The 2011 NBA playoff schedule has included matchups that may signal a new future for the league. One of these battles is in the Eastern Conference finals, as the Bulls and Heat are setting themselves up to dominate the East for some time. These playoffs will determine who gets the initial upper hand in this potential rivalry. Going into Game 1, it looked like Miami had the advantage. But while everyone was focused on how the Heat dismantled the Celtics, the Bulls reminded everyone who really had the early edge.
Chicago has gone a different path than expected, with only two easy wins combined over Indiana and Atlanta. But for the first time in the playoffs, the Bulls had a blowout win in a game that didn’t clinch a series, as the Heat were left in the dust in the second half.
Miami had the lead for much of the first half, as Chris Bosh actually led the way for once, instead of LeBron James or Dwayne Wade. Yet the Bulls know all about beating the Heat, having done it in three straight regular season games.
While Chicago was the best team in the NBA this season, it had more to prove in this opener. But the Bulls did that and then some in the second half, breaking away with a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter and breezing from there to a 103-82 victory, according to the Associated Press.
Bosh’s 30 points didn’t make up for Wade’s mere 18 points, or James’ 15. For Chicago, Loul Deng may have been the MVP of the night instead of Derrick Rose; Deng got 21 points and helped handcuff James on defense. But Rose wasn’t too shabby himself, with 28 points of his own.
The Heat had been the most powerful playoff team thus far, having been anointed the favorites after the five-game win over the Celtics. However, Miami faced a Boston team that’s near the end of its dynasty, while Chicago is just starting to peak. But while everyone was won over by the Heat, the Bulls embraced a surprising underdog status; Rose framed it as “us against the world” Friday, according to ESPN.
However, after Sunday’s Game 1 blowout, Chicago can’t use the underdog role for a while. Meanwhile, Miami faces its first real adversity of the playoffs, as it had played from ahead in the first two rounds. This year’s postseason schedule broken just right for the Heat until now, yet if James and the Big Three are ready to dominate the NBA, they will show the ability to rally back.
The Heat has two days to recover and plan out such a rally, with Game 2 set for Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
NBA.com- “2011 Playoffs Schedule”
Yahoo Sports- “Bulls take Game 1 from Heat with 103-82 rout”
ESPN- “Derrick Rose fine with underdog role”