Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals seems like a distant memory for the Chicago Bulls as the team is now on the brink of elimination, down 3-1 in their seven game series against the Miami Heat.
After storming out of the gate in the opening game with a 103-82 victory, the Bulls have put themselves in a deep hole by playing flat and making too many costly mistakes. Everything that has gone wrong for the Bulls in this series such as the inconsistent offense, the turnovers, the inability to stop Chris Bosh in Game 3 and LeBron James in Game 4 can all be broken down and analyzed but the unfortunate truth is that the Miami Heat are a better basketball team.
The Miami defense is as talented as they come. The league’s Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose was shut down late in Game 4 by James’ defense. When Rose isn’t able to do the things that he’s done all year, the Bulls have little chance against a team like the Heat.
“It’s extremely hard,” Rose said after Tuesday night’s loss, “when a 6-8 guy can easily defend you.”
The thing that is truly scary, and an indication that the Bulls are completely unraveling, is that Carlos Boozer has scored 20 plus points in Game 3 & 4 and the Bulls are still losing basketball games. Boozer has been up and down all throughout the playoffs, and in this series, but if he’s scoring 20 or more points a game then the Bulls should have a good chance of winning. Even Luol Deng scored 20 points in Game 4.
Other than being completely outmatched by Miami’s “big three” of James, Bosh and Dwyane Wade, what’s the problem? Mainly, it’s because the Bulls aren’t getting what they need from their “Bench Mob”. Going into the conference finals, the Bulls were labeled as having a much deeper bench than Miami. Guys like Ronnie Brewer, Taj Gibson, C.J. Watson and especially Kyle Korver haven’t made enough of an impact to help put the team in a better position to win.
In fact, Miami’s short bench has come through in the clutch by getting key contributions from Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller.
Bulls’ Head Coach Tom Thibodeau needs to make adjustments in Game 5, there’s nothing to lose at this point. Keep Korver off the floor as long as possible, he’s clearly a liability right now with his failure to find his shot so it would be nice to see Rasual Butler get some of Korver’s minutes. Thibodeau has no choice but to give Kurt Thomas minutes as well since Omer Asik is out for the remainder of the playoffs with a broken left fibula.
The only thing that the Bulls can do now is take it one game at a time and essentially overachieve to come back and win this series.
“We have a group of guys that are going to keep on fighting,” Deng said on Wednesday. “There’s no quit in us. It’s going to come down to the end of the game again. You’re going to get knocked down. You have to keep on fighting. At the end, it’s who’s still standing. You could make a case that we’re on our way down. But we’re not laying down yet.”
Win or go home…