It took only one game of the Eastern Conference finals for the Heat to learn the lesson the Nets had endured the previous two weeks: The Bulls simply won't go away. No matter who they have available. Or don't have available. Ultimately, the Heat's eight-game playoff winning streak came to an end Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, with a 93-86 loss in the opener of the best-of-seven series. "They imposed their identity in this first game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I don't think there's any doubt about it." No, there wasn't any, as the Bulls pushed back from a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit, on a night they again were without ailing Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose. "We've been hit all year with a lot of different things," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I like the mental toughness." With a 35-point fourth quarter and clutch shots from guard Nate Robinson and forward Jimmy Butler, the Bulls silenced the crowd and stole homecourt advantage, the Heat now needing to win at least one of the three games at the United Center. "They beat us with their effort," said Heat guard Dwyane Wade, "and that can't happen." Game 2 is Wednesday, before shifting to United Center for games 3 and 4. "At the end of the day," said Spoelstra, "we're up four, going into the fourth, in our building, and we give up a 35-point fourth quarter." After breezing past the Bucks, 4-0, in the first round, the Heat had a chance to make it nine consecutive playoff victories, when factoring in winning the last four games of last season's NBA Finals against the Thunder.
Resilient Bulls cool off the Heat
Detroit News | May 7