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NBA Playoffs: Heat vs. Bulls Game 1 all about defense

May 15, 2011, 12:56 PM EDT

Chicago Bulls' Taj Gibson guards the Miami Heat's LeBron James during first quarter NBA basketball action in Miami Reuters

There will be spectacular plays because this series features three of the most dynamic players in the league. Derrick Rose will break somebody’s ankle with a crossover, LeBron James will destroy someone in the open court. Bank on it.

But highlights will not win this series. Defense will. That starts with Game 1 Sunday night (played Sunday not Monday because Oprah needs the building, and what Oprah wants in Chicago Oprah gets).

The Bulls have the deserved reputation on defense, they had the very best defense in the NBA this past season. But the Heat were fifth, and they are especially well equipped to handle Derrick Rose. As much as anyone is equipped to handle Rose.

Miami has said they will start with Mike Bibby on Rose. That should last about two possessions. Dwyane Wade will get a lot of time on him, spelled off the bench by Mario Chalmers. Plus, LeBron will be on him at times, too. All of them will be physical with Rose (especially if the referees let them play a little).

Look for the Heat to trap Rose as he comes off the pick-and-roll — that is Miami’s standard move and in this series they really want to get the ball out of Rose’s hands to make someone else beat them. Rose has been dealing with this better through the playoffs, but the Heat will be aggressive with their traps. And they have the athletes to do it.

At the other end Joakim Noah will be key because if Bosh gets going the Heat will be impossible to keep from scoring. Matt already covered this — whichever power forward gets going in this series will give his team a big boost.

But look for the Heat to keep Bosh out on the perimeter at times, then run some weak-side action to free guys up at the same time. Essentially, pull Noah away from the basket then have guys cutting to the basket for passes. Because Carlos Boozer does not fiercely defend the rim.

This brings us to one key for the Heat this series — they just played a series against this defense. The Boston Celtics still run the Tom Thibodeau defense he put in as an assistant. The Bulls system is the same and while they are running it better than Boston the Heat have seen this for the last five games. They have studied the film, they understand the actions. This is a big plus for Miami, there is no wheel to reinvent.

Look for the Heat to run a lot of baseline cuts from the weakside, something they had success with last series.

Noah is part of one other big key for the Bulls — they need easy second chance points off offensive rebounds.

Whichever team can get the more easy buckets in Game 1 and through the series will have an advantage. For the Heat, that means create turnovers and get Wade and James out in transition.

This is going to be a knock down, drag out series and this is just Game 1. But expect Game 1 to be a good one.

  1. thetooloftools - May 15, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    I’m LeBron James.
    I didn’t say anything stupid today but I’m posting to keep my name out there.

  2. bloggingainteazzy - May 15, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    Thetoolfools is wack

  3. chargerdillon - May 15, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    From day one of this season fans, media, and sportsbooks alike have all had the Heat winning it this year because of their massive overhaul.

    So let’s just be honest about this. The Heat havent managed to beat the Bulls all season long, and with the level of ease they destroyed Boston, if the Heat roll into game 1 and beat the Bulls, there wont be a person outside of Bulls fans in denial thinking that the Heat arnt going all the way.

    The last step in anybodys minds is getting past the Bulls, and with the less than impressive dispatching of their last two foes it makes me even wonder if they’re ready for a hungry heat team with more superstar talent.

    Here’s to hoping the Bulls choke so we can get back to hearing purdueman rip the Lakers for being the Lakers

  4. Chris Ross - May 15, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    I think if Joakim Noah can shut down Bosh the Heat are going to have some trouble because they need him to be more assertive on the offensive end. Kevin Garnett has given Bosh trouble his whole career, ever since he was in Toronto, and I think he has some mental issues with him. I know he went 1-18 in one matchup this year but I think Bosh against Noah is a more favourable matchup than Bosh vs. Garnett

  5. zammael - May 15, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    The problem will be the Bulls’ scoring. They need Kyle Korver out there to stretch the defense.

    But there’s no way in hell he can cover Wade, so the Bulls have no choice but to play Brewer and Bogans. That leaves Boozer to be a reliable second option. He MUST produce.

    • bigkurt6 - May 15, 2011 at 7:10 PM

      he does seem to be gettin healthier everyday

  6. torotrigger - May 15, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    Heat in 6, 5 if miami takes 2 in chicago. this series isnt even going to be a contest

    • bigkurt6 - May 15, 2011 at 7:11 PM

      good luck gettin 2 in the westside

  7. crab2323 - May 15, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    go HEAT

  8. coltsfanindc - May 15, 2011 at 4:14 PM

    hope you’re right toro. and can someone please block tooloftools from posting?

  9. gmsingh - May 15, 2011 at 6:50 PM

    Weird–the Heat have “seen” the same defense that the Bulls play in the Celtics series, but the more the Hawks saw that defense the worse they got. I think the Heat are in the same boat as the Hawks: they have very good shooters that can be confounded by the Bulls’ defense, and if the Bulls can play at the level they played at in game 6 of the Hawks series I think there will be a lot of pundits eating their words.

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