While the HEAT-Bulls rivalry never really reached its full potential during the Big 3 era due to injuries, there were still plenty of intense battles between the two adversaries.
Before Miami dispatched Chicago in the 2013 Eastern Conference Semifinals, the two met in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals with Derrick Rose at the peak of his powers. Remember, the Bulls went 3-0 against the HEAT in the regular season, and Rose earned MVP honors at just 22-years-old (he’s still the youngest player to win the award).
In Game 1 of the 2011 ECF, Rose and Chicago kept up its winning ways versus Miami with a 103-82 beatdown at United Center. But in the blink of an eye, the HEAT flipped the script and gave the Bulls a taste of their own medicine.
Thanks to the Big 3, Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller (the latter two in Games 2 and 4, respectively), Miami had a chance to eliminate Chicago in five games.
And on May 26, 2011, the HEAT did just that.
Now, we could get into what happened in the first three quarters of that Game 5, but none of that really matters. Here’s what does: Miami seemed to be dead in the water, down 77-65 with 3:14 left in the fourth. The Bulls had stifled the HEAT pretty much all evening, as it was a struggle to manufacture offense.
That was until LeBron James and Dwyane Wade absolutely took over down the stretch.
In addition to helping Miami get stops on the defensive end, the dynamic duo alternated bucket after bucket in an 18-3 run to close out the game and advance to their first NBA Finals together.
Although Chris Bosh wasn’t a huge part of the run initially, he hit two clutch free throws to force Rose to take that three at the end of regulation that resulted in James’ game-sealing block.
Because of how the series ended, it’s easy to forget about how instrumental Bosh was, as he averaged 23.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks on 60 percent shooting in the five games.
Long story short, there was no denying the Big 3 in the 2011 ECF.