(Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon)
The Miami HEAT beat the Chicago Bulls 107-95 Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Prior to tip off the HEAT raised their Championship Banner and the players received their Championship Rings. With the win, the HEAT improve to 1-0 on the season.
Impact Performance of the Night: In a space usually reserved for an individual, tonight we focus on the bench. Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Norris Cole and Chris Andersen combined for 42 points, outscoring the Bulls bench 42-26. The group provided a big spark for the HEAT, who found themselves down early. Battier and Allen combined to shoot 7-of-10 from three, which proved pivotal in the second quarter. Cole and Andersen took care of the glass, grabbing 15 rebounds. The HEAT were a well-balanced machine tonight and the bench was a huge reason why.
The Deciding Run: Both teams got off to a slow start in the first quarter, but the HEAT exploded in the second, pulling away from the Bulls. Miami won the quarter 37-18, giving them a 21 point lead at the half. Battier and Cole kicked things off with back-to-back threes, and the HEAT never looked back. The defense was swarming in the period, forcing the Bulls to shoot 30-percent from the field. Chicago also turned the ball over six times, which led to five HEAT points. The HEAT appeared to be in midseason form just one quarter into the season.
Play of the Game: The first play of the game spoke to what the HEAT want to do. Mario Chalmers pressured Derrick Rose and forced a turnover near halfcourt. Chalmers gained possession and found a streaking Udonis Haslem who finished with a dunk. Defense turned into offense and a skirmish led to a HEAT basket. It was a perfect way to set the tone for the game.
Efficiency Rating: Offensive Efficiency: 107.3; Defensive Efficiency: 93.9
Trend to Watch: Chicago has done a great job of keeping the HEAT out of the corners over the past few seasons. When the HEAT can get open looks for shooters in the corners they’re tough to stop. In the first half, Miami moved the ball from side to side and attempted six corner threes, making four. They made two more in the second half, finishing with six makes, their most against a Tom Thibodeau led Bulls team. Last season the HEAT made more corner threes than any team in NBA history and tonight was a good step in that direction.
The Takeaway: It’s hard to take anything from the first game of the season. Teams are rusty and working out the kinks. However, the HEAT’s performance was encouraging in the sense that they were able to get over a sloppy start and put up an extremely efficient performance on both ends. The basic tenets of the HEAT were on display. They forced turnovers, made a bunch of threes and got clean looks at the rim. Over the course of the season things will probably be a touch cleaner - 20 turnovers are too many - but against a good defense on opening night the HEAT performed about as well as one could expect.
Notes: LeBron James led the HEAT with 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Chris Bosh added 16 points and six rebounds. Dwyane Wade finished with 13 points, four rebounds and three assists. Greg Oden and Roger Mason Jr. were inactive.