The Chicago Bulls take their talents down to South Beach for game three of the Eastern Conference Finals. Going into an odd numbered game tied up always increased the importance of the game. The winner has a considerable advantage for the rest of the series as the loser is typically in dire straights in the next contest.
The Bulls came out and took advantage in game one to put that pressure on Miami, but the Heat responded. Can Chicago put the pressure back on Miami with a game three win?
This is the first game of the series I feel confident about
I was still scared of the Heat prior to game one, and in game two, I felt the Heat would respond. However, the Bulls have shown the Heat have plenty of flaws they can exploit. In a game two loss, the Bulls missed countless open shots, threes, and free throws and had a tie game with four minutes to go.
Maybe Miami has something left in the tank to bring out and show, maybe I'm not giving the Heat enough credit for their defense in game two, but for the first time I feel like the Bulls are simply the better team. As long as the defensive effort doesn't lapse, I think the Bulls are more likely than not to go on and win this series, a reversal of my original opinion.
It all starts with game three, as the winner will have a tremendous advantage going forward.
Over the past few days, I've proposed several adjustments for the team. They need to increase the pace without increasing the risk. Run the ball up the court, but don't force a shot unless it's a good shot. However, the goal is to start running the half court offense with 18 seconds left rather than 10-12 in order to get a better shot at the basket in the half court.
I do think the Bulls want this to remain largely a half court affair, I just think they want to do so with more time in the half court and possibly forcing a few switches of the Miami defense by forcing the ball up the court faster and catching them with early offense.
Quite simply, no one tries to or wants to miss shots, but the Bulls need to shoot better. 34% from the field isn't going to get it done. 15% from the three point line isn't going to get it done. 61.5% from the foul line isn't going to get it done.
The Bulls shot poorly in all phases which contributed greatly to them losing the game. Shooting closer to their season average in any area would have made the last game close.
Derrick Rose lost the battle of superstars last game as he struggled down the stretch and didn't outplay either LeBron or Wade. Derrick Rose was among many Bulls who missed shots he'd normally make.
Rose will need to play considerably better and provide the Bulls with an MVP worth performance to keep the pressure on Miami.
Withstand the charge
The crowd is going to be fired up for the Heat, the Bulls need a different type of energy and will require greater focus to rebound when Miami hits their hot streaks and the crowd is going nuts.
Even though the Bulls are on the road and coming off a loss, I feel strangely good about this one. Let's hope they don't disappoint us, but let's also remember, much like Miami only needed a split in Chicago, Chicago only needs a split in Miami to capture control of the series.