On Tuesday, the question was whether the Miami Heat would beat the Chicago Bulls. On Wednesday, it changed back to whether the Heat would beat the 1996 Chicago Bulls, whose guard-turned-TNT-announcer Steve Kerr actually complained about the refereeing with the Bulls behind by 41 points. The Heat’s average playoff score is now a 99-85 win, three points better than the 98-87 margin averaged in the playoffs by the 1996 Bulls team that went 72-10 during the season.
In all sports, point differential is one of the best predictors of future wins and losses. Teams like this year’s Bulls who have winning records despite being outscored (won five of nine playoff games by being outscored 95-100) almost always begin to lose more games.
After stunning Miami in Game 1, the Bulls Nate Robinson and then the Heats Dwyane Wade were both knocked to the ground hard in the opening moments, and the series took a nasty edge. The Bulls stayed close for almost 20 minutes, but Norris Cole eventually hit a three-pointers on Nate Robinson to give the Heat a double digit lead (52-41), which started a 55-17 run during which two Bulls were ejected.
Toward the end of the run, Chris Anderson rejected a Bulls shot with the Heat up 91-56. As players tussled and argued, Joakim Noah was ejected, and Taj Gibson joined him after drawing two technicals and apparently cursing on his way out. Kerr joined the critism from his TNT microphone, saying “I don’t blame Gibson.”
Allen, one of the greatest free throw shooters in the history of the NBA, then sank four consecutive free throws to make it 97-56. The Bulls got back within 40, but two free throws by Anderson, a lay-up by Cole, and then a layup and another free throw by energy man Anderson made it 104-58 with 8:27 to play.
The stars were able to rest up as the Bulls tightened the final slighly to 115-76, but with another blow out win, the Heat is once again looking as hard to beat as the Bulls. The following is a list of the Bulls playoff games in 1996, which included three losses.
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|New York Knicks||91||84|
|New York Knicks||91||80|
|New York Knicks||99||102|
|New York Knicks||94||91|
|New York Knicks||94||81|