Chicago Bulls guard Nate Robinson,left, battles for a loose ball against Miami Heat guard Norris Cole, center, and forward Shane Battier, right, during the first half of Game 4 on Monday, May 13, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
For all the talk about Chicago burying Miami in deep shit, we have seen a Bulls squad who knew how to bully but could not make baskets when it mattered most.
Tom Thibodeau's rag-tag crew of determined cagers rising above physical limitations is now staring at a 3-1 deficit – one game away from elimination, one game away from being just another footnote in the Heat's probable run to another championship.
With Derrick Rose choosing to watch from the sidelines instead of slugging it out on the court and Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich injured after pushing themselves to the limit, Chicago has failed to equal their pushing and shoving with making shots.
On the other hand, the Heat are bringing in nasty efficiency of their own in making sure that the series shifts into their favor.
While Miami has allowed Chicago to score 93 and 94 points in Games 1 and 3, respectively, the Heat's pesky defense have forced the Bulls to record lows in Games 2 and 4.
After getting beaten in the series opener, Miami responded with a brutal blowout, crushing Chicago, 115-78, in what was the worst playoff loss in the Bulls' storied history.
Nine technical fouls were issued in that game, with Chicago combining for six and Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson getting booted out of the match with two apiece. The Bulls threw their weight around, tried to throw the Heat off their game with what Tim Reynolds called "extracurricular pushing and shoving."
Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, far right, yells out after he and Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) received technical fouls during the first half of Game 2, Wednesday, May 8, 2013, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
In the end, Miami answered physicality with efficiency, making 60 percent of their shots, issuing 29 assists and draining half their 3-pointers to bounce back from their first postseason loss.
Chicago was only able to muster 35.5 percent shooting, 17 assists (to 17 turnovers) and only 28 rebounds (to the Heat's 41) as they headed home looking for answers.
And in Game 3, they got none.
Miami played the Bulls' game, pounding the ball and drilling the three-ball to run away late and win, 104-94.
Even displays of physical attrition like what Noah did to Chris Andersen early and The Shove delivered by Nazr Mohammed to LeBron James didn't deter the Heat from focusing on the task at hand.
Game 4 looked to be Chicago's last stand, with what could be their last home game of the season happening with their backs strapped to the wall.
Sensing blood, Miami jumped the gun on the Bulls, pushed them around and forced them to a bloody night in which Thibodeau's wards shot 19 of 74 from the field – a 25.7 percent shooting night that set another playoff low for the franchise.
Chicago only managed to score 65 points throughout the game – another franchise playoff low – and if the Heat didn't remove their feet on the gas pedal late, things could've been worse for the Windy City.
In their last three games, Miami has made an astounding 52.9 percent of their shots against the Bulls, who are popularly known to possess one of the stingiest defenses in the NBA.
Meanwhile, Chicago, while taking more shot attempts, has drilled in only 35.6 percent, with wonder boy Nate Robinson finally looking to have run out of gas when he laid a big, fat egg in Game 4.
Carlos Boozer continued to bring in offense for the Bulls, but he, Jimmy Butler, Noah and Robinson teamed up to shoot eight-of-42 in their most recent loss – a sign that this team has almost nothing left in the tank.
Miami, on the other hand, heads home with a seemingly insurmountable lead on their hands. And with a chance to further send Chicago deeper into the hole, expect LeBron, Chris Bosh and the hobbled Dwyane Wade to not let up, be more aggressive and try to finish the series in front of their home crowd.
Miami Heat forward Chris Andersen (11) is defended by Chicago Bulls' Taj Gibson (22), Marquis Teague (25) and Nazr Mohammed (48) after grabbing a rebound against Chicago Bulls defense during the first half of Game 4. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
They might not have been the more physical, more bruising team in this series, but the Heat proved one thing here: basketball games are won by making baskets and by preventing your opponents from making baskets.
It's less about intensity, but more about efficiency. It's more about the tools to win it not just the will to do so. And at this stage, it's more about health than heart.
"Nobody can hide from the fact that the games will be decided between those four lines," was how coach Erik Spoelstra perfectly put it.
So talk and talk and talk about the Heat's demise. Talk about how Miami is too soft for the rugged Bulls. Talk about the reigning world champs being in deep whatever.
In the end, it's about basketball. And there is no doubt that this is the best basketball team in the planet.