A broken nose is keeping LeBron James off the courts for a week, which only means it’s an opportunity for Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to show that there’s more to the Miami Heat than just its MVP, and it seemed like the All-Star duo had no problem taking care of business in a 93-79 win over the Chicago Bulls.
James is out for about a week after Ibaka accidentally hit him in the face while the Heat were dominating the Thunder on Thursday night. This gave the Miami Heat a chance to start with an actual center in Greg Oden, and giving a lot more minutes to Ray Allen and Chris Andersen. Wade and Bosh were at the epicenter of everything; Bosh scored 28 points with 10 rebounds, Wade added 23 with 10 rebounds and 7 assists, while Mario Chalmers felt like a real point guard for once and had 12 points with 9 assists.
Chicago? No Jimmy Butler meant struggling to defend on the perimeter, and Tony Snell in the lineup at this stage of his career isn’t a great idea. Joakim Noah had another big night with 20 points and 15 rebounds, but the Bulls fell apart when he was off the floor with an ugly shooting night from pretty much everyone else, finishing with 35.8% from the field and 28.6% from beyond the arc.
We were missing a pretty big man. There’s nothing we can do to replace the best player in the world, but we just had to go out there and play team basketball on both ends of the floor. But when guys are out, I’m always curious to see how you respond as a team. We’ve have several of these games that could have been excuse games, but guys have stepped up. We’re starting to put it together defensively. We got off to a slow start early in the season, but I think right now we’re starting to get it, starting to click.
More than it was Wade and Bosh’s great offensive night, the Heat playing some excellent defense for a second consecutive game meant a lot as they hit 40-14 this season, only 1.5 games behind the Indiana Pacers. They didn’t make mistakes on offense (only 7 turnovers) and Dwyane Wade not having Jimmy Butler slowing him down allowed him to play a lot closer to the rim and grab 7 offensive rebounds, not struggling on the glass like they usually do against the Bulls.
The thing that worked best for them was the Mario Chalmers pick-and-roll, scoring 23 points off of those plays. Chalmers ran the pick-and-roll 11 times in the second half (four in the first half), producing 16 points on 6 of 9 shooting. Even though they shot a season low 48.7% from the paint, always something to expect against the Bulls, it meant a lot of open space for Chris Bosh to shoot from, going 4-of-9 from beyond the arc.
We weren’t playing with a good enough thrust. We were slow getting into our stuff. We didn’t make quick decisions, and we got stuck fighting the clock. You’ve got to hate playing those guys, and every time we play them our intensity has to be high. We did it in spurts, it wasn’t good the whole time, and that’s what’s disappointing. It doesn’t matter if LeBron’s out. They’re a good team. That team has other players. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade — those are All-Stars, too. The bench is deep. That’s a championship team.
Greg Oden started a game for the first time since 2009 (playing 11 minutes), as the Heat improved to 7-1 over the last two seasons without LeBron James playing. Despite seemingly more reliant on him than ever this season, one week is probably something they can manage to do without him.