Home > Bulls > Whether we like it or not, it’s the Heat’s time to shine

Whether we like it or not, it’s the Heat’s time to shine

Anger is the chosen emotion for most Bulls’ fans today after a 101-93 Game 4 overtime loss to the Miami Heat.

Anger pointed toward Tom Thibodeau for calling two consecutive isolation sets for Derrick Rose against the six-inch taller, freak-of-an-athlete LeBron James at the end of regulation. It’s pointed toward Rose himself for shooting 8-for-27, missing a possible game-winning free throw in the final minutes and his costly turnovers in the overtime period.

Toward Carlos Boozer for his matador help defense. Toward the referees for the Heat’s 38-to-22 free-throw attempt advantage.

I, on the other hand, have picked sorrow as my preferred way of coping with a 3-1 deficit to star-studded Miami because the Heat are just better.

The Bulls were supposed to be the giant slayers, the white knight, the rebel alliance that would overthrow the evil empire. I thought Rose and company had it in them. They don’t – not yet at least.

The Bulls lost what made them great in the regular season: energy, confidence and the naivety that they had nothing to lose. After the Bulls’ Game 1 runaway rout of the Heatles, it appears the pressure of playing for the NBA Finals has weighed on the youth-led Bulls, especially Rose, the 22-year-old regular season MVP.

Rose hasn’t been himself this series, shooting 36 percent from the field, 10 percent below his season average. He also has just 25 assists in four games, almost four less per game than his average during the first two rounds of the playoffs. Of course, Miami’s superior length and athleticism has a lot to do with that.

But maybe we asked too much of the third-year point guard to carry the Bulls to a place the franchise hadn’t been since No. 23 retired for the second time 13 years ago.

For perspective, look at Jordan, who needed seven seasons before making his first Finals appearance. Need more? Just look at the guy guarding Rose during the final six minutes of last night’s game.

James is in his eighth NBA season. He arguably has been the best player in the NBA for six of those years and would’ve won his third straight MVP if not for Rose. Yet, he’s been to the Finals just once in his first seven seasons.

But it wasn’t his time then. The Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic and San Antonio Spurs made sure of it. His time is now. And it took The Decision – deciding to team up with fellow free agents Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh during the summer – and all the uproar surrounding it to finally emerge as a Finals favorite.

Based on declines from Boston and Orlando, it looks like Miami will stay there for a while too.

Rose already has a better supporting cast than James ever had in Cleveland. James likely would win a title if he and Rose switched teams this season. But James also has the memory and experience of past playoff failures.

So don’t doubt Rose for too long. This experience will make the humble superstar better. He repeatedly will watch this film of this series (the Bulls can still advance to the Finals with three straight wins, though only eight teams have comeback from a 3-1 deficit) and learn to trust his teammates more and to avoid falling in love with his average jumpshot. He’ll get back in the gym and improve that jumper, especially his below average three-point percentage.

But he’s not quite there yet. And that means the Bulls can’t beat James and the gang.

That makes me sad – for today.

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