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Heat come up big 106-98, end Bulls playoff chances

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Despite a slow first half, the Miami Heat would pick up the pace in the second half and end the Bulls' playoff chances.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bulls came out hungry with Pau Gasol scoring immediately. The Miami Heat seemed to struggle initially in finding their rhythm with multiple defensive lapses, some questionable shots on offense and multiple turnovers. The Heat would find their rhythm eventually due to multiple Joe Johnson buckets, but still appeared stagnant on defense.

In an effort to speed things up and get the Heat into the game, Goran Dragic would try to push the pace, but to no avail as he seemed to be the only one down the floor. Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, and Hassan Whiteside entered the game midway through the first to try and amp up the defense. Immediately it seemed as if the Heat’s floor spacing improved, and they quickly patched their defensive woes causing a 24 second violation.

Dragic would reenter the game and catch fire scoring two consecutive buckets, and pushing the ball in transition and ending the first quarter with a beautiful layup. Dragic would continue his dominance into the second quarter getting to the line, and scoring in the midrange. Turnovers however seemed to be limiting the Heat.

Miami’s offense as a whole was without an identity with little to no offensive movement, but rather one on one play. Wade started to get things going as the 2nd quarter waned down, but was largely inconsistent. The main issue for Miami’s scoring seemed to be the shot selection, as they shot just 39% from the field.

Miami’s main problem in the first half was defense. The Bulls seemed to be able find every weak point, or drive before Miami had a chance to setup. The Heat also attempted pressing at certain points, but it generally resulted in disaster as Derrick Rose displayed solid acceleration.

The Heat entered the second half a lot stronger with Wade scoring off the bat, and Dragic getting a steal and converting on a layup. Finally they seemed to find the motion offense that they’d been succeeding at as of late. Additionally, Miami picked it up on defense with some great steals, but there were still instances where the Bulls managed to sneak through.

Amar’e Stoudemire had a presence in this game, delivering some great dunks, a beautiful and one and actually contributing on the defensive end. The Heat’s great third quarter run allowed them to take the lead, and change the game’s momentum. They would attempt to build on the lead throughout the third with stellar play from Joe Johnson and DWade.

The Bulls would push back as the third quarter approached its final minutes tying the game, before a medley of awkward plays that resulted in Hassan Whiteside falling down and seeming to hurt his elbow, and Doug McDermott being called for a flagrant foul.

The Heat would end the quarter up 75-69, a testament to their elevated field goal percentage.

Miami entered the fourth quarter with the same pace resulting in a Dragic bucket and a steal on defense by Winslow. The energy that they lacked in the first half was present as Deng took charges on defense and Josh Richardson seemed to sprout wings and soar for a dunk.

The game began to get chippy as the quarter progressed with Dragic turning the ball over multiple times, and the Bulls coming back to life on offense. With Chicago ahead, Miami looked cold and without momentum.

Luckily, Wade and Stoudemire would spark a comeback and lead to a completely new rotation for the Heat. As the quarter came to an end Whiteside, Wade and Deng would deliver on some amazing plays to help Miami take the lead and then some.

As the game came to a close, Wade would dish the ball to Joe Johnson for the dagger three, thus driving a knife into the Bulls’ playoff chances.