 53.0% 37.3 15.2 12.2


I worried before the series that there'd be a game where the Heat have an offensively dominant game, and here's to hoping this will be the only time it happens from here on out.

Sometimes, they just look to have too many weapons, too much versatility in their best players, an unmatched ability to draw FTs, and a supporting cast least won't kill them. The Heat played a very tight 8-man rotation, with only Mike Miller bringing nothing, and that's a lot smaller total of useless players than they're used to. Udonis Haslem didn't have the same impact as in game two but hit some huge jumpers in the 4th, and Joel Anthony had 5 blocks. Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers contributed 6 points each, which isn't great shakes, but those 12 points were only one less than Bogans/Korver/Brewer/Watson combined for on the evening.

And then back to the Heat's Big 3, a designation that even Carlos Boozer would have to agree with after seeing what Chris Bosh did to him, Noah, and (the trash-talking?) Taj Gibson. Bosh had his second great game of the series, finishing 13-18 from the floor, and it wasn't all jumpers, either. LeBron James seemingly sandbagged the game waiting for the 4th quarter, heading into that final period with only 8 attempts but doing nearly everything else. Honestly, it's just weird to see a player that talented so easily contained outside by a switching big-man. But whether it was out of a strange sense of complacency or a fear of being too aggressive, James's passing ability was certainly effective against an aggressive (to the point of over-helping, and biting on too many fakes) Bulls defense. Dwyane Wade actually had a relatively poor night, finishing more lying on the floor than at the rim, but Bosh's outburst more than compensated to make for a big night overall from Miami's stars.

And with that in mind, for once a Thibs post-game where he emphasized defense-only could seem apt. But the offense was poor as well, and it affects the other end as Thibs rolled the dice with more offensive (in a way) personnel.

Both teams looked really sloppy early (long layoff, in South Beach no less, likely didn't help) but the Bulls were able to get some 2nd quarter scoring from Carlos Boozer (26 points overall), and after two fortuitous Luol Deng 3-pointers in the third quarter still were only down 3 heading into the fourth. But riding with Boozer and inserting Kyle Korver in to close out the game once again proved to hurt the defense more than it helped the point total. Korver only hit one three-pointer and that was off a broken play on a handoff from Boozer, and it seemed that while Booz had his best offensive game in a while (though he seemingly still left many points on the floor, maddeningly missing inside gimmes and and-one chances), he was giving nearly everything back on the other end.

It's an ongoing issue, because while the Bulls certainly have better defensive lineups (though Omer Asik was forced out of the game with a leg strain), Rose hasn't been great enough to not require more offensive help around him. Another unspectacular game for Rose, able to convert a few fantastic inside attempts, but in this game unable to really buoy his point total from the line (only 3-3). As it has been in a relatively difficult series for Rose, the Heat were both aggressively doubling him off pick/rolls, and were able to alter his attempts at the rim. And while the Bulls had another game where they were able to dominate the glass, those extra attempts weren't manifesting into more offense: neither through leading to tip-ins (Noah didn't have a single field goal), 3 pointers, or helping the team get into the penalty faster (Boozer the only one passing Rose's 3 FTs). It mostly led to more bricks.

So with Rose needing the help and Boozer playing well, Booz was in after 4 minutes into the final quarter after sitting then in the previous two games. His offense wasn't doing enough to make up for the negative effects on the defense, and the Bulls once again saw a late close game starting to slip away from them, with LeBron having awaken from his self-induced slumber to add scoring to his 'talents', and Derrick Rose not being able to keep up.

And then Korver was put in midway through the period, Thibs showing the hope that a shooter as good as Korver will find his shot eventually (and at this point, it could just be the Heat are athletic enough to more easily stay with him). The stint was a disastrous -9 in 1:30,  before Korver was pulled with the Bulls down 13 points. It has to be a bit crushing to Korver to realize that his shooting would've been the only realistic way for the Bulls to make up such a deficit, but Thibs still went with Ronnie Brewer instead for the rest of the game.

But if Korver isn't making shots his value is limited, and it shows the similar factor with a lot of this roster. As Steve Kerr remarked during the game, Thibodeau has choices whether to go more offense or more defense, but there's a drawback to each. The Heat don't have that roster flexibility, but that also have two-way stars (Bosh is no great defender but is more capable than, say, Boozer) able to play a lot of minutes, and a supporting group that had a nice outing at home.

In game three it was all too much, and it may have showed on the Bulls a bit as between Taj trash-talking Bosh, Bogans getting into it with Wade, and Noah's fine-able spat with a fan, they seemed to struggle with their composure in the game. But it's still a long series to go, so let's hope that the Bulls will be more ready for the hostile environment, and that this was the Heat's best shot.