It wasn't easy nor by any means was it pretty, but on Tuesday night the Miami Heat managed to dig deep and pull out a victory in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals to take a three games to one series lead over the Chicago Bulls. To be fair, no one expected it to be easy.
It wasn't supposed to be.
After all, the Chicago Bulls are led by league MVP Derrick Rose, they had swept Miami in all three games in the regular season and they never lost more than two games in a row in the regular season. Well, after Tuesday night they have now lost three straight against Miami and Rose has looked like anything but the MVP.
Wait, so does that mean the regular season doesn't matter? I'll let you decide that.
Leading up to the game there was a lot of talk coming out of Chicago, especially from Rose, that the young superstar was going to attempt to put the team on his back and carry them to victory. In my game preview, I stated that this would either result in brilliance or the complete opposite for Rose.
Let's put it this way, it didn't turn out how Rose or the Bulls had hoped. In fact, it wasn't even remotely close to turning out that way.
The 2010-2011 MVP shot a putrid 15 percent on 8 of 27 from the field, including just 3 of 11 from outside the paint. Rose forced shots all night long and paid dearly for it. Along with his poor shooting, the star also turned the ball over five times.
After the game Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was quoted saying, "[Rose] was attacking the basket. He hasn't been able to get to the foul line like we thought he would."
It's clear that Chicago feels Rose was robbed on many calls, but the fact is this is the playoffs. There were plenty of times when LeBron James or Dwyane Wade drew contact, but no whistles were blown. The postseason is known for its physical nature, especially when you get this deep.
Wade Wakes Up at Right Time
For the third time in the last four games, Dwyane Wade just didn't look like Dwyane Wade.
It started with a missed wide-open dunk on a fastbreak in the first quarter. It only went downhill from there, as Wade continued to struggle all night long in regulation. Whether it was just losing control of the ball or missing shots he almost always nails, Wade just couldn't catch a break.
But his teammates and coaches were always behind him.
"We reminded them in one of those last four huddles that this was his time," commented Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra after the game.
With his back against the wall, the Chicago native found the answer to his struggles and incredibly found a way to bounce back after what many are saying could have been his worst playoff performance of his career. In the five minutes of overtime, Wade accounted for a rebound, two monster blocks and four huge points.
However, Miami will need Wade to break out of his mini-slump if they want any shot at taking game five in Chicago and sealing the deal. Hopefully Tuesday's overtime can be the push the shooting guard needs.
Miami's Suffocating Defense
It's been the story of the series – the Chicago Bulls defense has been great, but the Miami Heat's has been even better. After four games the Bulls have still yet to shoot higher than 42 percent. On Tuesday they were held to 40 percent from the field.
Miami's defensive energy was what undoubtedly kept them in the game when their offense wasn't there. They never let up the intensity on the defensive side of the ball and it ended up paying great dividends.
As a team the Heat accounted for an incredible 10 blocks, 12 steals and created 19 turnovers. Not to mention they continued their stellar effort of shutting down the dangerous and speedy Rose.
If Miami can keep the energy level high on defense, it's difficult to see anyone beating them.
James' and Miller's "Clutchness"
It's becoming a pattern in Miami. A pattern that every Heat fan is loving, while everyone else is fearing. LeBron James continues to step up in big moments and come through when his team needs him the most.
Whether it's been on defense or making a big shot, James has done it all this postseason. The star forward scored 13 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
On a more surprising note, the other player to come up big for Miami several times on Tuesday night was no one other than Mike Miller. After struggling all year and battling various injuries, the former Florida Gator finally did what the Heat pay him to do – make shots, big shots. And it couldn't have come at a better time, as the Heat were ailing with Wade's shooting struggles.
Miller added 9 invaluable points of his own in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line. All of his baskets came when the game was either tied or at a one point difference.
Clutch? I'd say so.
Looking ahead to game five, it's quiet clear that we will witness another hard fought battle between two defensive heavyweights. It will be very possible for Miami to pull out a series-clinching win, but it will be tough.
The good news for Heat fans is that after the game James said the team will treat it as a must-win game. You have to love hearing that if you're a Miami fan.
However, I must stick with my original prediction of the Heat in game six. Let's see how it unfolds.
Don't forget to follow us on Twitter @MIAHEATInsider. You can also follow the author on his personal account, @Sean_Grimm.