Versatility. It was the key to why Miami was able to defeat Miami.
While the Bulls had offensive and defensive specialists they tried to go with — Taj Gibson or Carlos Boozer? — the Heat could leave their best guys on the floor. And mix and match.
Like have LeBron James guard Derrick Rose with the game on the line. And according to ESPN’s stats and information, it worked really well.
After going 0-for-5 from the floor with a turnover when guarded by LeBron James in Game 4, Derrick Rose struggled against him once again Thursday, going 1-for-10 with two turnovers in Game 5. Rose shot 6.3 percent from the floor in the series when defended by James, lowest among any player that defended him on five or more plays.
Meanwhile at the other end of the floor the Bulls played good defense even though the Heat scored on eight straight possessions late. Think about the shots — Dwyane Wade hitting a contested three (with the foul by Rose), LeBron with a three to tie and another jump shot later.
What was the book on Miami? Make them shoot jump shots, just don’t let LeBron and Wade get to the rim. In the final four minutes Miami had one made shot at the rim, everything else was outside. When they hit the jumpers, there is nothing a defense can do, no matter how good.
The difference was the Bulls needed to score, but Rose could not shake free of LeBron. And the Bulls do not have a second option of a guy who can create his own shot. In essence, what LeBron did to Ruse shut down the entire Bulls offense.
Rose was the MVP because of how he carried that offense all season. But at the biggest moments, the better player shut him down.