Last night was difficult for all of us. Miami overcame a slow start and put the Bulls away by halftime. In true Thibodeau fashion, they never gave in and cut the deficit to single digits in the fourth, but it was far too late. It felt eerily similar to one of last spring’s playoff games when the Heat defeated the Bulls 4-1. Of course, that series was without Derrick Rose. Should we trade him or something?
Everything’s going to be fine. As spoiled/fooled as we were by Rose’s dominance in the preseason (champs baby), he still has a sizable amount of work to do getting back to real NBA game condition. On top of that, Miami probably has the most athletic and attacking defense in the entire league. From the opening tip, it was obvious the Heat were going to blast Rose with pressure and force him to make plays. In this his first regular season game in well over a year, it’s not that surprising that the Heat were successful.
Of course, there were plenty of flashes of the Derrick Rose we’ve been pining for. On his first basket of the game, Rose beautifully split the double team of Heat defenders and uncorked one of his trademark layups (click the picture for the GIF):
His shot was off, however, missing six of the seven three pointers he attempted. Regardless, he looked healthy and aggressive. Plus, his jump shot used to look flat and often fall short; now, it appears to have a much nicer arc–a good sign of things to come. I’m not worried about Derrick. As I tweeted last night, this Miami defense is the exact reason why Rose wasn’t coming back for the playoffs. It’s a nightmare matchup for anyone, let alone a first real game after ACL surgery.
Joakim Noah’s health was a major concern in the preseason, but he managed to suit up and start last night. He only played 20 minutes, and he certainly looked rusty near the rim on offense, but it was good to see Noah active with two steals and two blocks. His 11 rebounds were phenomenal as well. Luol Deng struggled after getting into very early foul trouble. The fouls were one thing, but it was disconcerting to see Deng getting blown by on defense and clanking open jumpers on the other end.
Overall, there’s not much cause for panic. Everyone played and looked relatively healthy. Carlitos Boozer, as my Spanish amigo Jaime calls him, and Jimmy Butler played phenomenally and Taj Gibson looks ready to take up a step up as well. Look for a much better result for the home opener on Thursday against the Knicks.