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NBA Playoffs: Can Heat rebound — literally — against Bulls?

May 18, 2011, 3:27 PM EDT

Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls - Game One Getty Images

These are two very good defensive teams. They will contest virtually every shot, jump passing angles and not let players get to the spots they want on the floor.

In Game 1, the Bulls responded to that challenge by going to their strength in this series and crashing the offensive glass ferociously. The result was 19 offensive rebounds and a 1-0 series lead.

The Heat responded with isolation basketball and very little of the transition play that is their strength in this series. Those two things — and the rebounding — are what needs to change if the Heat are going back to Miami with an even series. (And while this is not must win, going ahead having to win four of five from Chicago is daunting.)

What about that rebounding? For one thing, the Heat have to rotate better, to help the helper on defense, and that second rotation has to box out. That didn’t happen in Game 1. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra may go with more size inside — maybe Zydrunas Ilgauskas, maybe more Jamal Magloire — but really it has to come from the core guys on the court. Specifically, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, to good rebounders for their position.

This is going to hurt somewhat with Miami’s stated goal of wanting to run more, but you can’t run without the rebound and the Heat were not getting them. It’s all about priorities.

LeBron and Wade are going to have to step up in the halfcourt, but not with isolation heroball as they did last game. The Bulls defense destroys isolation plays, even from the best isolation players. What the Heat did well against the Celtic — which runs the same Tom Thibodeau overload defense — was have Wade and James work well off the ball on the weakside, then had quick ball movement. The Bulls run the defense better, they are more aggressive. Luol Deng is a good defender and he is glued to James.

Miami needs to get into its sets earlier in the clock, then Wade and LeBron need to be more decisive and aggressive when coming off picks and driving. Their hesitancy (due to good pressure defense) cost the team looks. They have to attack.

The Bulls offense got fantastic outside shooting last game and that may not return. That comes and goes. But the Bulls had one second half turnover and if they can do that again it would be a huge advantage. Again, it’s about keeping the Heat out of transition situations. Chicago must control the tempo, turnovers and offensive boards are the key to that.

Chicago may get more out of Derrick Rose, but the key in every game this series will be somebody (or somebodies) stepping up and adding points. There has to be balance. The Heat will figure out how to slow Rose down, they have the athletes, but to do that will leave someone else open and the Bulls need to make them pay.

Game 2 is going to be closer than Game 1 in the end. The Heat seemed a little taken aback by the Bulls defense in the opener, but they will be more ready Thursday. And that should help this series start to live up to the hype.

  1. purdueman - May 18, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    The (IMO insurmountable), matchup problem that the Heats have with the Bulls is the Bulls depth at the bigs. The Bulls second team features PF Taj Gibson and big defensive center Omar Asik, both of whom would be starting for the Heat.

    The one thing that the Heat has a big advantage in though is playoff experience, but I don’t see that being a factor until the Bulls go on the road to Miami.

    The other problem the Heat have in matching up with the Bulls is the Bulls youth (i.e., young legs). Did all of you see how totally gassed D-Wade was at only the end of the 3rd quarter last Sunday night? Heat basketball is all about rotating the rock for isolation shotst… La Bum and D-Wade both get two turns and Bosh typically one, and that simply won’t work against this Bulls team defensive squad.

  2. silk32 - May 18, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    SPRUNG! After his “encounter” with Taj Gibson, Dwyane Wade spotted wearing a Bulls jersey … The technical term for identifying with your victimizer is “Stockholm Syndrome”, but my grandma would call it “Sprung like a screen door!”

  3. goforthanddie - May 18, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    Funny how even sports writers have written off Bosh. What a waste.

    • southbeachtalent - May 18, 2011 at 3:59 PM

      How is he a waste:

      2011 Stats

      Bosh 18.7 PPG, 8.3 RB .49 FG%
      Boozer 17.5 PPG, 9.6 RB .51 FG%

      Sooo Boozer is a waste as well I guess?

      Don’t hate the playa hate the game.

      • savvybynature - May 18, 2011 at 5:07 PM

        Wow. I didn’t realize Boozer outplayed Bosh this season. And that is with two torn ligaments next to his big toe.

        Thanks for the stats. I really wouldn’t have guessed that Boozer > Bosh but you convinced me.

      • goforthanddie - May 18, 2011 at 5:49 PM

        Bosh is the highest paid person on the team, yes? Do his numbers reflect that? Is Bosh bringing in the fans? Would his contract money have been better spent on a halfway decent PG and/or C and maybe some depth?
        Hell, LeBitch and Wade don’t even refer to him, no wonder the media doesn’t.

  4. southbeachtalent - May 18, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    It wont be easy but I do expect them to win this one. LeBron and Wade wont have another off night and the Bulls are not going to get a second shot opportunity 41% of the time. I know some of you Bulls fans are going to tell me they’ve been out rebounding everyone (which is completely true) but they have never, atleast this season, had that many second shot opportunities. Regardless, this series should be great!

  5. silk32 - May 18, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    The Heat has done a terrible job of managing expectations. They’re not built to win the title this year. They are one low post presence away from winning a title. Getting to the Eastern Conference Finals is a good year for “this team” but they, and the media, have place a yolk around their neck where if they don’t win it all their season was a bust.

  6. mannyfresh209 - May 18, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    Boozer has not outplayed Bosh lol. Bosh is the 3rd option on Miami, putting up very similar numbers to Chicago’s 2nd option.

  7. andrejohnsonforpresident - May 18, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    I have heard that boozer is the 3rd option behind dueng. Its safe to argue hes the 3rd option behind derrick rose plan A and derrick rose plan B. Either way comparing boozer to bosh is dumb. They were not brought in for the same reason. Boozer was brought in to be a team player anyone who thought he would be a star player avg 25+ points a game was crazy to think that. Bosh is part of the big 3 he needs to be a big force thats why the money was split between the 3 of them. Bosh is not a big 3 player! Dumping his contract for quality depth would be an amazing idea and everyone knows it. Now the heat will be stuck trying to sign players who want to play for cheap for a guranted shot at the title every year and chances are it might not work. Lebron and d-wade don’t even treat bosh like part of the big 3 now and anyone with common sense can see that. Who knows though if they can somehow get past the bulls it’ll probably turn out like my comment on trhis article. No one will care

  8. chicagofan - May 18, 2011 at 7:21 PM

    The Heat are in deep trouble. The Bulls’ bench is much better and playing cohesively on defense and offense. Dwade and Lebron will have to rest at some point and the Bulls will be able to press their advantage. We will see if Spolestra deserves this coaching job tonite, can he make the neccesary adjustments to overcome the Bulls’ advantages? They will not be able to outrebound the Bulls’ second unit and the Heats only hope is that the Bulls’ 3 point shooting is off tonite. If they let the Bulls score 10 x 3pointers tonight, the Heat will be on summer vacation by early next week.

  9. dirtybird2020 - May 18, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    Same player 30 mill less lol, good luck dumping a contract of 110 mill for a player who gets 18 and 9 a hame, noone wants garbage!

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