Observations from the Miami Heat 96-84 victory against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday at the United Center:
The Miami Heat started this game versus the Chicago Bulls extremely sloppy, but managed to pick things up after a few possessions riddled with turnovers and a lock of rhythm. Dwyane Wade made up for the issues by scoring early, finishing multiple, crafty buckets. With that Miami was able to start scoring, however the amount of contested jumpers that were taken and missed is still alarming.
The Heat were great in transition in this quarter, which is something they've struggled with all year. There was some very good ball movement, and Chalmers also maintained great court vision. Hassan Whiteside came off the bench and blocked a shot from Taj Gibson right away, however he looked to be a tiny but slower -- noticeably letting Kirk Hinrich stroll by for an easy layup. That being said he blocked two shots following that moment to make up for that mishap.
The second quarter started solidly for the Heat, they maintained good shot selection and ball movement, and at times, where Wade would usually force a shot, he was electing to pass it in an effort to get everybody a lot more involved. It's worth noting how great his chemistry is with Hassan. Shawne Williams demonstrated a lot of hustle in his play time, and was successful getting open off the ball.
Miami's defense was also great as the forced Chicago to four and half minutes without a field goal. Miami made Chicago's reserve unit think -- with Aaron Brooks noticeably hesitating -- when electing to shoot the ball. It's almost as if Miami was able to get in their heads early, which is something they haven't done in an extremely long time.
I still find it interesting how Wade is probably Miami's best floor general, constantly barking commands and making things happen. Miami hit a plateau in the latter half of the second, allowing the Bulls to make some headway and come back within four despite maintaining a 10-point lead for the majority of the quarter.
Deng, who's struggled all year shooting free throws actually looked good from the charity stripe and was clearly fueled by a return to his former home. Chalmers, who's had a tough time finding his identity, looked like a true point guard at time as he constantly pushed tempo. The Heat also brought back their defensive intensity making Chicago shoot a horrid 34% from the field. They finished the half up by 10.
The third quarter was the exact opposite of what we come to expect from the Heat in the third, as the were fantastic the whole way through. Chris Bosh's play is quiet, but so good. I feel like that's why he was passed over by the All-Star fan vote, and it really bugs me.
Miami missed some easy buckets, also allowed easy buckets for Chicago in the paint. Birdman was injured on a hustle play, but managed to cherry pick a beautiful slam before coming out. Allowing Whiteside to come in and pick up where he left off. Wade shut down Jimmy Butler and allowed Miami to pretty much enter cruise control the entire quarter with Chicago just looking lost.
Chicago tried to make a push to start the fourth, but they felt some hiccups as Dwyane Wade scored two great buckets on the other end. Whiteside and Gibson were in a battle, with Hassan clearly frustrating Gibson. Wade was a monster hitting jump shots in the fourth, it just seemed as if every shot he took went in (besides a select few).
While Chicago seemed exhausted they still managed to make some impressive plays (Brooks four point play). Whiteside absolutely tore up the Chicago defense, there was just no answer for him anywhere. It's incredible to see the difference he makes on almost all plays. He cleans up the glass, makes up for bad passes and can generally do it all with a throw down slam. Perhaps he recognized that he was on national television today because he sure as hell played like he had something to prove.
It finally seems as if the Heat are stepping up, this was a completely different team then what we've seen in the losses and if Miami can find a way to maintain this throughout the next few months, they can definitely make a push to to the middle of the Eastern conference pack.
- Chris Bosh: Chris Bosh put up 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds, he looked great and absolutely deserves to be an All-Star.
- Dwyane Wade: Wade had a chip on his shoulder all game. He dominated Jimmy Butler, shutting him down for the whole game and put up a stat-line of 26 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. All-Star starter material? I still think so. That being said there is no way he's missing out on the game.
- Mario Chalmers: Chalmers was great today, he could see all and as a result put up a great statline of 15 points and 5 assists. Perhaps this can be the turning point for the struggling point guard.
- Hassan Whiteside: I can't say enough about Hassan Whiteside. He had 12 blocks. 12 blocks!! He also dominated on the glass and dunked on Chicago's whole team, and he did this while hurt. There is some serious potential here, and now the world knows.
- Luol Deng: Though quiet, Deng suceeded in his first revenge game in the United Center scoring 15 points, and grabbing 10 boards.
- Turnovers: Miami still struggles with turnovers they had 10 this game, and thus show improvement, but they were lucky Chicago didn't capitalize in transition.
- Chicago's shooting: The Bulls shot 35% from the field, that's disgusting. Also, did you see Kirk Hinrich's air balls? C'mon man.