Derrick Rose will likely miss another Miami game. He's played in two of the three, but his health in the third meeting was poor enough that he was forced into a 1/13 performance which almost cost the team the game. The Bulls have effectively beaten Miami twice without Rose.
Given the above, you'd think I'd feel more confident that Chicago could do it or at least would have a chance. I don't. Maybe I'm just too pessimistic, but I don't see the Bulls winning this game without Rose or with a crippled banged up Rose. Maybe that's not fair to the rest of the guys who've proven they can play at a very high level even without Derrick, but I just can't see Miami allowing another loss. Not on their home floor.
-- update --
The game is more critical for Chicago than I thought. If they win this one, they'll wrap up home court in the Eastern Conference, and while they still control their own destiny if they lose, they'd need to win out if Miami wins out to get the #1 seed.
Need great play from Watson/Lucas
John Lucas carried the Bulls in the first win. C.J. Watson carried them in the second. One of them will need a great game for Chicago to beat Miami tonight. The Heat don't defend the PG position all that well and without Rose in the game, their biggest advantage is still at the PG position.
The one advantage that Watson/Lucas have over Rose is that both can shoot the three with far less daylight and far more accuracy than Derrick Rose can. They'll both take deeper threes and still knock them down as well. The Heat can't play a zone as effectively against this pair as they can against Rose, which should create openings for them to do their thing. They just need to shoot effectively with the shots they have.
Can Rip Hamilton continue rolling?
I think this is perhaps the most interesting question of the game. Hamilton has played in two of the three Heat games and played very poorly in both. The first time, in Miami, he said he was basically playing on one leg and missed a month of action immediately following the game to prove it.
The second time around he shot three of six for seven points, but had three turnovers and generally looked terrible out there. However, it was his fifth game back from injury, and he'd only had one nice game prior to that. He's since looked much better in the past three games.
So is Rip Hamilton capable of playing well against Miami or can Miami defend him too easily? If Rip can play at the level he has the past few games against the Heat then my confidence of beating them in a series will soar. If he has another dud game, and he's really just a guy who crushes bad defenses, then my confidence may wane.
Can the frontcourt dominate?
With Rose out, the Bulls will need plenty of quality play from the big four up front. They'll be placed in difficult positions defensively, they'll need to dominate the glass, and Chicago will need more scoring inside the paint than against most opponents.
Will the front court be up to the task? It will be a challenge.
Stop the transition game
The way to beat Miami is to not turn the ball over and force them into the half court all night long. They'll get their fair share of tough makes in the half court as well as their share of blow by dunks, but they dominate the crap out of you if you let them run up and down in transition.
Hard to see a victory
The game means more to Miami than Chicago and is in Miami. This is gut check time for the Heat. If they can't beat the Rose-less Bulls at home then they're in all kinds of trouble as a team. I think Miami has to come out and prove itself tonight, and I think they will. Not only do I think Miami wins, but I think they win big.
Hopefully the Bulls can piece together enough to make it a challenge or pull off the upset, but this is probably about as poor odds as the Bulls will face all season in any given game.
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