The Miami Heat needed some time to get into championship shooting form on their opening night of the 2013-2014 NBA season, but even without an outstanding performance from either LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, they had enough outside shooting and ball movement, courtesy of Ray Allen and Shane Battier, to make it out of the opening game with plenty of reasons to smile about.
After scoring only 17 points in the first quarter, the Heat exploded in the rest of the game, making the most of the huge quality differences between their bench and what the Chicago Bulls had to offer. The Heat finished with a 107-95 win although the margin was higher during most of the game, as the Bulls never got closer than 8 from the moment the Heat’s three-point barrage began in the second quarter.
James did lead the scoring for Miami with 17 points, adding 6 rebounds and 8 assists, but even with the big three combining for only 46 points on only 45.7% from the field, the Heat’s main strength is their ball movement and ability to spread the floor with four shooters at least in each lineup. The Big three were outscored by 4 points during their 25 minutes together on the floor, but when at least one of them was on the bench, the Heat outscored the Bulls by 16.
They finished with 55% from beyond the arc (11-of-20), as Shane Battier hit 4-of-4 and adding some great defense during his minutes on the court. Ray Allen scored 11 points, adding 7 assists as he kept hitting corner shots, which leads to the question of how can this man, the NBA’s all-time leader in three point field goals, is left to make open corner threes, which are almost like free throws for him.
The Heat were 6-of-8 on corner three pointers, all coming from assists. The Heat assisted on 70% of their field goals, their highest ratio in the big three era against the Bulls.
A surprising contribution came from Norris Cole; still in his backup point guard role, Cole was slightly forgotten in the NBA finals, but is a promising player who might one day take over for Mario Chalmers in the starting lineup. The Heat were at their best when he was on the floor, as the pressure on the ball and his decision making on offense generated a +17 margin in their favor during his 21 minutes, finishing with 11 points and 7 rebounds.
It was surprising to see the Heat very hesitant in the first quarter to do anything that required any sort of thought. They didn’t move the ball quickly enough which allowed the Bulls’ aggressive offense to keep them away from the paint. The Heat didn’t shoot once from inside the paint during the first 12 minutes, but bringing on Chris Andersen and Norris Cole gave a slight change to their energy levels, something the Bulls couldn’t keep up with.
You never know what to expect when you’re trying to keep the main thing the main thing, and that’s the game. But you can’t deny the emotions and what a special moment it was for everybody in the organization because we know how difficult that was and how harrowing that was last season. So it was great to actually get the win after that to cap off a very good night for the Miami Heat.