By Brad Thompson–
CHICAGO (WSCR) Chicago had a dreadful shooting night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. It led to an 85-75 Heat victory on Wednesday night at the United Center. The Bulls managed to score just two points in the final 7:15 of the game.
The 75 points the Bulls put up marked the lowest output by Chicago in the playoffs this season. Their previous low was 84 in a loss at Indiana.
I know the Bulls hang their hat on defense and rebounding. I know that Tom Thibodeau is a defensive-minded coach and the Bulls have arguably the best defense in the league, but it’s awfully hard to win with only 75 points.
Chicago was horrific in every shooting category – 34 percent from the field (28-of-82), 15 percent from behind the arc (3-of-20) and 62 percent at the free throw line (16-of-26). The Bulls only scored 10 points in the fourth quarter. After a Taj Gibson dunk that tied the game with 7:16 remaining, the Bulls were outscored 12-2.
Chicago’s defense and rebounding wasn’t great in Game 2 either. Miami outrebounded Chicago 45-41, after being pummeled on the boards in Game 1. The Heat were able to penetrate the Bulls defense, which resulted in more dunks and lay-ups than in Game 1. Miami held a 50-34 advantage in points in the paint.
Even considering all that, it wasn’t the defense or the rebounding that ultimately cost Chicago. The game was tied 73-73 in the fourth, but the Bulls just couldn’t come up with any points. LeBron scored all nine of his fourth quarter points in the final 4:28, during Miami’s 12-2 closeout run.
While the Bulls weren’t exactly their usual selves on defense in Game 2, they still held Miami to 85 points, which is eight less than their playoff average. The problem was no one for Chicago could make a shot. I know the Bulls struggled to score points at times throughout the regular season, so this wasn’t shocking, but you don’t expect the entire team to shoot so poorly in a playoff game.
Give credit to Miami’s defense – they came up with the loose balls, rotated better and hit the glass harder than in Game 1. No question the Heat were better defensively, but throughout the game I kept saying to myself, “He usually makes that shot.”
Rose couldn’t finish around the rim like he normally does, going 7-for-23 from the field. Boozer was a nonfactor, shooting a pathetic 3-for-10. Korver bricked his way to 1-for-7, good for three points. And Deng scored 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting.
As good as their defense is, the Bulls can’t win games when they only score two points in the final seven minutes of the game. They need to chalk this one up to a bad shooting night and let it go. It leaves the Bulls feeling like they gave one away on Wednesday, but all they can do now is learn from this, make adjustments and move on to Game 3.
Do you agree with Brad? Post your comments below.
Brad M. Thompson, a former college football player and coach, made his return to the Midwest in 2009 after fighting wildfires out West. He earned his master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and covers the Big Ten Conference and Chicago sports. Follow him on Twitter at @Brad_M_Thompson. Find more of Brad’s blogs here.