Bulls vs Heat 8:30pm on ESPN

Bulls vs Heat 8:30pm on ESPN

The Bulls and Heat renew their rivalry in a late starting game on TNT tonight. The Heat are coming off an overtime loss to the Magic where LeBron James willed the Magic to win with his ineffective fourth quarter and overtime play while the Bulls had a day off in which Rose limped away from film session before getting into a minor car accident. Oh yeah, he was also fined 25k for his thoughts about the refs screwing him over. Cue Daniel Powter.

Walking wounded?

Loul Deng practiced on Tuesday and is likely to play against Miami as long as he doesn't have a set back today from yesterday's practice.

Derrick Rose was expected to play prior to the car accident which has been deemed minor and presumably will still be ready to go tonight. His missed practice reportedly due to wear and tear and not a continuation of the back and toe injuries that plagued him earlier.

C.J. Watson didn't practice Tuesday, but Tom Thibodeau noted he still has some chance to play if he feels good at game time.

The Heat will be without Mike Miller who sprained his ankle a few days ago and is not traveling with the team.

What are Miami's weaknesses

Miami doesn't have a whole lot of weaknesses. They're a tremendous team, and the weaknesses they do have are difficult to exploit.

LeBron can get psyched out

When he's feeling confident, he simply can't be stopped and can barely be contained. Unfortunately for Chicago, the Bulls are a team LeBron has generally exuded confidence against. Last night he looked scared as hell of Dwight Howard in the paint when he drove, couldn't shoot and even passed the ball poorly.

The Bulls don't see that LeBron often, but if they want to see him the key will be to get him off his game early to get the mental wheels turning. That said, it's a chicken and egg argument. For LeBron to play poorly you need to get him to play poorly. Unfortunately, he already believes he owns Chicago and will likely come out strong as he has in the past.

LeBron and Wade still have no two man game

Imagine if Miami had a real coach? Maybe they kept Spoelstra to keep it fair for the rest of the league. Watching the Heat play in a close game the lack of coaching is almost laughable. They are still basically rolling the ball out while James and Wade shrug their shoulders at each other trying to decide who's turn it is to run an isolation.

It's tough to create an offense centered around two perimeter players who require the ball in their hands, so perhaps its not entirely fair to rip on Spoelstra, but the fact that the Heat offense tends to shift into a pure isolation oriented offense in tight situations does fit in well with Chicago's defensive strengths in stopping isolation offenses.

Lack of post defense/offense

Miami doesn't have a ton of size or strength in the post, however, the Bulls aren't well equipped to do anything about it. Bosh can still defend Boozer and Noah is respectable enough for a few possessions here and there but certainly not skilled enough down low to take over a game.

On offense, Miami isn't going to get much out of the low post, but quite frankly, the rules no longer favor a low post oriented team anyway, so they aren't missing out on much.

Keys to the game

First and foremost, Chicago needs Derrick to play well

There's at least some doubt as to whether he'll play at all, but knowing Rose, he'll do just about anything to play in this game. That said walking out there if he's not in physical condition to play will do little good and likely just cause a string of losses in the upcoming games.

The Bulls not only need Rose to play, but they need him to play at his best. Unfortunately, Miami has the perimeter defense to successfully blitz Rose if the rest of the Bulls don't step up and make them pay for it. Something which the cast was unable to do in the playoffs last season.

I know there will be some talk about LeBron defending Rose. I think this is somewhat overrated. Rose can beat LeBron off the dribble fairly easily if they're in isolation. The problem comes when Miami double teams with LeBron (or Wade) as part of the double. That's a ton of athleticism to deal with if there's a secondary helper as well.

However, despite Rose missing those two jumpers in game four which led to the "LeBron can defend Rose" mantra, he did get back to back open mid range shots against LeBron. Both of which were FAR easier than the shot he hit against Brandon Jennings to win the game a few days ago.

Who steps up?

Can Luol Deng come back and have a quality shooting night? Can Taj Gibson continue to be a monster on the glass? Can Carlos Boozer knock down his jumper like he has the past few games? Will Joakim Noah continue his hot play? Will we get the automatic Kyle Korver or the brick open shots Kyle Korver?

These are the guys the Bulls need to step up their play around Derrick and none of them are consistent. In the playoffs, virtually none of them stepped up. If we're going to note that LeBron can get psyched out, then it's only fair to note every single Bulls player outside of Rose was shitting their pants last playoffs, scared as hell to touch the ball.

The Bulls need to play with confidence or this thing is over. If they get to a late game scenario and everyone but Rose views the basketball as a hot potato then they're not going anywhere. These guys need to take and make their open shots for Chicago to stand a chance.

To offensive rebound or not to offensive rebound?

The Bulls can crush teams by pounding the offensive glass, unfortunately when a team attacks the offensive glass and fails it opens itself up to transition attacks. The Miami Heat have the best transition game in the NBA, one of the best I've ever seen. If the Bulls play to their strengths, they also open up Miami to play to their strengths as well.

Chicago will need to be careful about when and how it attacks the glass. Their shooters who take spot up shots from the corners need to immediately start heading back on defense rather than posing after the shot or following it in. Chicago can probably afford to send one big man to the glass, but they need at least three guys sprinting back on D every play to stop the Heat from cruising in transition.

Seed at stake?

Presently, Chicago has a half game lead in the loss column and a two and a half game lead overall. However, the lead in the wins column is relatively meaningless, and Chicago's going to finish the season with a brutal schedule. The Bulls don't need to beat Miami this game in order to grab the #1 seed, but they probably will need to split the season series at two a piece.

Could Chicago lose tonight and win the next two? Sure. Anything's possible. However, you certainly wouldn't place money on it. As such, the game tonight has pretty important seeding aspects. If the Bulls can go up two games in the loss column to Miami it gives them some wiggle room as they fight through a tough schedule the rest of the year.

If they fall to Miami tonight, they'll still be tied in the loss column, but will likely lose the tie breaker if the teams end up tied at the end of the year. They'll obviously still have a decent shot at the #1 seed, but their path towards it will become much tougher.

Final thoughts

It's hard to go into a Bulls / Heat matchup expecting a win. Chicago can beat Miami, but Miami is the favorite unless Chicago can prove otherwise in the playoffs. Chicago played them close last game and perhaps would have won in Miami without Deng if it weren't for Rose's missed free throws, but it was a massive choke job at the end by the Heat that allowed Chicago to sneak back into a game the Heat controlled for almost the entire time.

Will Chicago find a way to get it done tonight? I'd like to think so, but it's tough to beat Miami in any circumstances and even tougher when your two best perimeter players are banged up to the point they might sit out if it were a different opponent.

Comments

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  • I can only hope that since Miami played in an overtime game last night in Orlando, it helps the Bulls in terms of energy. Also, the Heat have a 3-game road losing streak going, so they haven't exactly been tearing it up. I give the Bulls a 50/50 shot at winning tonight, but as Doug said, it's going to come down to guys like Deng, Korver and Boozer carrying their load and not having it come down to Rose trying to do it all himself late in the 4th quarter because none of his teammates showed up.

    I'm also interested to see if Butler plays, and if so, who he guards. He's done such a good job on Melo in the two games he's guarded him, it makes me wonder how he'd do on LeBron. Certainly not as well as Deng, but perhaps those two can make it so LeBron has nothing easy all game.

  • Doug, I'm glad you (and Sam Smith) debunked the "LeBron shut down Rose" thing. I felt the same way you did, but I thought maybe I was being a homer. The narrative changes so much if Rose hits either of those jumpers in Game 4.

    This looks to be the reverse of last season, where the Heat were banged up all regular season, and then beat us in the playoffs when they got healthy. I'd love for the Bulls to win tonight, but I'd be ok with a loss if the playoff result was different.

  • I wonder what Doug and the so-called Bulls fans would have said about the Bulls' chance against the formidable Miami team if they had blown Orlando out of the arena last night? Nil!
    I guess we'll just have to beat them, beat them, and beat them whenever we meet them. And even then they'll not be satisfied and find some excuse for Miami losing.
    I'll go with the Bulls tonight, emphatically! Our record says we're the better team.

  • I just watched the last quarter & ot of the Orlando/Miami game - made me feel a lot more confident about tonight. The heat had no clue what to do on offence. But then maybe it was a bad game for them, I don't watch them much.

  • "Even in Miami Mimami" closing vocal riff, Rock Down To Electric Avenue, Eddy Grant.

    Even with the Miami Mimami Heat coming to town generally looking awesome, despite an aggravating loss to Orlando last night, you have to keep your perspective.

    We are clearly not at full strength so lets not get completely unwound about the importance of this game. Although it is important to a degree. You lose, but represent then everything's OK. You play like sheet being Jo, Taj, Booz, or Derrick then that's a negative input going forward.

    Upside: Jimmy Butler looks a bit intriguing right now. Yes, maybe he's just a glue guy with basketball instincts, intangibles and impressive defensively. Even if so he could be a factor come playoff time. Especially if Deng continues to battle his wrist injury which most likely he will. The team just seems to respond hugely to any impact he provides, an impact which can become multiplied and contagious.

    I'd honestly rather see Deng come back when he normally would(if that would have been tonight anyway then fine), but not rush in just to play Miami with a sore wrist. Similar to RIP rushing back to face Wade, and then taking another 10 games off. Likewise C.J.

    Derrick skipping practice, I hope he;s OK. If he's missing practice because he's just a little sore fine. If he's missing practice because he's aggravated some nagging injury toe or back then I say if he would normally need a few days off then sit him unless he absolutely demands to play in this one(which most likely he will). But I doubt he's seriously injured even though he missed practice..?

    Beating Miami with RIP out, Lu hurting, and if Derrick has some nagging injury flare up..? I mean give me a break. That's not really the Bulls team in total, and a loss with that group doesn't indicate who we are as a team. The Bulls have won so many games, they shouldn't be blamed if one loss now to Miami makes the difference in deciding home court.

    Just don't get your ass kicked. Jo and Taj need to represent not just against lessor teams, but against their nemesis aka the Heat. They have been turning it up a notch both on offense and defense. Doing so tonight then that's big for future reference as in playoffs Vs Miami. Boozer puts up decent offensive numbers, then huddles around the charging lane arch to deny drives to the basket and (tries)rotating in the post to cover others who have to help or double then he's done his job.

    If Butler does see significant minutes again, one thing I would not do is put him on James. Last time he looked just not big enough. Not yet anyway. Not many guys do have the strength to cover James. If no Deng, Ronnie will have to make do. Lu has the strength to joust with him if he does play.

    Butler right now appears to be able to cover a Carmelo. How about a Wade..?? If he was sucessful covering Dwyane Wade then that would be a big step and a statement. If he's getting roasted then pull him off of him.

    One other note: After BronBron dumped his former team, they still accomodated him with a sign and trade for picks, and a trade exception. I'm sure most would say you take what you can get. hell, they will make up in endorsements what they would lose refusing to S&T them. Still, if somebody stood up to these guys, and said NO, then they would lose a year and some $30 Mil(?) or notable wallop to their expansive pocketbooks. It is in a sense validating player (collusion)control of franchises, and deception in James case. They have a right to choose, but that doesn't mean you can't discourage it i.e make them pay. It appears now the Magic will do the same thing at the end of the year. Dwight will punk them, and I doubt Orlando gets Lopez or much else.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    The S & T for Howard/LeBron doesn't matter to the players because these guys will get another contract where that 5th year money is made up(most of it) as the 1st year of a new contract. The main point is the CBA failed to address this issue after 2010 FA. It is drama but Howard is either so indecisive or he is screwing Orlando all over. If the old owner of the Magic is in some delusional "Magic" world, that Howard will resign, they are in trouble. And as other people have been saying, the Front Offices are probably smarter than what they were in 2010 and will not do a rental after seeing the collusion of LeBron/Wade or Melo wanting one location only.

    BTW, if Rose is hurt....just sit him. Maybe JL3 will go for 30+ points as he is pretty fearless in chucking. And I like the direction the Heat is going. Wade thinks he is some kind of Ray Allen type shooter.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I admit I don't have the time or maybe the knack for understanding or retaining all the ramifications of the CBA and sign and trade details. It just made me sick watching the Cavs accomodate LeBron in any way after he played the fans big time. I doubt Howard is much better either from the way he's dicked around Orlando with back and forth spin at every turn.

    I agree if Derrick's injured, now they're saying it's a groin pull against New York on a fall, you sit him for a few days. Hopefully it is not a serious injury because I can almost gaurantee between his and Thib's stubborness he will play tonight.

  • Again, if Butler can play Carmelo it seems very effectively, is Wade so much quicker that he can't have a go at defending him also to see what he can do?

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Thibs should try Butler a little bit on LeBron. It is dangerous though if he gets schooled by LeBron as he may lose his confidence on defense. One thing about Butler is he looks poised but is probably not very confident right now. He passes up open shots or is tentative on offense(which is obvious as he is a rookie and hasn't played much). I guess it is better late than never for him to get experience against good teams. Rip, Deng being injured has been kind of a blessing in that Thibs has to put out Butler instead of playing Deng for 48 mins.
    The Bulls need a "spark" player on offense from the wing against Miami. That's why even a knucklehead like Nick Young might work. All they have to do is just make some shots when the offense is struggling without worrying about the best shot.

  • Now they're saying Derrick requested an MRI for his groin injury? Sounds like he needs a few games off. Not an injury you want to mess with.

  • Bulls should win this one. They didn't play last night and had a practice while the heat played a ot game last night.

    the game is on espn not tnt, today is wednesday.

  • In non-Bulls related news....D'Antoni resigned!

    http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/new-york-knicks-coach-mike-dantoni-resigns-031412

  • In reply to NateTags:

    Rose strikes again...This is really weird. Coaches get fired after they play the Bulls...

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I think it probably has more to do with the players in NY than Rose ... rumours were Melo was going to request a trade if D'Antoni wasn't fired. Now NY at this point might well be open to dumping Melo after how he's played, but they probably want time to work a deal where they get value, and D'Antoni's contract was up at the end of the season anyway, so he had to go.

  • Now that Dwight has screwed the Magic with his "roll the dice" comment and forced them to trade him, I think the Bulls should definitely call Orlando and say, "Okay, we'll give you Boozer/Deng/Asik/Charlotte pick/our 2012 first-round pick" for Dwight with no extension guarantee. Plus Turkoglu. As the Bulls are currently constructed, everyone knows they're a great team but no one is afraid of them. With Dwight and Rose, the Bulls would be feared. That's what we need. I don't care if he wants to be here. He plays like a beast in Orlando even when he doesn't "want" to be there.

    By making this trade, the Bulls become favorites to win the championship--they just need to sign a second PF--and they prevent New Jersey from starting a new dynasty today or tomorrow.

  • In reply to bzoooty:

    Orlando isn't taking the Matapussy even if we throw in Rose.

  • Looks like Deng is playing tonight, Rose and Watson are game-time decisions, and Rip is out (big news, I know!). It could be ugly tonight if the only PG's are Lucas and James!

    If Rose doesn't play, they should definitely sit Deng. I think we all agree that the Bulls have no chance tonight without Rose, so why not rest Deng for another game and not "waste" him on a night where they have no chance.

  • Thibs as an option to coach the Knicks?

    https://twitter.com/#!/FisolaNYDN/status/180013618165854210

  • Bulls will have to play some hell of a defense to beat the Heat. I think the Heat are in the Bulls players heads and just too much offense for the Bulls to handle. Hope that I'm wrong, but I look for a Bulls loss tonight especially with the injury bug having a strong hold on some of the Bulls weapons.

  • The Bulls tend to be a high turnover team and that is exactly what the Heat feast on. To have any chance against this team, you can not have high turnovers or get them excessive free cheese at the ft line. Make them a one and done jumpshooting team, if bron and wade make their jimmys, call it a night and get ready for the next one. I think you need to give lebron different looks to see what works, start out with Deng and Brewer but also give butler a few minutes on him along with the taller athletic Taj Gibson. We need to see what works since he's been playing out of his mind when he faces the Bulls.

  • I can't believe rose ain't playing tonight. he better not come back friday vs portland either or i'll have to question the seriousness if his injury.

  • Well... won't bother paying too much attention to this game with Rose being out. When the Bulls only one trick pony is out meaning the only consistent player that they have on a night in and night out basis, there chances ay beating the Heat are less than 30%. Too many injuries this year but part of the game

  • In reply to Reese1:

    30% would be optimistic. I think with Rose, they're probably around 30-40%.

    Without him, it's probably sub 10%.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Rose being out sucks for what it will do to the Bulls chances at the important #1 seed. But on the bright side it means if the Bulls lose it's meaningless because of no Rose, but if they win the Heat are going to cop it.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I know... just trying to give them a little hope, very frustrating.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Yup... this went from a must watch to a maybe DVR. A win would be a fluke and a loss is expected... Im not sure you could take away much from either unless someone has a great standout game. Maybe Butler's D on Wade?

  • If Rose isn't playing, Deng might as well sit out as well, what's the point of killing yourself guarding Leroids (and you know Thibodeau will make him play 45 min) if there is no way they're gonna win? I'd sit whoever else is hurting, just throw the white flag... maybe the Heat get confused or somethin

  • At this point I hope those who weren't going to watch because of no Rose didn't follow through with the threat ...

  • In reply to Shakes:

    Let's not get carried away, Bulls having great half, second half still to come. Hope the Bulls can keep the intensity.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Like I said, I hope people got to watch it.

    And I think with the lead the Bulls have they're favourites from here, Rose or no Rose.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    Obviously Bulls fans are watching and the Bulls are not the favorite til the final buzzer and they have the lead then.

  • That's a good half, but in regards to Thonus' point of psyching out Lebron, the bulls are incapable of it. He doesnt fear them at all

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    He definitely does not fear Deng. But the good thing is I feel Deng thinks he can guard LeBron(although it isn't the truth)

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Nah deng knows he can't guard lebron, he looks frustrated out there everytime lebron schools him.

  • JL3 can be the JJ Barea for the Bulls. All we need is 10/15 mins of his fearless shooting when everybody is struggling in 2/3 games to turn a playoff series.

  • Refs trying to keep Miami close

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Agreed 200%...

  • 5:35 remaining. Bulls up 10.

    We know Heat will surge.
    Will Bulls find the SCORING to stay ahead of Heat.
    Who will step up for some big buckets?

  • carlton banks goin crazy, but gotta stop somebody

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    Yes gotta get a couple stops.
    And someone else has to score in addition to Lucas. Can't expect him to carry the entire load. Who wants the shot?

    3:32 remaining Bulls up 8.

  • Boozer can't get inspired by even JL3... This shows sometimes it is more than talent.

  • It's funny watching the last 2 minutes and LeBron is guarding a guy who 'shouldn't even be in the NBA, is only on the Bulls roster because of "nepotism"'.

  • Heat have hit some tough tough shots to stay in this. Hope Deng is going to rest up some more after this game, his shooting has been way off at times, he must still be hurting.

  • Gutsy win by the Bulls without their all star guard. Total team effort and JL3 playing the role of Rose very very well in being the player of the game. These guys for Miami are DAMN near automatic in scoring....

  • Great win bulls. I'm very proud of bulls. However this game shows us how bad is boozer ! he must be traded tomorrow for anyone !!

  • Huge win in the race for #1! Lucas for MVP! Ok maybe not.

    LeBron is just scary good though ... Deng guarded him pretty well, made him take tough fade aways and he just kept on hitting them, no way to stop it. Wade got hot at the end too. Just lucky that Chris Bosh seems to be the only PF in the league who doesn't circle the Bulls on his calendar.

    I think the Bulls continue to show they're not a one man team: 8-3 without Rose now. Has there ever been a team that is this good yet has such a wide spread of talent that they can lose any player and hardly miss a beat?

    I also think the Bulls continue to disprove the idea that their offense based on offensive rebounds doesn't work against good teams: Bulls grabbed 38% of available offensive boards. Offensive rebounding isn't just hustle, it's a skill.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    Although a great win...Miami was not mentally in the game in the 1st half. They definitely relaxed. That said having Rose/Rip would make LeBron/Wade more tired and giving easier shots for Boozer/Deng and you can use Rip/Brewer to play defense on Wade.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Miami had some intensity early on, but it takes energy to keep highly focused. I think the Heat just figured they could turn it on later when they needed to - almost did at the end, too. But it was too little too late.

    A basketball fan can't help but appreciate these Bulls. A lot of different guys have stepped up this year, and we never know who it will be next. Fun to watch.

    Some bad calls went against the Bulls, too. At the end, tho, the call that should have gone against then was in their favor and iced the game.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    I think saying Miami weren't focused gives too little credit to both teams. They know what they're playing for, this game may well decide home court advantage in the ECF. Miami would have come to play.

  • How about John lucas playing PG and Rose SG ?

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Actually, the way Miami was trapping Lucas, Thibs should have had the genius ability to play Watson alongside Lucas.

  • Speechless . . . great win.

  • Boozer: You want me to trade me? Ok. Find a team willing to pay 7 million per point.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    Amare's uninsured contract is the only player I can think of that's even in the realm of the plausible without the Bulls throwing in incentives.

  • John Lucas goes all Mr. Rucker Park for us tonight, I think that he scored 60 in a game against KD this summer.

    Shane Battier has nothing left but to be the dirtiest player in the world, by the end of the ECF(assuming we get there)he may be the most despised person in Chicago.

    Pat Riley may not be coaching directly, but these guys play just like the 90's Knicks minus the outright thuggery which has been outlawed. They pretty much have 3 guys go edward scissorhands on every play and dare the refs to call it.

    Can you really win a championship with Deng playing like Casper the Ghastly ghost on offense except for the occasional 3 that clanks in.

    Has any team ever gotten less from $27 million in a big win

    The Mataboozer goes full metal pussy on us. He should be amnestied tonight, not this summer, not next summer. Is there even one moron left in the city of Chicago who wants to defend this guy, it is not just about a bad contract. If he had one tenth the heart that John Lucas has in is rectum he'd have put up more than 1-4, 2 points, any questions, anybody.

    With Wade and Lebron basically unstoppable, the key to beating the Heat is apparently the play of Chris Bosh. Much like game 1 of the playoffs(1-18, or something like that) he shot for shit tonight 3-15. Also, Haslem had little to no impact tonight, unlike the playoffs where he turned the series around by returning to the lineup. Can we really count on that as the only way to beat the Heat.

    Awesome win(emotionally), feels kind of lucky though, even unreal, sort of like the blowout in game one of the playoffs. Not likely to shoot 3's like that anytime soon or in the playoffs, certainly not on the road. But, we can enjoy it for a while, assuming we don't blow a flat Friday night.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I'm pretty sure you can't amnesty a player once the season starts, there's a deadline for it in the pre-season.If you want him off the team you're going to have to hope he has another gym bag incident.

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