Why the Bulls can beat the Heat
by Andrew Kennedy
I know, Game 1 already happened and it’s much easier to write how Chicago can beat Miami after they already captured the first game and are in great position to do so. But there are still many doubters and still many who think that Miami should have no problem coming back. Like they were just hung over from Boston and didn’t show up and that’s okay because they’ll turn the switch and start playing hard all of a sudden (my main issue with watching this team all year).
First off, Chicago is better than Boston this year. There’s a reason they finished the regular season strong and with the best record in the NBA while Boston stumbled to the finish line. Both teams are built similarly and have similar philosophies. People seemed to assume Boston may have been better because of their history the past three seasons, how they handled Miami earlier in the regular season, and their track record of going to another level once the playoffs started.
Well, Boston looked and played old in the second around against the Heat. A lot of people then got to thinking that since Miami and LeBron got past Boston, a team that seemed like a huge hurdle, that they were now destined for a title. The team actually seemed to think this too with their celebrating after the Game 5 win and noticeable lack of effort and urgency in Game 1 at Chicago.
The Bulls have not lost to Miami this year and there is good reason for this. They are a tough matchup for them with their size down low, superior bench play and the fact that Miami can’t completely shut down Derrick Rose. I think a lot of times when teams lose to a team a lot in the regular season, we expect the losing team to be the one that makes adjustments and thus can have an advantage once the playoffs start and the game is more slowed down and defensively oriented. But when you have good coaching like the Bulls do, you can also adjust some even if you won all three of the regular season meetings.
Chicago didn’t have to change much in Game 1 but it did look like they were ready for what Miami was going to throw at them especially on defense. They knew that Miami was essentially going to bring two guys at Rose when the Bulls went pick-and-roll. This caused some problems for the Bulls in the regular season but they and Rose seemed ready for it and their patience paid off.
Throughout the game Rose dribbled back and passed off when the double came. After that pass Miami had to recover defensively, something they didn’t have too much trouble doing when they played the Celtics, partly because Boston was older and not quick enough I think. But Chicago burned Miami on their second and third options of plays, making great interior passes and owning the offensive glass with 19 boards. If you’re a Heat fan you simply watch Game 1 and feel like your team didn’t play their best and you can still comeback in the series. While this is somewhat true, it also has to be noted that where Chicago succeeded, they can keep succeeding especially if Miami doesn’t change something.
I feel like with regards to guarding the pick-and-roll with Rose, they won’t really be able to change anything. They are going to have to throw two guys at Rose unless they’re willing to let Rose go off and slice through their defense at will which isn’t a good thing either and can also lead to plenty of offensive rebounds. So basically if Chicago stays cool, makes good decisions and doesn’t have stupid turnovers, and keeps up their intensity they should have a good time keeping up this offensive success throughout the series.
On the other end Miami had a tough time scoring as well. I guess they expected this when LeBron said every game would be in the 80’s in this series. But they got a strong showing from Chris Bosh and I wouldn’t bet on that trending the rest of the series and the Heat have to feel pretty bad about wasting Bosh’s game. With LeBron and Wade, they both didn’t shoot well and maybe didn’t get some calls that they will at home but Chicago simply has the best defense in the league and proves that there is a way to slow down and just about shut down those two.
Everyone acted like it was so great Miami beating down Boston with James and Wade playing so well but how did we expect Boston to match up with them when Kevin Garnett was eventually the last line of defense with no help? Garnett couldn’t have handled something like that in his prime. Chicago doesn’t have this problem. They’re younger, have more depth inside and have the second best center in the league in my opinion in Joakim Noah. The Bulls are essentially a better version of the Celtics. They have just looked young in these playoffs so we started to write them off after Miami began to look so good.
Fact of the matter is, they are a bad match up for Miami, can basically defend them well enough to win, and are good enough on offense with Rose they can definitely win this series and have to be favored after Game 1. The Bulls have homecourt too. You think that didn’t play a large role in helping Miami last round? When you have a terrible bench, they need to be at home to survive and play well, you can’t count on anything from them on the road. The Heat have one less home game this series and it might cost them, especially if they end up going down 0-2.
While it’s easy to say that Miami didn’t play well and were on the road and they can come back and still win the series, I don’t see how you can bet on that after what we saw in Game 1. LeBron and Wade have the potential to go off in any given game and carry the team but it’s easier to do that against a worse defensive team like Boston and harder when you’re playing the Bulls. I got my money on the Bulls from now on, as long as they stay confident and don’t take it personal when Wade and James hit crazy shots, they win this series in six.