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Bull-ies on the boards against the Heat

5/7/2013

The Miami Heat's longest win streak of the season was 27 games.

Their second-longest win streak, when you combine the regular season and playoffs, was 12 games.

And both streaks were snapped by the Chicago Bulls.

In their last 44 games (again, including the postseason), the Heat are 2-2 against the Bulls and 39-1 against everyone else.

So what is it about the Bulls that allows them to have more success against the Heat than other teams?

3-Point Defense

Chicago's three-point defense has been one key against Miami since Tom Thibodeau was named head coach before the 2010-11 season.

In 17 regular season and playoff games against Thibodeau's Bulls, only 16.1 percent of the Heat's total points have come from the 3-point line. That's Miami's lowest percentage against any team, regular season and postseason, over that span. Against all other teams, 21 percent of the Heat's total points come from behind the arc.

Also over the past three seasons, the Heat make just 4.9 three-pointers per game against the Bulls, again their lowest average against any team.

Bulls on the Boards

In Game 1, the Bulls outrebounded the Heat, 46-32 -- the second-worst rebound differential for the Heat in a postseason game in the "Big 3" era. In fact, two of the Heat's four-worst rebound differentials in a postseason game have come against the Bulls over that span.

Heat's Worst Rebound Differential
Last 3 Postseasons

On Monday, the Bulls allowed the Heat to grab just 41 percent of the available rebounds. That's by far Miami's lowest rebound percentage in a single game this postseason and their second-lowest percentage in a postseason game in the "Big 3" era.

The only postseason game that the Heat recorded a lower rebound percentage over that span was against the Indiana Pacers in Game 3 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals (40.9).

Thibodeau vs LeBron

Since LeBron James' rookie season in 2003-04, his teams have struggled against defenses orchestrated by Thibodeau, who was an assistant with the Houston Rockets (2003-07) and Boston Celtics (2007-10) before he was named the Bulls head coach in 2010. In games he's played, James is a combined 21-27 against Thibodeau-coached defenses.

Not much has changed since LeBron joined forces with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Over the past three seasons, the Heat have averaged 99.4 points per 100 possessions against Thibodeau's Bulls -- the only team Miami has averaged less than 100 points per possession over that span.

Heat Still Heavy Favorites

Despite losing homecourt advantage, the Heat still project to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Based on mathematical modeling by numberFire, the Heat still have a 72.1 percent chance to win this series.