Reflecting on Bulls' playoff loss to Heat on 10-year anniversary

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Reflecting on Bulls' playoff loss to Heat 10 years later originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Wednesday marked the 10-year anniversary of the Chicago Bulls losing Game 5 and the 2011 Eastern Conference finals to the Miami Heat.

The series was supposed to set up a rivalry for the ages, one in which Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah would battle LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on grand stages for the foreseeable future.

Instead... Well, if you’re reading this, you know what happened next. Rose suffered the first of several serious knee injuries the following April when he tore his left ACL in a playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Heat went to three more NBA Finals consecutively, winning two.

Let’s take a look at the 2011 Eastern Conference finals by the numbers:

40:58

The amount of time the Bulls led in Game 5, following a similar trend from the Game 4 loss. The teams were tied for 1 minute, 50 seconds, while the Heat led just 5:11.

Game 5 turned when LeBron James sank a tying 3-pointer with 61 seconds left, then stole a pass from Rose and followed with a 20-foot jumper to give the Heat their only fourth-quarter lead with 29.5 seconds left.

28.2

The Bulls’ shooting percentage in the second half when they scored just 35 points. The starting five of Rose, Deng, Noah, Carlos Boozer and Keith Bogans shot 7-for-31 after halftime.

21

The difference in points scored by the Heat’s Big Three of James, Wade and Bosh (69) and the Bulls’ Big Three of Rose, Deng and Noah (48). Rose needed 29 shots for his 25 points in the defensive struggle of the series. James led all scorers with 28 points, while Wade and Bosh both eclipsed 20 points.

37

In a sign of how much the game has changed in just a decade, the teams combined for 37 3-point attempts. The Heat took just 15, though they did get to the free-throw line 33 times for a plus-12 advantage in that department.

Only James, with three, and Rose and Deng, with two each, sank more than one 3-pointer in the low-scoring affair.

4

The number of active players, two for each team. James is leading the Los Angeles Lakers in their quest to repeat as NBA champions, while Udonis Haslem is finishing his 18th season in a mostly non-playing role as the Heat try to rally from a 2-0 deficit to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Both Rose and Taj Gibson still play for Tom Thibodeau, but, in their third stop together past the Bulls and Timberwolves, it’s for the New York Knicks now.

67

The difference in playoff games played between the two franchises since this series. The Bulls have appeared in 41 games since, none past the second round and none since 2017. Entering Thursday’s Game 3 against the Bucks, the Heat have played in 108 playoff games since then, including Finals appearances in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2020.

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