Must be a rough morning to be a Chicago Bulls fan. Chicago had two opportunities to even the Eastern Conference Finals with the Heat last night in the final minute, but Derrick Rose’s first step-back jumper over LeBron James went in and out; his second was an airball. I was hoping Rose would have driven to the hoop on the second attempt, but I wonder if LeBron’s block of the MVP in the second quarter was in the back of Rose’s mind. The Heat prevailed in overtime, 101-93. The series is basically over.
As an NBA fan rooting for the Bulls, I was disappointed. But as an basketball fan, I was even more upset. It’s difficult to get excited for a game five when a team is down 3-1. If the Mavericks and Heat win tonight and Thursday (respectively), then the NBA Finals will start Tuesday. No NBA for four days? Bummer.
In game two, Udonis Haslem was the hero, keeping the Heat alive until LeBron finished Chicago. In game three Chris Bosh was a scoring machine. Last night? With Dwyane Wade struggling again (5-for-16, 14 points; six of those points came in overtime), much-maligned Mike Miller stepped up and chipped in 12 points and nine rebounds off the bench. I rarely put much stock in +/- stats for one game, but Miller was an astounding +36. The Heat bench, a major weakness headed into the series, outscored the (underused) Bulls’ reserves 23-18 and outrebounded them 18-5.
I like the optimism in Chicago: “The Bulls need a miracle.” Beating LeBron three straight games? I’m going to guess the last time that happened was when he was 22 and the Spurs swept them in the Finals. Derrick Rose … hey, everyone’s going to hammer him, so no need for me to pile on. He was electrifying at times, but came up small when it counted. Seven turnovers vs. six assists won’t cut it. A costly turnover in OT. Those two misses at the end of regulation. Tough.