The Bulls and Heat met three times in the regular season. Three times the Bulls won, a couple of close games and one pretty comfortably. Derrick Rose had big games, Chris Bosh struggled.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that matters much now.
For one, the most recent of those games was in March and the Heat are a very different team right now. The amazing Tom Haberstroh explains at ESPN.
When you look at the Heat’s most used lineups against the Bulls this season, something immediately jumps out at you: None of them will play in this series…
Who was the center in the Heat’s most frequent five? Erick Dampier, a guy who hasn’t seen the court in over a month.… The next most used lineup against the Bulls features Mike Miller, who has been all but squeezed out of the Heat’s rotation. If Miller plays in this series, it will be only in cameos due to his battered thumbs that render his hands barely functional. The third most used lineup? Carlos Arroyo was in it.
The playoffs are all about matchups. The Heat will lean heavily on Mario Chalmers — their best defensive point guard — and Joel Anthony this series. They will dare the Bulls to make them pay for going small. (If Erik Spoelstra leans heavily on Mike Bibby against Rose, well, that’s not going to really happen for long.)
It should also be noted that LeBron James didn’t play in the first game and Bosh got injured and missed part of that first game. In another, Bosh went 1-for-18. while the Bulls may make him struggle, don’t expect that level of futility again.
One thing Bulls fans do want to try and take away from the regular season — Rose gave the Heat trouble. He averaged 29 points on 43 percent shooting — not the most efficient numbers ever, but the Heat are a good defensive team. When Rose was on the court against the Heat this season, the Bulls played better on offense than most teams did against Miami in terms of points per possession (just slightly, about 2 points per 100 possessions, but that’s still something).
This Bulls vs. Heat series is going to be fantastic. But don’t expect it to look a lot like the regular season.