As much fun as it would be to sit here on my soapbox, laugh & write 700 hundred words about how the Miami Heat quit in overtime of Thursday night’s 96-86 loss to the now 45-14 Bulls, I’m instead focusing on the Bulls now being able to rest some of their guys in the season’s final seven games. Homecourt advantage isn’t yet locked up over the “Heatles,” but it’s a mere formality. The Bulls are 2 up in the loss column on the Thunder for the league’s best record, but with games against the Pistons, Wizards, Bobcats & Cavs, it will take a complete meltdown for the Bulls to not earn at least the east’s #1 overall seed.
With the way the bench mob outclassed the Heat’s superstars Thursday, why not give Luol Deng, Rip Hamilton Joakim Noah & Derrick Rose some rest down the stretch before the playoffs? I know that thought probably makes the back to back coach of the year’s skin crawl, but it should be mandated before John Paxson starts grabbing people’s ties.
Rose was atrocious on Thursday (2 points on 1-13 shooting), but C.J. Watson became the most famous Watson since Randy by hitting clutch shots in the 4th quarter and overtime. Rose should start the next 4-5 games to get his rhythm and legs back, but his minutes can’t exceed 37 a game. Rose should only play until he gets his timing down, and touch back on his floaters. You can bet he’ll never again play as bad as he did Thursday.
If I’m in charge, I’m also giving Noah and Boozer a minutes reduction over the next seven games. It’s imperative to this team’s depth that these two are healthy for a long playoff run, and decreasing their minute load will only help if the Bulls and Heat play again.
The same goes for Luol Deng. Shit, he could sit until game 1 for all I care. He has showed tremendous heart playing with a wrist injury that would sideline most players. The wrist won’t be right until he gets the surgery, but giving him a few games off can help it calm down some.
I refuse to overreact to one regular season win, but damn that was fun, wasn’t it? While the Bulls are ego-less and determined to win at any cost, the Heat are changing starting lineups and showing flaws that weren’t conceivable before the all-star break.
What does it say about the Bulls fearlessness when the Heat’s “Big 3″ combine for 71 points on 49% shooting and still lose? After Wade collapsed to the floor at the end of regulation, they essentially quit. When Omer Asik blocked Dwyane Wade’s floater in OT, the swagtastic douche again fell to the ground like he was shot. Meanwhile, the Bulls were off and running on a fast break that led to a Taj Gibson (who outplayed Chris Bosh badly) throw down. That play epitomized the night, and this team’s heart. A message was sent, and the Heat offered minimal resistance in overtime in a game they desperately wanted.
One team checks their egos at the door and refuses to lose, while the other keeps telling everyone that they’ll flip a switch when it matters. That’s fine if you believe the Heat are simply coasting. I don’t. They have now lost 8 of their past 9 road games to teams with winning records, so there’s no doubt they were trying to prove a point Thursday. It didn’t matter. The Bulls 47-7 advantage in bench scoring ensured the Heat would continue to doubt themselves in road games.
Because of LeBron’s potential brilliance, it’s still tough to imagine the Bulls beating them 4 out of 7 come the conference finals, but it’s not as inconceivable as it was a few weeks ago. This Bulls team doesn’t fear the Heat, nor will they back down to the aura that Wade & James present. It will be an epic series if it happens, but now that the #1 seed in the east is all but a lock, let’s rest some of the players before the real season commences.