Skip to content

PBT NBA Playoff Preview: Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat

May 6, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

Miami Heat's James drives against Chicago Bulls' Deng in first half NBA game in Miami

SEASON RECORDS

Chicago: 45-37, five seed in the East

Miami: 66-16, one seed in the East, best record in the NBA

PLAYOFF RECORDS

Chicago: Beat the Brooklyn Nets 4-3

Miami: Swept the Milwaukee Bucks 4-0

SEASON SERIES

The teams split the four meetings with two wins apiece. The Bulls snapped the Heat’s 27-game winning streak on March 27.

KEY INJURIES

The Bulls are likely to be without Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng at least to start the series, just as they were for their Game 7 win in Brooklyn over the Nets. There is no change to the status of Derrick Rose, who is expected to continue to be out for the rest of the playoffs.

Dwyane Wade missed Game 4 against the Bucks with a sore knee, but will have had eight days to rest by the time Game 1 against the Bulls tips off on Monday. He’s expected back.

OFFENSE/DEFENSE RANKINGS (points per 100 possession) – PLAYOFFS ONLY

Chicago: Offense 102.3 (9th in the postseason), Defense 104.9 (Tied-10th in the postseason)

Miami: Offense 108.6 (4th in the postseason), Defense 91.5 (3rd in the postseason)

THREE KEYS TO THE SERIES:

Rest or rust for Miami? The Heat have been so dominant in winning 41 of their last 43 games that sadly, it’s come to worrying about whether or not an eight-day layoff between the first and second round of the playoffs should be cause for concern. It isn’t. If Miami shows any signs at all of being out of sync, it won’t last beyond the first quarter of Game 1. The Bulls would be wise to maximize that opportunity to the fullest should it actually present itself.

For the Bulls, it’s all about defense: In order for the Bulls to have a shot in this series, they’ll need to contain LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, while still managing to get out and contest Miami’s three-point shooters. (Oh, is that all?) It starts with scoring enough so that Miami is taking the ball out of the net instead of off the glass, where the Heat can be as dangerous as any team in the league if they’re able to get out in transition. Even containing Miami’s scoring on the secondary break can be a problem for defenses to stop, so finding that balance between crashing for offensive rebounds and getting back to limit fast break opportunities will be critical for the Bulls, who will have the best chance to slow the Heat while defending them in traditional halfcourt sets.

Miami was second in the league during the regular season in three-point shooting percentage (trailing only the Golden State Warriors), and was sixth in the league in attempting more than 22 shots per game from beyond the arc. A lot of that comes from drive-and-kick actions from James and Wade, so playing team defense on the slashers with the interior players while staying at home on the shooters (or at least making sure to close out on them with purpose) is going to be another area of concentration defensively for the Bulls.

For the Heat, it’s all about intensity: The Bulls play extremely hard, all night,  every night, no matter who is or is not in their lineup. The intensity with which Chicago approaches every single possession is the reason that despite the multitude of injuries the team has dealt with this season, it was still able to win a Game 7 on the road to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

The injuries to Deng and Hinrich that will likely keep them out for the first game or two of this series will hurt the Bulls overall, but it won’t hurt what they do offensively. Much like the Spurs, the Bulls are a system team that doesn’t rely too heavily on one or two players to carry the bulk of the scoring load on a nightly basis. If Nate Robinson, for example, isn’t forcing the issue and is converting at a relatively acceptable percentage, then Tom Thibodeau will ride him as long as possible. If not, he has no problem going elsewhere to get the desired results.

Miami is far and away the better team in this series. The only thing that can even the playing field for Chicago is if the Heat decide to cruise for extended stretches, and let the Bulls gain confidence while they’re still expending maximum energy.

OUTLOOK

The injuries to Deng and Hinrich are a much bigger deal in this series than they turned out to be for the Bulls against the Nets. Hinrich is excellent defensively, and Deng can legitimately impact the game on both ends of the floor. Without those two, there is much less room for error for the Bulls, especially opening on the road against the defending champs.

Expect Miami to impose its will early in this series to crush any hope the Bulls might have of stealing a game or two to try to make it interesting. Chicago will continue to play hard, but the team isn’t likely to have enough to beat the Heat more than once, and even that seems like a bit of a stretch.

PREDICTION

Heat to sweep in four games.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Sacramento consultant Chris Mullin to take St. John’s head coaching job

    Mar 30, 2015, 6:14 PM EDT

    Chris Mullin AP

    There were rumors he wanted the Sacramento GM job, but George Karl has the power there now.

  2. PBT’s NBA Power Rankings: Cream rising to top as playoffs near

    Mar 30, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Marco Belinelli, Manu Ginobili Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Marco Belinelli, Manu Ginobili

    The top three are Golden State, Cleveland and San Antonio. Would you be shocked if any of them won the title?

  3. Knicks are bad everywhere, fire D-League coach

    Mar 30, 2015, 1:27 PM EDT

    Foot Locker Three-Point Contest Getty Images

    Phil Jackson disciple Craig Hodges now coaching Westchester Knicks

  4. Michael Jordan played first Bulls "home" game at a high school (video)

    Mar 30, 2015, 12:49 PM EDT

    Michael Jordan, Dean Smith Michael Jordan, Dean Smith

    Jordan made preseason debut at Washington High School, but at one point, it seemed Washington High alum Junior Bridgeman would be the big draw

  5. Russell Westbrook dunks on teammate Enes Kanter

    Mar 30, 2015, 12:11 PM EDT

    Russell Westbtook, Enes Kanter Russell Westbtook, Enes Kanter

    D.J. Augustin throws the alley-oop, and two Thunder players go for it. Westbrook won.

  6. Texas’ Myles Turner, a likely lottery pick, declares for NBA draft with YouTube video

    Mar 30, 2015, 11:33 AM EDT

    Texas v Butler Getty Images

    Good decision to go pro, poor decision to end video how he did

  7. Blake Griffin makes 180 block (video)

    Mar 30, 2015, 10:22 AM EDT

    Blake Griffin, Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder Blake Griffin, Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder

    Jonas Jerebko thought his pump fake worked, but…

  8. Report: Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter declaring for NBA draft

    Mar 30, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT

    R.J. Hunter R.J. Hunter

    Hunter hit biggest shot of NCAA tournament, backed it up with strong junior season

  9. Report: Kings advisor Chris Mullin expected to become St. John’s coach

    Mar 30, 2015, 9:08 AM EDT

    New York Knicks v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    Mullin has played prominent role in Vivek Ranadivé’s organization

Featured video

Where does Steve Nash rank all-time?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (6371)
  2. K. Lowry (6278)
  3. K. Martin (6163)
  4. H. Whiteside (6160)
  5. G. Monroe (5798)
  1. R. Rubio (5597)
  2. B. Knight (5564)
  3. D. Rose (5542)
  4. P. George (5365)
  5. L. Aldridge (5292)