The Miami Heat defeated the Chicago Bulls 96-85 Sunday night winning Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Now up two games to one with another game coming at home on Tuesday the ball is very much in Miami’s court to take complete control of the series.
Most of the media has extolled Chris Bosh for his “dominant” performance in the game (34 points) I won’t go that far because he only chipped in five rebounds on the night and was being defended by Carlos Boozer (Bosh should’ve had far more points against Booz quite honestly). Headlines all over pronounce: The Big 3 Once More, or No Longer the 3rd Wheel¸ which is very nice for Bosh’s confidence…but honestly…LeBron played a better overall game (22 pts, 6 rebs, 10 assts, 2 blks), hell Boozer (if not for his terrible defense) outplayed Bosh (26 pts, 17 rebs, 2 blks). But I digress…
Remember Game 1 of this series? It seems so long ago now. The United Center was going wild as they watched three after three swoosh through the net, D-Rose carved up Miami’s starters, and the talented Bulls bench outplayed the Heat. Remember that? Miami doesn’t, and the Bulls need to forget.
If Games 2 and 3 have taught the casual NBA fan anything it’s that playoff basketball is the real deal. There aren’t any 156-155 final scores (anymore, think Dallas-Sacramento ten years ago), Jordan’s not coming out and dropping 63 (no player is able to in this day and age), coaches are too smart and defenses are too intricate to stick with the same game plan throughout a seven game series.
Miami got ran out of the area in Game 1, so what’d they do? They re-grouped, watched a lot of tape, and figured hey this Derrick Rose guy is their only real offensive option…maybe if we double him and force other guys to take contested shots we’ll win! Case in point: Derrick has a terrible Game 2 (7-23 21 pts.) and a pedestrian Game 3 (8-19 20 pts. only attempting two shots in the fourth quarter!).
The lack of a second scorer is something I touched on earlier in these playoffs. Luol Deng is a nice player but he can’t break his defender down one-on-one, and Boozer played great last night, but looking at the final score, the Heat will let him go off while they contain the outside shooting of Kyle Korver and Rose.
For all the praise this Bulls team has gotten throughout the season, this is it. Game 4 is the biggest game of their season, the biggest game of Derrick Rose’s career. If they’re going to trap and double him every time he touches the ball he needs to adjust, and Tom Thibodeau (Coach of the Year) needs to stop running the same plays that get D-Rose in trouble.
We saw it in the first round against the Pacers: the defense concentrated on stopping Rose and others had a hard time scoring one-on-one. Then we saw it against the Hawks: the team shot the ball poorly and gave the Hawks a couple games because of it. Now, against a truly great, athletic team, the Bulls have looked lost, confused, and downright bad on offense.
If the Bulls are going to be a serious contender for a NBA Championship with this squad they need to go out and win Game 4 in Miami. They did just enough to keep their heads above water through the first three quarters of Game 3, and in the fourth quarter the Heat’s superstars simply stepped on their heads.
Rose needs a huge game. Their defense needs to contain James and Wade, all the while not letting Bosh do whatever he wants (a’ la Game 3). Easier said then done (that’s why the Big 3 signed in Miami together, you can stop one, or maybe two, but never all three), but that’s the only way this series goes back to Chicago with the Bulls still standing.
Rose needs help, or Chicago’s done.
About the Author
Written by Frank Sullivan
Frank is a graduate of Old Dominion University, sports fan, author, and founder of TheBloosh.com. He's been working with prosportsblogging.com since April 2011, and has covered the Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Ravens, Virginia Tech Hokies Football, and the Washington Wizards. Frank can be reached @franksullivan on twitter.