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Preview: Bulls defense solving Heat bigger issues than referees

May 13, 2013, 1:20 PM EDT

Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls - Game Three Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls have much, much bigger issues right now than the referees.

You couldn’t tell that from the talk around Chicago or even at times from coach Tom Thibodeau. It’s about the foul calls, it’s about LeBron James the flopper. For the coach and his $35,000 rant, that was simply him trying to influence the officials going forward — the Bulls know they need to be physical and aggressive to win Game 4 to even this series. They want the latitude to do that.

We like the intensity because these teams really don’t like each other. This feels like a playoff rivalry, like we want the playoffs to feel. For some fans that can go a little far. Conspiracies are great ways to explain away what we don’t want to accept — that one man with rifle in a book depository window can kill a president, that weather balloons landed at Area 51…

And that the Bulls defense hasn’t been good enough this series to slow LeBron and friends.

That is the key in this series — Miami shot 60 percent in Game 2 and 50 percent in Game 3. On the season the Bulls allowed opponents to shoot 44.3 percent, ninth best in the NBA. Or, look at it this way: During the season the Bulls allowed opponents just 100.3 points per 100 possessions (fifth in the NBA), the last two games the Heat have scored 125.3 and 120 points per 100. Miami adjusted to the physicality after Game 1.

Part of that comes back around to why Thibodeau is lobbying referees — the Heat have had a parade to the foul line the last two games. The Bulls want to be physical but without the fouls. (Although part of this is the Bulls new trend of taking the “Euro foul” — fouling a guy at midcourt to stop a fast break opportunity. Chicago has gone to that and it ups their foul count.)

Bottom line heading into Game 4 is the Bulls defense isn’t getting it done — they forced the Heat into more jumpers in Game 3 but Miami hit them. Chicago doesn’t have the offensive weapons left to compensate for that.

Miami comes into Game 4 with the goal of getting points closer to the basket again — starting their sets earlier in the clock and attacking the paint off the dribble. Look for the Heat to try and post up Dwyane Wade, who has struggled a little this series. The Bulls defense has thrown the Heat’s spacing off at times, just not enough.

Chicago needs to get Nate Robinson more space (27 points in Game 1, 28 points the next two games). They need a huge night out of Joakim Noah. And Jimmy Butler. They will not have Luol Deng or Kirk Hinrich. Or Derrick Rose.

And they need to get back to the physical defense that can win them games in this series. Not the over-the-top pushes of Noah on Chris Andersen or Nazr Mohammed on LeBron. They have to stay within the play and make it happen.

  1. southbeachtalent - May 13, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    Monday Night RAW!! I wonder if we’ll see a flying elbow?? Or a DDT?

  2. 1972wasalongtimeago - May 13, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    They want to foul without being called for fouls? What a great idea! Hey Spo, why didn’t you think of that?

  3. hehateme2 - May 13, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    The Bulls are just pretenders. They only have the rough and tumble approach as they lack the “talent” to keep up with the HEAT.
    It’s getting old and tired with their whining and crying. They’re just not good enough period. Expect this to be over soon.

    • biasedhomer - May 13, 2013 at 3:34 PM

      Im guessing you don’t know how injured the Bulls are since you just realized they lack the talent.

      • cmehustle - May 13, 2013 at 3:40 PM

        I believe he meant with the injuries they lack the talent. No one believes a healthy Bulls roster lacks talent.

  4. glink123 - May 13, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    KH is right. The Bulls defense hasn’t been good enough. Considering their top two defenders are Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich, and both players will miss this entire series, it’s pretty remarkable the Bulls a) took Game 1 in Miami, and 2) had a tie game at the start of the 4th quarter in Game 3. Don’t even mention the fact that their starting PG (Rose) and their starting SG (Hamilton) also won’t play a single minute in this series. Thibs was 12 minutes away from a 2-1 series lead over Miami’s trio of James, Bosh, and Wade, using a roster of (literally) end-of-the-bench journeymen playing on 1 or 2-year league-minimum contracts (Robinson, Mohammed, Bellineli, Cook, Teague), and Noah. The Heat should be embarrassed that EVERY game in this series wasn’t like Game 2. LeBron James. Dewayne Wade. Chris Bosh. Ray Allen. and you were literally 12 minutes away from trailing 2-1.

    • jimmymarlinsfan - May 13, 2013 at 7:45 PM

      Big explanation for someone who clearly doesn’t watch much NBA basketball. Not every game is a blowout. Try harder to excuse the Chicago Bovines

  5. pantsfreezone - May 13, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    The Bulls five stages of foulism:

    They start out slap happy, then they become incredulous, then they grow angry, then they start to cry, and finally they accept defeat.

  6. iowahbr - May 13, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    This got cut once but still true. Argue the facts first and then the law if you don’t have the facts; if you’ve got neither just raise the level of your voice. Thibs talking some old law school baloney and applying same to the NBA. Good approach but still won’t get them a win tonight and I’m a Bulls fan hoping I’m wrong. A close game until the 4th quarter and then the Heat pulls away again.

  7. 91devinhester23 - May 13, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    im a heat fan and lol i didnt see a giant difference between foul calls for the two teams the bulls just suck go heat lebron you the best

  8. airjunior23 - May 13, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    Lebron James is a flopper…..he throws his arms up and flails on layups where people barely touch him and he complains to the refs all game. Why cant others? LBJ has great defense but he fouls a ton and the other guy (usually the less famous – worthless in comparison guy) can say nothing because if he protests he will get a T. Obviously the heat are able to do what they want to the other team, because the “goodguys” are rarely demonized. It’s just the truth…every superstar got the treatment…LBJ acts just like Kobe, but people hate kobe, so one cares. Take nothing away…lbj is a great player and def mvp, but watch the game from the other perspective…you will see the difference. Great player, unfair treatment….and please dont hit me with the old “he’s earned it” defense…it makes no sense like chewbaca the 8 foot wookie

  9. gmsingh - May 13, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    Kurt, this post was garbage. Unless you can step up to the plate and explain why all the announcers keep saying that fouls aren’t being called on the Bulls, expect to be dismissed as a shill.

    • Kurt Helin - May 13, 2013 at 5:29 PM

      Confirmation bias. Either you are listening to the Bulls broadcast or you don’t hear the national announcers saying both teams are being physical and fouls aren’t being called.

      That fact will not change what you think of me. I hope I can still sleep tonight.

      • jimmymarlinsfan - May 13, 2013 at 5:43 PM

        Kurt the troll spanker Helin. Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

      • gmsingh - May 13, 2013 at 6:52 PM

        Denial, that figures. Do you recall Steve Kerr saying “Taj has every right to be angry?”. Hell Van Gundy even talked about a bogus call against Butler during a Knicks game. Hey I already gave you four valid points on the subject. Let me know if you have the stones to discuss the facts.

      • jimmymarlinsfan - May 13, 2013 at 7:47 PM

        Hold on, wait. The same Steve Kerr who once played for the Bulls? Nah. I don’t think he would be biased at all

  10. iowahbr - May 13, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    The Bulls defense has been lousy because they are working so hard for each offensive point. Bulls are getting no easy points. How many shots with less than 5 second to go on the play clock? Good d often brings easy points but the Bulls have been getting very few while the Heat seem to be close to their normal rythm.

  11. steelerfanforlife - May 13, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    How bout just putting up non biased posts for a change Kurt.and then you won’t have to worry what people think of you. I sure hope you do sleep tonight but won’t Lebron be in Chicago? Who gonna keep the other side of your bed warm?

    • Kurt Helin - May 13, 2013 at 7:08 PM

      My wife. Like every night.

      • jimmymarlinsfan - May 13, 2013 at 7:48 PM

        Please answer commenters more often. It’s sheer awesomeness is almost beyond reason

  12. iowahbr - May 13, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    The best thing about tonight’s Bulls Heat game is that I was able to catch almost all of Top Gear without missing anything during the game.

  13. jimmymarlinsfan - May 13, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    Hold on. Wait a minute. Did someone forget to tell the Bulls there was a game tonight?

  14. jjones314 - May 14, 2013 at 1:07 AM

    Great game Bulls. Keep losing. This series will be over shortly.


    Yeaaaa LBJ is a flopper…ooooook. Bottom line did the Heat win or not? If they won, then shut the f up and eat a d*ck.

    Tired of the constant excuses and discussion about flops. If that’s the case we all know the best flopper this yr and possibly ever is James Harden aka the running beard.

    When the Heat win people have to justify it by blaming it on flops or the refs or whatever excuse you can think of. And they ignore everything else.

    No excuses. A loss is a loss. Period

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