The Chicago Bulls went under the radar to a regular season best 62 win season, due mainly to the headlines being dedicated primarily to the Miami Heat. For better or for worse, any story was every story in South Beach, from Cry-gate to the shoulder bump. But while the gossip and scandal made most of the attention, the Heat began to learn how to play through controversy.
The Bulls however, have played through controversy since the first game of the regular season, Carlos Boozer forced Chicago to tame the waters without its big name summer signee. So to say both these teams are similar in more ways than one is an understatement.
The biggest question going into the playoffs was whether we would actually see this "Big 3" that was supposed to blow away the league and win "Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven", but multiple championships for South Beach. Throughout the regular season there were sparkles, but no consistent, nightly dominance of the three-headed monster that everybody loves to hate.
Until now, when it counts?
Fast forward to Game 3, another defensive showdown that swung the way of
the Miami Heat. The Heat not only won the physical battle against the
Bulls, but they won the psychological battle early. Joakim Noah was
taken out early in the first after taking a quick two fouls and got into
a jawing match with a fan seated nearby, ultimately uttering a gay slur
that will be looked over by the NBA.
Chris Bosh once again came
out aggressive and ended up with another 30 point performance, going
for 34pts, 5rebs, 2stl, and one block. Disrupting the entire Bulls team
defense, Bosh was once again left open to focus attention on the
distributing LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. Bosh's ability to convert
when getting opportunities stifled the Bulls defense and forced them to
play timid and under duress of fouling.
Chris Bosh now has confidence
3 couldn't have been more of an indicator that in order for Chicago to
win, they will have to come out with a better effort from the
contributing players not named Derrick Rose. And that doesn't boil down
only to offense. The Bulls players must continue to play the team
defense that disrupts the Miami half court offense and negates the
movement of Bosh off screens and forces more help side movement from the
Chicago interior. Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, and Kyle
Korver all had 3 or more fouls, 15 collectively to assists the Bulls in a
24-17 personal foul battle.
The free throw line will be key in
Game 4. The Miami Heat (29) went to the lines 8 more times than the
Bulls (21) and scored 8 more points due to the fact. Take away the early
careless fouls from Joakim and you have a more focused, energetic
effort, allowed Noah to get into the minds of his opponents, instead of
the other way around. Luol Deng, Keith Bogans, Kyle Korver (for the sake
of standing in front of LeBron,) and Ronnie Brewer all did excellent
jobs of containing James and Wade. Ultimately taking Wade out of the
game offensively and limiting James to primary ball distribution, before
he came alive in the 4th quarter.
So despite 39 points from LeBron James and Dwayne Wade combined, are the Bulls in trouble?
Short answer, yes. Long answer, not if the combination of Wade and James can score under 40 points in a loss.
The Bulls defense can be enough to stop the Big 3's production, but the
same team philosophy has to translate to the offensive end.
Miami Heat Big 3 came alive in Game 3, with each of trio contributing
on both sides of the ball. Chicago's strength going into the series was
their ability to go deep into the bench for support, ultimately taking
the load of the MVP and starting players. Unfortunately, after Game 1
the bench and supporting cast have been non-existent. Couple that with a
current streaky effort from Luol Deng and the meaningless 30pt, 17reb
effort from Carlos Boozer and it is clear that the Bulls need another
Game 3 vs Atlanta from Derrick Rose, where Rose went for 44pts when the
Bulls needed him to carry most of the offensive load.
Easier said than done against this stingy Miami defense.
failed to hit many shots down the stretch and made poor decisions that
were critical down the stretch. The Heat also took away the MVP's
dominance late in the game, when Rose usually tends to shine the
brightest, going 1-2 for 2 points in the 4th quarter.
I don't expect that to be the case in game 4
Game 1, the Miami Heat have been able to put a double team on Derrick
Rose after the pick on a pick and roll. This has visibly frustrated Rose
as his degree of difficulty in getting to the basket has increased
significantly. This is due primarily to the size and athleticism of the
Miami Heat, and ultimately the philosophy of eliminating Rose's shots at
the basket, forcing Derrick and the Bulls to knock down jumpers. Random
double teaming is proving to be the Kryptonite for Englewood's own
only played three of it's bench players for an average of about 20
minutes, the Bulls played 5 of it's bench and only got a contribution of
20 points 5 rebounds, 3ast, and 3 steals. Compare that to the 14
points, 4 rebounds, 3ast, and one steal from 2 of the Heat's bench
Udonis Haslem (8pts, 4rebs, 1ast, 1stl,) was the Miami
Heat's 4th leading scorer, giving Miami the 4th contribution that they
will need to advance to the NBA Finals. Haslem hit critical jump shots
in the second half and down the stretch in the 4th to demoralize the
Bulls defense and ultimately put the game away when Chicago had it down
to 7 with a little under 2 minutes to go. Haslem knocked down a 18ft
jumper with 1:28, after a Taj Gibson tip in for two to keep the Bulls at
distance and start the intentional foul give away's ending the game.
again Taj Gibson put up a solid performance putting up 11 points, 3
rebounds on 5-6 shooting. But it pretty much ended there for Chicago's
"Bench Mob." Kyle Korver was 1-2, only attempting one 3-pt shot (which
he converted) and was a humongous defensive liability. Omer Asik never
really got started and had to exit the game in the third due to a muscle
strain. He remains day-to-day. But the rest of the Bulls bench were not
only non-existent, but flat out detrimental, scoring 9 points,
committing six fouls, and a turnover in a combined 69 minutes.
was once thought of as a 2-on-1 fight, with LeBron James and Dwayne
Wade squaring off against the reigning MVP Derrick Rose looks like a
3-on-1 fight with the emergence of Chris Bosh.
"As I See It,"
if the Bulls are to bring the series back to Chicago tied 2-2; they
must step up offensively in support of Derrick Rose. If Tom Thibideau
must swallow his pride and give Rasual Butler a try at the 2 guard to
give struggling Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, and the reclusive shooter
Keith Bogans a spell, then what must be done, must be done.
Our playoffs hopes depend on it.
Here's in case you missed the game.