Slugfests the key against the Heat?

Bulls' physical play echoes Pacers' formula in previous Miami defeats

Updated: March 28, 2013, 9:55 AM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | ESPN Insider
LeBron JamesNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesPhysical play seems to be the only thing that deters -- and can beat -- the Miami Heat.

CHICAGO -- There is no surefire formula for beating the Miami Heat. There is no magic game plan, no mad scientist lineup, no gimmicky defense that will allow a team to beat Miami consistently. That much was evident throughout the Heat's incredible 27-game winning streak. It was even evident during the game that broke the streak, the 101-97 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday at a raucous and jam-packed United Center.

A lot had to happen for the Bulls to become the team to finally beat the Heat: The Bulls got off to a great start, jumping out to a 13-2 lead by exploiting Miami's hyper-aggressive ball-side defensive pressure. The Bulls dominated the boards pretty much from start to finish. Chicago moved the ball, getting 27 assists on 40 field goals with four players getting five or more dimes. The Bulls turned the ball over too many times (20), but took advantage of Miami's miscues and were outscored by only six points in that category.

The crowd was into it, the Bulls' shooters were stroking it well and Miami's Dwyane Wade was slowed by a gimpy ankle.

But as much as anything, Chicago smacked Miami in the mouth, as the saying goes in sports. It's what the Bulls do, and it's why they've given the Heat as much trouble as any team over the past three seasons. Again, there is no magic bean when it comes to beating Miami consistently, but it's no coincidence that the streak was bookended by losses to big, physical teams in Indiana and Chicago. If the Heat struggle, it's most likely going to happen against a physical opponent.


To read more of Brad Doolittle's analysis of whether the Bulls' physical defense was the key to stopping the Miami Heat, become an Insider today.