The Miami Heat shot the ball just as well as the Chicago Bulls.
It didn’t feel that way at all, but the Bulls shot 43.7 percent in Game 1 and the Heat shot 47.1 percent. Use effective field goal percentage to account for all the Bulls made threes and it is a nearly identical 49.4 percent for the Bulls and 49.3 percent for the Heat.
But the Bulls took 19 more shots and five more free throw attempts in their 105-90 win— and that was all about the glass. Chicago got 19 offensive rebounds, so on 41.3 percent of their missed shots they got a second chance. The Bulls also had fewer turnovers.
For all the things the Heat need to do differently — and there are a number of things, from working better off the ball on the weak side on offense to defending the pick-and-roll better — rebounding has to be the key. The Bulls have a longer front line but rebounding is as more about effort than height at the NBA level, and the Bulls just wanted it more.
That said, height was an issue in this sense — the Heat have had their best success these playoffs with a small ball lineup. Meaning 6’9″ Joel Anthony at center. The 76ers couldn’t expose the Heat for that, and the Celtics by design don’t try to grab offensive rebounds. But the Bulls do and just destroyed the Heat so severely it made Erik Spoelstra go to Jamal Magloire for 10 minutes to see if that would help. If the Heat have to go away from the Anthony lineup, they could suffer in other ways.
This was not about Rose breaking down the Heat defense — according to Tom Haberstroh of ESPN only one of those rebounds came on Rose penetration. They came off a lot of missed jump shots and some things like Joakim Noah or Carlos Boozer getting inside and drawing defenders, leaving the other big room to operate.
The Bulls were relentless on the glass. In Game 2, they will be relentless on the glass.
One of the legends of Pat Riley’s coaching tenure with the Showtime Lakers was when he wrote on the chalkboard (they still used chalkboards back then):
No rebounds = no rings.
He needs to go down and write that on the white board in the Heat locker room now.
Noah started a lot of his runs to rebounds from the free throw line up or higher. Was able to slide through and get his spots. The Heat have to be aware, have to put a body on him early. When Noah has the ball inside don’t lose track of Boozer.
They better do all of it with real energy and commitment. Or no rings.