Posted May 16 2011 11:32AM
When you win a game by 21 points, chances are that you played well on both ends of the floor. And that was clearly the case for the Chicago Bulls in their 103-82 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The Bulls' offense scored 103 points on 82 possessions, peaking with a ridiculous 11-possession stretch early in the fourth quarter in which they scored 25 points. And their defense allowed just 82 points on 83 possessions, shutting the Heat down to the tune of five points over a 14-possession stretch spanning the third (last 12 possessions) and fourth (first two).
With the help of NBA.com StatsCube, here are some notes on how the Bulls' pulled off one of their most complete games of the season...
The Bulls won with their work on the glass
The biggest adjustment for the Heat in advancing to the conference finals wasn't the step up from defending Rajon Rondo to defending Derrick Rose. It was going from a team that doesn't care about offensive rebounds to a team that flourishes on the glass.
The Celtics ranked 30th in offensive rebounding percentage this season, while the Bulls ranked fourth, grabbing 29.4 percent of available offensive rebounds. Chicago has been even better in the postseason, grabbing 33.1 percent of available offensive boards through the first two rounds.
The glass was clearly the difference in Game 1, with the Bulls converting 19 offensive boards into 31 second-chance points. Not only is that a lot of offensive rebounds (tied for the Bulls' fifth highest total this season and tied for the most the Heat have allowed), but it's also a remarkably efficient conversion rate.
In the regular season, the Bulls recorded 1.28 second-chance points for every offensive rebound they grabbed, which was better than the league average (1.20). But in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Bulls had turned 144 offensive boards into just 147 second-chance points, a ratio of only 1.02.
The Bulls have actually topped Sunday's ratio of 1.63 (31/19) 13 times this season, including their Jan. 15 win over the Heat, when they converted 10 offensive boards into 25 second-chance points.
The Heat couldn't run
There can be a disadvantage to attacking the offensive glass. The reason the Celtics ranked last in the league in offensive rebounding percentage is that Doc Rivers would much rather his team get back on defense than try for a second-chance score. And while the Bulls were the best defensive team this season, they were in the middle of the pack when it came to transition defense (allowing fast break points).
In the Bulls' Feb. 24 win, the Heat recorded 34 fast-break points, which was both the most they've recorded all season and the most the Bulls have allowed. But in Game 1, Miami recorded just 10 fast break points, with four of those coming on their first two possessions.
The Heat are 15-13 when they record 10 or fewer fast break points and 51-14 when they record 11 or more.
Taking care of the ball
Only two of the Heat's 10 fast break points came in the second half. And those were on a quick Dwyane Wade runner after a made Bulls basket late in the third quarter.
The biggest reason the Heat couldn't run after halftime is that the Bulls took care of the ball. In fact, after the Bulls turned the ball over nine times in their first 41 possessions, they went 30 straight possessions -- from the 1:36 mark of the second quarter to the 6:24 mark of the fourth -- without a single turnover, and finished with just one in their final 41 possessions of the game.
Chicago's 10 turnovers in Game 1 was its fourth-lowest total of the season, and it is now 29-5 when committing 12 miscues or less in a game.
Protecting the paint
Before the series, we wrote about the Bulls' task of keeping LeBron James and Wade away from the basket and off the free throw line, setting a target of keeping their total points on free throws and baskets within five feet of the basket under 30.
In Game 1, James and Wade combined for just 10 points within five feet of the basket and just eight points at the line. Their 18 combined points from those spots was their fifth-lowest of the season in the 85 games they've played together.
Complicating things for the Heat was that James and Wade combined to shoot just 7-for-23 (30 percent) from beyond five feet. They shot 43 percent from beyond five feet in three regular season games against the Bulls and 40 percent from beyond five feet in the conference semifinals against Boston.
Protecting the paint, Part II
Conversely, the Heat did a great job of keeping Rose away from the rim. Rose was just 1-for-2 on shots within five feet of the basket. It was just the fifth time this season that Rose has had fewer than three attempts within five feet, and interestingly, the Bulls are 4-1 in those games.
Rose shot 9-for-20 from beyond five feet in Game 1, better than his season average of 37 percent. The 20 attempts are tied for the fifth most he's attempted from beyond five feet this season. His season-high is 22 attempts.
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