By Jay Cipoletti
In their March 27 win over the Miami Heat, the Chicago Bulls limited the defending champions to 2-of-12 shooting in the "cradle" just inside the 3-point arc and allowed only five Corner 3-point attempts, of which the Heat made two.
Monday night's Game 1 saw a similar shot chart for Miami -- 4-of-13 from the cradle and only 3-of-8 on Corner 3s. And it yielded the same result -- a Bulls win, as well as with the Heat's first postseason loss .
|Miami vs Chicago, Game 1
||Miami vs Chicago, Mar 27
|Miami vs Chicago||Game 1|
-7.7 Net Rtg
|Reg. Season (2-2)|
+8.2 Net Rtg
In addition to their strong perimeter defense, the Bulls also limited the Heat near the basket, where they had been incredibly efficient throughout the season and especially their opening round series against Milwaukee.
The Heat shot 68.0 percent inside eight feet against the Bucks and 63.4 percent during the regular season. On Monday night, they converted only 51.6 percent (16-of-31).
The Bulls also held significant advantages in effective field goal percentage (48.6% to Miami's 44.2%) and free throw rate (.408 to Miami's .321). During their four regular season matchups, the Heat dominated these categories, with a 52.8 percent to 45.3 percent advantage in eFG% and a .382 to .261 edge in FTA Rate.
A closer look at these factors lessens the surprise of Chicago's Game 1 victory. But can they do it three more times against the defending champs?