Bulls set for 'big' Game 4

There wasn’t much groundbreaking news to come from the Bulls on Tuesday
as they prep for a must-win Game 4 versus the Miami Heat at
AmericanAirlines Arena.
A few things of note, however: Derrick Rose admits he must be more aggressive in Game 4 for the Bulls, Omer Asik missed shootaround and is a game-time decision and Joakim Noah, and the rest of the Bulls, hope that the off-the-court — literally — issues aren’t a concern. Noah, of course, was caught by TNT cameras saying a gay slur to an intoxicated fan.

Asik’s dealing with a strained muscle in his left leg, an injury he suffered in the third quarter of Game 3. If he’s unable to go in Game 4, expect plenty of Kurt Thomas, though Asik should be able to gut it out. If he does play, still expect to see Thomas’ series debut on Tuesday. He’ll effectively space the floor and give the Bulls a viable pick-and-pop, pick-and-roll option with Derrick Rose.

The major — on an off day, that is — news comes from Rose, who acknowledged his underwhelming play in the past two games. Most of that, however, stems from a lack of aggression. He attempted just two field-goals in the fourth quarter of the Bulls’ 96-85 Game 3 loss, and he’s scored just four points in the fourth quarters of Games 2 and 3. Not the type of output you expect from the league’s Most Valuable Player.

“That’s not me,” Rose said to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. “I’m thinking too much, trying to get the
ball out of my hands so that my teammates can make plays. … I have to
change my mindset right now. Usually when I come out, I see how the
defense is playing me. They’ve been double-teaming me the whole time,
especially in pick-and-roll. The big (man) stays up until I get the
ball out of my hands.”

DRose--Game 3.jpg
If the Bulls are going to win Game 4 — a must-win, considering they’d be in a 3-1 deficit heading into Game 5 in Chicago with a loss — they’ll need Rose to play up to the MVP award. The Heat’s playing the best defense we’ve seen on Rose, who’s averaging a playoffs series-low 23 points versus the Heat on 39 percent shooting, however, he’s right: Instead of taking the double-team and attacking it. There’s no way Mike Bibby can take Rose, who passed out of double-teams in Games 2 and 3, which forced his teammates to make plays.

We saw how that went, as the Bulls scored an average of 80 points on 38 and a half percent shooting in the past two games.

How about another 44 points on 16 of 27 shooting like in Game 3 versus the Atlanta Hawks in the semifinals, Derrick?

Or something close to that, because that’s what it will take.

But Rose will need help. He can’t expect to do it on his own. Kyle Korver (3-for-12 in the series), Keith Bogans (3-for-10 on three’s in the series) and Ronnie Brewer (a bit better than the other two, at 7-for-15 in the series) will have to consistently knock down their shots. The Heat’s been able to load up the paint due to their inconsistencies, especially from Korver, who’s four of 11 from three in the past five games.

The Bulls are dealing with some off-the-court issues, too, although very minor. But with Tom Thibodeau at the helm, it shouldn’t effect the Bulls, who haven’t lost three games in a row all season.

“That’s been the whole year — he always wants us to stay focused on our
job and our job is to come in here and try to get better every day,”
Rose said. “Off-court distractions, I know I couldn’t care less about
what’s going on, especially now when we’re down in the series. Our
biggest deal is to come out here and play hard tonight.”

Said Noah: “It’s the biggest game of the year.”

As the late Norm Van Lier use to say, let’s see 48 minutes of intensity

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