Lebron and Co have not felt defeat since February 1st. The Heat won 27 games in a row, and that is where it ended. The Bulls took down the Heat by a score of 101-97. There will no doubt be every single kind of reaction to this game. Some will say the Heat won't lose again until the Finals because they're pissed because they lost and others will say this is the start of the Heat demise. Today we are going to try to dissect the game from last night and try to take out what we can without the typical overreaction.
Last night the Bulls made the game exactly what their coach Tom Thibodeau wanted, a cage match. For those of you who aren't savvy on wrestling terms, a cage match is when two wrestlers in professional wrestling are in a feud and just a regular match won't due it. It is when there is a need for something more brutal, more painful, more sadistic. While the cage matches of wrestling may have more theatrics and blood, this version of a cage match was just as physical. The Bulls knew they did not have the same amount of talent as the Heat so they knew that they had to do something different. They couldn't out score the Heat and their defense is on the same level so they needed to frustrate the Heat. Sure, some of the things they did were going to get called, but they can't possibly call everything. Did the Bulls find the kryptonite for the Supermen?
The strategy is definitely a sound one. The Heat looked frazzled throughout that entire game. They seemed to look for calls more often than usual. Even James was in rare form after the game complaining to the media about the style of play that the Bulls displayed on Wednesday night. Anything to be the streak, right? Here is the problem, the way the Heat reacted to the game will make all teams change their strategy towards them. If they want this to stop they need to punch the team back and beat them, bad. The Pacers, the Celtics, even the Knicks will look at this strategy and try to use it to get Miami off its game. So the true question is, did Chicago find the true way to beat the Heat?
To be honest, maybe. It all depends on how they play after this. The feeling of a loss hurts more when you have won so many in a row. Look at what happened to the Spurs in last years playoffs. They won twenty games in a row, and most of them weren't close. They won fourteen of those twenty by double digits. The game before their streak ended, they scored 120 points and made the game look quite easy. They never won another game. Am I suggesting that the Heat won't win another game? Of course not, but it does take some time to get over that sinking feeling you get when you lose. The room was obviously tense afterwards as there seemed to be an anger in the room. What comes next for the Heat?
Here is the problem, Miami has nothing to play for now. This was clear motivation for them to put their all into every game. Now they will coast through some games and have some bad losses. The only problem is they won't hurt them record wise or seeding wise, it will only hurt them image wise. They do have something to play for in the playoffs. They legitimately want to be considered the best team ever. Better than Jordan's Bulls. Better than Russell's Celtics. Better than Magic's Lakers. He know no matter what you do in the regular season, the only thing people remember is what you did in the postseason. It doesn't matter if you win all 82 games, if you falter in the playoffs you aren't even worth mentioning. The big three understand that. They know they are still trying to live up to the expectations of their press conference in which Lebron promised not one not two not three, well you get the point.
Do we have a formula for beating the Heat? We may, but we know that the issue is now in the league's eye after their star complained. A "cage match" type of game may no longer be acceptable type of game. The formula to beat them may end up being thrown in the garbage. You can try to be physical with them and throw them off, but the referees are going to be looking extra careful from now on as to how teams treat the Heat.
In the end, it is probably a good thing that the Heat lost the way they did. It will wake them up from their happy go lucky streak and make them realize what the actual task at hand is. Nobody cares about regular season records. They want you to go out and win. Jordan is thought of as great because he won. So was Bird. Magic, Russell, Kobe, you go down the list and the best of all time all have multiple titles. It is just how it works. For now and forever the best in the world will be judged by how much they win, not by how much they score. The Heat are now here to win. Try and stop them.