The absence of Chris Bosh made things very easy for the Chicago Bulls against the Miami Heat, winning 93-75 as both Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol had a chance to take it a bit easier than usual, while Mike Dunleavy took care of the scoring angle.
Dunleavy finished with 22 points on 8-of-11 from the field, including four 3-pointers, as the Bulls ran away with the game in the second and third quarters, allowing the Heat to score just 48 points through the first three periods. Jimmy Butler was very difficult to slow down on his way to the basket, scoring 17 points (9-of-10 from the line), Taj Gibson had an easy time under the basket with 15 points and 9 rebounds while Derrick Rose, playing just 27 minutes because there was no need for more, scored 14 points.
Improving to 15-8 and 11-3 on the road, the Bulls have now won three straight and four of their last five, now 2.5 games behind the Toronto Raptors. The Heat on the other hand, also constantly missing at least one key player from the puzzle, have fallen to 11-13. Without Bosh and having Justin Hamilton in the lineup instead of him, things looked very bad, broken and sad offensively, shooting just 35% from the field and 18.2% from beyond the arc.
Dwyane Wade scored 17 points and so did Luol Deng, but Wade also turned the ball over six times, struggling offensively against Butler without the Bulls defense having someone else to focus on. Mario Chalmers scored 11 points off the bench but he was only 4-of-12 from the field, while someone important like Josh McRoberts missed his third consecutive game. Bosh’s absence was a surprise to both teams, but doesn’t seem like too serious of an issue.
Nikola Mirotic scored just 5 points off the bench but he did grab 7 rebounds and continues to be the better rookie for the Bulls. Doug McDemott can’t even fight for that distinction at the moment, about to go through knee surgery which should keep him out for quite a while. The Bulls never have too many games with everyone available, also missing Joakim Noah, which at least gives an opportunity for Gibson to play in the lineup like he planned to before all the signings and additions the Bulls made in the offseason.
Not every game has to be a battle and struggle, even though the Bulls looked sluggish themselves during certain moments. Rose playing 27 minutes without having to make too much of an effort to pull his team unlike the win over the Blazers might be bad for the comeback and redemption storylines, but it keeps him off the court for meaningless minutes. The Bulls have enough offensive weapons to do well without him, especially against a sad case like a Bosh-less Miami Heat.
The Bulls are thinking about championships, and with this roster, there’s no reason to hide that fact. They have some way to go before being officially ready to make that kind of challenge. Most of it has to do with health issues that always keep standing in the way. The Miami Heat, for now, are past these days. Just making the playoffs will be nice, although the way they look on some nights makes you wonder if even that’s something this team can achieve.