After surprisingly dropping the first game of the series, the Miami Heat have made a statement early in Game 2 against Chicago by taking a 55-41 lead into the half.
Miami ended the second quarter on a 13-3 run, aided by back-to-back three pointers from Norris Cole. The theme of the first half was physicality.
LeBron James and Joakim Noah got into it during the first quarter, leading to a double technical foul that ignited things. After LeBron took a low hit on the other end, Chris Andersen responded with a blatant push of Marco Belinelli into the Bulls bench. He was assessed a flagrant 1 foul. Marquis Teague and Cole got into it on an inbounds play and needed to be separated, while Jimmy Butler laid a pretty hard foul on James as he drove to the rim.
Look for the physicality to continue in the second half, especially as Chicago aims to claw back on the scoreboard.
LeBron continued to be nearly unstoppable despite the rough play, leading Miami with 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting. James also dished out four assists, brought down two rebounds and came away with a pair of steals. Dwyane Wade was unable to get much going, recording just seven points. Ray Allen came off the bench to score nine points.
The Bulls struggled to find their rhythm offensively in the half, shooting just 39 percent from the field. Jimmy Butler led the way with nine points, while Noah had eight. Part of it was Miami really getting after it on the defensive end, while Chicago also missed some open shots they should've hit.
Prior to Wednesday night's showdown in Miami, Satchel Price asked a couple of key questions for Game 2.
1. Chris Bosh, where art thou?
Bosh has been mostly ineffective in the postseason thus far, averaging just 12 points and 7.6 rebounds a game. After a disappointing nine-point, six-rebound effort in Game 1, Bosh has responded with just four points and five boards in the first half.
The Bulls have one of the league's best defensive groups of post players, but the fact is the Heat need more out of Bosh if they're going to take tonight's game. LeBron can't do it all, and with Dwyane Wade ailing, guys like Bosh and Ray Allen are going to have to step up.
2. Can Chicago keep dominating the boards?
The Bulls completely owned the rebounding battle in the series opener, bringing down 46 rebounds compared to Miami's 32. The real difference was the play of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, who combined for 25 rebounds while controlling the paint.
So far, the Heat have done a much better job around the rim. They hold the rebounding edge, 17-14, and have held Chicago to just four offensive rebounds. If they can keep this up, the second half will be much easier than it was on Monday night.
3. What about Derrick Rose?
While the rumors of Rose's return to the floor continue to linger, the All-Star point guard remained on the bench throughout the first half and is not expected to play. After not missing Rose much in Game 1, Chicago could've benefited from having him active tonight.
Nate Robinson, who has done a nice job filling in this postseason, picked up two early fouls and has been limited ever since. He has just eight points and one assist, and his struggles have forced the Bulls to work for most of their shots on the offensive end. If they are going to make a comeback in the second half, Robinson will have to pick up his level of play.
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