Skip to content

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Jeff Green donates $1 million to Georgetown athletic department

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:24 AM EDT

    NCAA East Regional Final - Georgetown v UNC NCAA East Regional Final - Georgetown v UNC

    Celtics forward contributes money toward construction of building named for John Thompson Jr.

  2. Ty Lawson says not to sleep on Denver Nuggets

    Aug 29, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT

    Denver Nuggets Lawson celebrates a three-point shot against Golden State Warriors in their NBA Western Conference quarter-final basketball playoff in Denver Reuters

    If the Nuggets stay healthy, they are again a playoff threat in the West.

  3. Cavaliers GM admits concerns about rim protection on defense

    Aug 29, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Kevin Love, David Griffin Kevin Love, David Griffin

    Protecting the paint is the obvious Achilles heel of the Cavaliers, on paper anyway.

  4. Kings rookie Nik Stauskus shares summer NBA experiences (VIDEO)

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:01 AM EDT

    Stauskas is thrilled to have finally made it to the NBA.

  5. Miami Heat top 10 plays of 2014 season (VIDEO)

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:29 PM EDT

    Chris Bosh Chris Bosh

    Wade and Bosh show they can get the job done now that LeBron has moved on.

  6. Supreme Court has a basketball court (photo)

    Aug 28, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Highest Court in the Land

  7. Damian Lillard first in line as Team USA injury replacement

    Aug 28, 2014, 5:35 PM EDT

    Dominican Republic v United States Getty Images

    Could Trail Blazers guard replace Derrick Rose in World Cup?

  8. Watch the World Cup hype video

    Aug 28, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    See Pau Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon and Serge Ibaka dance

  9. Rockets sign undrafted Tarik Black to partially guaranteed two-year contract

    Aug 28, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    Tarik Black, Hassan Whiteside, DeAndre Daniels Tarik Black, Hassan Whiteside, DeAndre Daniels

    Black, who played at Kansas and Memphis, could be headed to Houston’s D-League affiliate

  10. David Griffin defends Cavaliers’ pursuit of John Calipari

    Aug 28, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT

    David Griffin David Griffin

    Dan Gilbert, after throwing money at Kentucky coach, settled for management that landed LeBron James and Kevin Love this offseason

  11. Lakers’ physical therapist: Kobe Bryant has highest pain tolerance I’ve ever seen

    Aug 28, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Charlotte Bobcats Getty Images

    Judy Seto doesn’t even bother asking Kobe to rate his pain, because the question is pointless

  12. Dante Exum to come off the bench for Australia in World Cup

    Aug 28, 2014, 12:20 PM EDT

    Dante Exum Dante Exum

    Jazz guard will play behind Matthew Dellavedova and Ryan Broekhoff

  13. Coach K had DeMarcus Cousins as USA’s backup big long before final cuts

    Aug 28, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT

    Dominican Republic v USA Getty Images

    Cousins was long safe and part of the USA rotation.

  14. Report: Kobe Bryant studying Paul Pierce on how to adapt game as he ages

    Aug 28, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

    Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant

    If you’re trying to age your game gracefully, Pierce is a great model.

  15. Derrick Rose dismisses injury concern after blah showing against Slovenia

    Aug 28, 2014, 9:52 AM EDT

    Derrick Rose, Anderson Varejao, Raulzinho Neto Derrick Rose, Anderson Varejao, Raulzinho Neto

    Rose will probably have to prove it while coming off the bench behind Kyrie Irving in World Cup

Featured video

Will LeBron get booed Christmas Day in Miami?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Love (3661)
  2. D. Rose (2913)
  3. K. Bryant (2557)
  4. L. James (2489)
  5. K. Irving (2244)
  1. T. Young (2042)
  2. A. Davis (2020)
  3. R. Allen (1858)
  4. S. Marion (1764)
  5. E. Okafor (1697)