Heat’s win in Game 2 not that impressive
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org May 19, 2011 11:14PM
Derrick Rose of the Bulls is helped up by teammates in the first period against the Heat in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals at the United Center Wednesday, May 18, 2011, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
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The last time the Miami Heat held an opponent below 40 percent shooting, won the rebound battle and allowed fewer than five three-pointers, it beat the Memphis Grizzlies by 33 points. The Heat led by 18 at halftime, 29 in the third quarter and coasted. It was their largest margin of victory this season.
When Miami did that against the Bulls in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night, the Heat needed a 12-2 run to break a 73-73 tie in the last 4:30 to win by 10.
The Heat wrested home-court advantage from the Bulls with its 85-75 victory in Game 2. But Miami looked a lot more beatable than the Bulls did in Game 1. The Bulls missed a chance to take control of the series with another convincing victory. But the Heat didn’t exactly turn the series around with its road win.
The Bulls missed 14 of their first 16 shots. They shot 34 percent (28-for-82) from the field and 3-for-20 from three-point range (2-for-19 on threes excluding the Luol Deng desperation shot at the end of the first quarter). They missed 10 of 26 free throws and were outrebounded 45-41. Derrick Rose shot 7-for-23 from the field. And Kyle Korver and Keith Bogans — among those usually responsible for picking up the slack when Rose is off his game — combined to make 2 of 9 three-pointers. And the Bulls still only trailed 78-75 with 2:29 to go.
The Heat showed some championship mettle by responding to a Game 1 disaster. But it had to work awfully hard to win a close game in the last five minutes. In the four previous games the Heat has held an opponent below 40 percent shooting and allowed fewer than five three-pointers, it won by 23, 14, 27 and 33.
All we know so far is that neither team has solved the other. The Bulls (26-15) and Heat (28-13) are two of the best road teams in the NBA, so home-court advantage isn’t as big of a factor as it might be in a conference finals.
Game 2 showed off the Heat’s biggest advantage in the series — if the Bulls give Dwyane Wade and LeBron James a chance to make the difference, they can do it. But they also had to have a lot of things go their way to get into that situation Wednesday night. The good news: It’s going to be a long, fun series to watch.
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Is Rose wearing down — not physically but mentally? Rose made 44 of 49 free throws (90 percent) in the Bulls’ first three playoff games against the Indiana Pacers. Since then, he’s 53-for-69 (76.8 percent). Normally a great clutch free-throw shooter, Rose missed both ends of a two-shot foul with the Bulls trailing 73-69 with 9:09 to play in Game 2.
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After making 4 of 7 three-pointers against the Heat in Game 1, Deng was 1-for-7 in Game 2 — considering his one three-pointer was a halfcourt desperation shot, he was 0-for-6 on conventional threes.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Deng is due. Largely overlooked in the Atlanta Hawks series was the fact that Deng was 2-for-19 on three-pointers after hitting 9 of 22 against Indiana in the first round.
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The Bulls lost home-court advantage, but that’s hardly a death knell.
The Bulls had the fourth-best road record in the NBA in the regular season (26-15), including an 87-86 victory in Miami on March 6.
The Heat was 30-11 at home but 8-6 in its last 14 regular-season home games — losing to the Bulls, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Milwaukee Bucks.
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After Udonis Haslem played a key role in the Heat’s Game 2 victory, the question is, how will he hold up after playing 23 minutes?
Haslem missed most of the season after suffering a torn Lisfranc ligament in his left foot against the Grizzlies on Nov. 20.
He was ineffective in a three-minute stint in Game 4 against the Boston Celtics and played four minutes in Game 1 against the Bulls.
The three-day break between Games 2 and 3 will help.
But after that, the rest of the series will be played every other day.