Can Bulls repeat Friday with a better finish?

In the end, the Bulls slowed Dwyane Wade and LeBron James on Friday. They didn't give up a layup line or a ton of points inside the paint. They forced Norris Cole to beat them from the perimeter and Chris Bosh to knock down mid-range jumpers. Honestly, that's probably about as much as you can ask for.

It was enough for the gritty Bulls to hang around until the end of the game. It was enough for Chicago to be right there, but it wasn't enough to win.

That's the problem Chicago faces, even when more or less everything goes right, the Bulls are still probably 5-10 underdogs to the Heat. If things go wrong, we get a 40 point blow out.

The media has done a nice job of playing this series off like Chicago has a chance, discussing the little things they can do to try to win. Just get Carlos Boozer more involved! Nate Robinson needs to make better decisions! The biggest thing that would help Chicago is to get a more even whistle. That also seems like the least likely thing to happen.

LeBron James comically said he's not a flopper. The guy who faked getting punched to the face then winked at the camera after the refs bought the call said he's not a flopper. That's right LeBron, you've proven you're an inventor of contact and then even let the crowd in on the joke. That's FAR worse than merely flopping.

Nazr Mohammed has to be better than that though, you got inside LeBron's head, you got him making stupid physical plays like the time he drew a flagrant for just elbowing Carlos Boozer simply because he was pissed at Taj Gibson. LeBron was getting that pissed off and flustered again. At that point, Nazr had to know to just keep nudging LeBron, keep pushing him.

LeBron has one of the three most impressive physical packages I've ever seen on the basketball court (MJ, Shaq, and LeBron), but he's shown that you can get into his head. He's shown he can lose a whole series because you can get into his head. He's shown that once you get into his head that he might not close a game so well.

I won't say he's mentally soft, because when you're note in his head, he's a stone cold killer on the court. However, he can be flustered, and Chicago's one of those teams that's had success doing that to him.

For the Bulls, tonight is the same formula as the previous games. Go out there and play physical, play with hustle, play every possession like it's your last. Dive for every loose ball, sky for every rebound, maintain your defensive responsibilities, and try to swing the ball from side to side on offense to get an open look.

Down Rose, Hinrich, and Deng, this team has maybe 8th seed talent right now. If they played with this group all year, it's dicey whether or not they make the playoffs quite honestly. The talent gap is too large, and Chicago appears to be running on hatred alone.

These teams don't like each other. There's no pregame hugs, handshakes, and BSing. Like every other game of this series, the Bulls enter this one as massive underdogs. There's no magic secret for them to win. They need something to go unreasonably well and Miami to play poorly for that to happen (amazing three point shooting? massive rebounding edge?).

It all seems quite unlikely, but in order to see an amazing upset, you first need to risk watching a beat down, and tonight the beat down is more likely, but amazing is still sitting there in the corner as a possibility.

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  • Lets hope that Miami hasn't gotten into the Bulls head with Fridays loss. Lets hope that the Bulls heart and hate for the Heat can get them a win tonight cause IMO with Fridays loss and the Bulls losing home court advantage, the Bulls season is virtually over and their looking at losing 4 straight to the Heat again in a playoff series. A loss tonight and the series is really over and the Bulls heart and will just may be taken from them having to go back to Miami and trying to force a game 6 back in Chicago... GOOD LUCK WITH THAT BULLS. Oh and again try to keep your composure while keeping up the physical and someone has to be able to score at the end of games.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Bulls should know now what it will take to beat the Heat in the future and in a playoff series, healthy bodies, tough defense and rebounding and players that can score more efficiently. The team has the blueprint to beat the Heat, they now need a few more pieces to beat them. And for the Heat fans that happen to come on this blog, your team is beatable and be happy now cause your teams title run is very short lived.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I've got to hand it to you Reese, because replying to your own mind-numbingly obvious, cliche-filled comment is really taking it to another level.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Uh oh... I must have annoyed a homer fan in saying the Bulls are going to lose the series.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    The series was over before it began. The Bulls have no chance with the available players.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    That's true but the players that have been available have been playing their ass off to at least make it a competitive series. I never said they were going to win the series, I just hope they can at least make it a 6 or 7 game series.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    April 28th 2012

  • In reply to BigWay:

    DRose...Today is the anniversary...SMH

  • Hey Doug,
    I got a chuckle of your use of "sky" as a verb, as in "Sky for every rebound"... haven't heard that one in a long time!

    I really enjoy all of your work!

    I'd love to see the Bulls steal another game... tonight is the night!
    Go Bulls!

  • In reply to Swish14U:

    If they're going to steal one, tonight is definitely the night. They're not going to go into Miami down 1-3 and grab a game there IMO.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Great Article Doug!! I actually really liked the way the Bulls played last game. Have you noticed how Chicago media have been dissing the Bulls and the way they play. Jonathon Hood, Mike and Mike and an article I read in the Sun Times have all admonished the Thibs and the Bulls for calling out the Refs. I don't see how you can't call out the Refs for how lopsided its been. Miami is playing very physical/dirty too. For someone with the character and professional decorum of Thibs to call out the refs....ITS BAD. IMO, Thibs is the best coach in Chicago Sports and for the sports community to turn on us like this is really frustrating. Especially when most of their time is spent following the NFL Draft and the shit cubs at this point. Also, the more I listen to Jonathan Hood, the more I think he's an absolute clown who plays devils advocate just to make a name for himself. His views are totally warped and void of actual insight.

  • In reply to Villageworker2:

    I like trolling jhood (@tweetjhood) on twitter during his show. He's such a freakin drama queen. Last time was after game 1 - "Welcome to the Nate-Rob bandwagon hoodie. Standing room only". You guys should do it too. It's kind of a public service.

  • Imagine Dennis Rodman playing against LeBron! That would be epic. All his relentless needling and constant contact like he did to Karl Malone would make LeBron go ape shit. We need some of that.

  • In reply to Chad:

    Your right Rodman would be the ultimate foil for Lebron, unfortunately, the closest thing to Rodman on the court these days plays for the Heat, that would be Battier, the "gentelman" version of Rodman.

  • I believe it was Nazr's ejection combined with Noah's Technical for shoving GoonBird that caused the refs to favor Miami. Those plays made the Bulls look like thugs in the refs eyes.

    The refs (Joey Crawford) weren't going to tolerate any such behavior. As evidence look how quickly Joey Crawford T'd up LeBron.just before Nazr shoved him.

  • The bulls have to play smarter and quieter throughout the game, and better at the end.

    Despite loads of stupidity(mostly fouls) it was still only 85-83 with 4:14 to go, Miami scores 19 points in the final 4 minutes, that is a 57 point quarter.

    Got to do better on the role players and the 3 point line.

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    Need to play Gibson more. I read today that the Heat shoot 52% at the rim when Gibson plays and 73% at the rim when he's on the bench. The even more interesting stat is that the Bulls actually score 15 more points/100 possessions with Gibson on the court. I know Taj doesn't look 100% and he has actually looked pretty bad at times, but his defense is so much better than Boozer's.

    Also, Boozer needs to rebound the ball better. I mean, 15 rebounds through the first 3 games? C'mon, man.

  • In reply to Colin Spence:

    Agreed, let Boozer score his 1st half points. But I would close with Taj, because Bulls need STOPS, particularly the 4th quarter or last 6 minutes of the game when Miami can reach for their extra gear.

    I believe part of the Bulls fading last game was fatigue, while the Miami players were fresh. Hope the extra day of rest helped because our players are logging so many minutes

    GO BULLS!

  • In reply to Colin Spence:

    I agree with the playing Gibson more (in this series). I am not a Boozer hater and I think he has made much more of a contribution this yr to the the Bulls than he ever has. But the matchups dictate that we should play Gibson more in this series. Gibson has proven he can even guard LeBron for stretches and actually defended him quite well.

  • I like what Boozer's given the Bulls this season but I'll join the chorus calling for more Taj. He's getting much better position on offense and defense right now.

    Let's talk about Naz for a second. Putting Lebron on his ass was exactly the right move. I know this because all the extracurricular bs pushing and instigating after the whistle the second it happened. Naz is a vet, he knows his role. And he knows the Heat can't continue provoking the Bulls if there's a chance Lebron gets involved and gets tossed. So as soon as he did that Miami got real polite and both teams were back to playing basketball again.

    I hope we see Noah do his Hulk impersonation tonight. If he dominates we can even this up tonight.

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    Yeah that's what it's going to take, big games by either Taj or Boozer -- probably both -- and by Noah along with Nate for pure volume scoring. It's hard to count on all 4 of those guys having big nights and an off-night by anyone but Boozer could doom the Bulls.

  • Thanks for the great post, Doug and for the great season of posts. I think we are coming to teh end. Bulls have hung tough in there but all injured and ill, they simply can't hang with one of the most talented teams in a generation. I think the Heat win tonight and again in game 5, but I'll watch tonight to see if the Bulls can amaze me one last time.

  • Miami trying to deliver the knockout blow to the Bulls thus far. Bulls players look tired and beaten.

  • shit, I really expected the bulls to put up a fight this series, but it's not gonna happen... second blowout in 5 games. Good thing I haven't watched a single game of this series, I would have punched through my screen already. Fuck the heat...

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    thanks for ruining the nba playoffs for me for the third straight, I won't be watching the finals yet again.

  • All the minutes have caught up with them. Miami beating them to 50/50 balls, looking a step slow and can't drop a dime in the toilet. Only down twenty because their defense has held Miami to 76 points with 5 minutes to go. Thibs has ground this team down to the bone.. There is nothing left but dried up skin. Too Bad...

  • Not surprise the Bulls are playing tot he end with little they have....but he Heat look really bad.....the Pacers will knock them on their ass in the running game.

    I do not see the Heat repeating. Those legs of LBJ are getting slower each game......and Wade needs a cane to play.

  • Thibs said "we have more than enough to win." Problem was he didn't use what he had left. He left Rip on the bench until tonight. Maybe he could have have been a difference in game 3 if Thibs hadn't been such a hard ass. about Rip. While Rip didn't light it completely up, the residual effect may have produce more positives. Natezilla, Belli showed a lot of heart, but there is a reason why they are bench players. Rip is a 3-time All Star and an NBA Champion. And Thibs didn't call his number until tonight. Questionable on his part...

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Just before the game, on ESPN 1000 Radio, Michael Wilbon sharply criticized Thibs for poor minutes management, being hard-headed and stubborn, refusing to play Rip, and stating, "You cannot play guys 45 minutes and expect them to close against rested opponents. It won't work."

  • here's hoping the pacers goon it up like no team has before.

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