The Chicago Bulls crushed the Miami Heat, 103-82, on May 15 to take a 1-0 series lead in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.
Most viewers expected to see a slug-out between Bulls’ MVP guard Derrick Rose and the Heat’s star trio of forward LeBron James, guard Dwyane Wade and forward Chris Bosh, but it was Chicago’s role players who stole the show in Game 1.
Veteran forward Loul Deng led the Bulls in minutes played with 46, finishing the game with 21 points and seven rebounds. Rose still led Chicago with 28 points, but some of the Bulls’ biggest shots came from reserve players like forward Taj Gibson, who scored 9 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.
Forward Joakim Noah added 9 points with 14 rebounds, along with a swarming defense in the paint that helped limit Miami’s offensive production in the second half. Chicago outscored Miami, 24-15, in the third quarter, leaping out to a double-digit lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
“We just stayed consistent on defense,” said Deng, who passed up credit for holding LeBron James to just 15 points. “ nothing , he just missed some shots tonight. He’s a great player. There’s nothing I can do to stop him. He just missed some shots.”
Despite James’ struggles, Miami received positive production from Bosh, who finished with 30 points and 9 rebounds; Wade finished with 18 points on 7-of-17 shooting in the loss.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is scheduled on Wednesday, May 18 at 8:30 p.m.