Eastern Conference Finals: Game 3 Preview and Open Thread

Game Two Stats:
Chicago Starting 5: 55 points, 29 rebounds (16 offensive), 13 assists, 4 steals
LeBron James and Dwayne Wade: 51 points, 19 rebounds (4 offensive), 7 assists, 4 steals
Udonis Haslem: Day-to-Day, Foot, did not practice Friday
LeBron James: Day-to-Day, flu-like symptoms, will play
After Game One I said that Miami was the team that had to make the changes. They did. Now it’s Chicago’s turn to adjust to what the Heat just did to them.
The Bulls, after playing great in game one, got beat bad in game two. Chicago escaped their somewhat poor shooting in game one by getting a ton of offensive rebounds and second chance points. But Chicago shot almost 10 percent worse from the field in game two, and couldn’t wiggle their way out of that 34.2 percent shooting.
And after making 10-21 three pointers (47.7 percent) in game one, the Bulls fell to 3-20 (15 percent) in the most recent matchup. No one could hit from long range. Luol Deng was 1-7 from behind the arc, after going 4-6 in game one. Kyle Korver continued to struggle, going just 1-5. And Keith Bogans went just 1-4. Derrick Rose didn’t hit any of his three attempts.
The shooting didn’t get much better when the Bulls moved in closer either. From within nine feet Rose was 2-11, Noah was 4-9, and Boozer was 3-7. And although Chicago brought down 17 offensive rebounds, they scored just 18 second chance points. They went 5-14 off those offensive rebounds, according to ESPN Stats and Information. The Bulls scored 31 second chance points in game one, off of just two more offensive rebounds.
But the good news is that the Bulls know exactly what the Heat will do—score in the low to mid 80s on 47.1 percent shooting. Just like they did in both games this series.
Alright that’s probably not going to happen again, but game two is probably more similar to what to expect for the rest of the series. Both LeBron James and Dwayne Wade bounced back from their poor showings in game one. They combined for 20 more points in game two, and Wade made as many free throws by himself as both did in game one (eight).
LeBron shot 12-21 from the field with Wade shooting 8-16. James had 18 points in the paint in game two, after having just two in game one. You can expect more drives from Wade and LeBron as the series continues. They also combined for 17 free throws, which is probably going to continue as well. James did have five turnovers though and only recorded a plus/minus of +8, which isn’t fantastic.
Mike Bibby played surprisingly good defense on Derrick Rose, and recorded a plus/minus of +16.
Miami made some adjustments to limit the scoring off of offensive rebounds, but Chicago still grabbed a bunch of offensive rebounds. If Chicago keeps averaging 18.0 offensive rebounds per game, good things should happen. The Bulls probably won’t go 4-13 again on their second chance points, and should shoot better from in close.
And I know I keep saying it, but it keeps getting proven correct: when Chicago plays a poor game, they come out and play well in the next one. Especially Derrick Rose. He almost always bounces back. And according to ESPN Stats and Information, games twos are not Rose’s friend. “While Derrick Rose has been excellent in series-openers, Game 2 has not been as nice. Rose averages 8 points fewer in Game 2 and in five career games has shot just 39 percent from the field, including a 7-23 performance on Wednesday.”
Something that must improve is Chicago’s crunch time defense. Normally very good, their defense at the end of game two was not great. LeBron James by himself scored nine points in the final 4:30.
Against the Pacers and Hawks, the Bulls defense was at its best in the fourth quarter. This was one of the Bulls biggest weapons, allowing them to come back from a few fourth quarter deficits. But it didn’t happen in game two; partly because the Bulls are playing a much better offensive team, with LeBron, Wade and Chris Bosh.
Chicago can definitely play better, and Thibodeau should have a game plan to harass LeBron next game, and not let him get into a rhythm, particularly at the end of the game.  As long as Chicago continues to bring down offensive rebounds (while winning the rebounding battle like they did in game one) and defends better, the Bulls have a good chance of getting home court advantage back.

About the Author:
Braedan Ritter was born and raised in Pennsylvania but was swayed by gifts from his aunt to follow the Chicago sports teams. It didn’t hurt that the Bulls had a guy named Michael Jordan playing for them, and the Sixers had…Derrick Coleman. Braedan has stuck with Chicago through thick and thin, and really thin (see: Chicago Cubs). And speaking of Coleman, Braedan is currently a student at Syracuse University.

11 Responses to Eastern Conference Finals: Game 3 Preview and Open Thread

  1. Luke May 22, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    Game 2 was more of a fluke than any part of game 1 was. Bulls in 6

  2. MeeX May 22, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    Bulls need this one! Look for Rose to record a stat line of around 45 pts 16 ast 14 reb 10 blk for the league’s first quadruple-double in NBA playoff basketball as the Bulls cruise to a 147-82 victory.

    Hey one can hope.

  3. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath May 22, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

    Let me be the first to say:

    I have no frickin idea or sense or gut feeling at all about this game.

  4. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob May 22, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

    Braedan, I noticed that you picked Miami to win game three in the 5-on-5 article. I want to ask everyone how often Rose, Korver, Deng and Boozer have all had bad shooting nights at the same time? The defense played well in game two. They allowed 3 more points than game one. In both games in this series the Bulls have limited Miami to 68 shots while they got 87 in game 1 and 82 in game 2. The “Big Three” scored 63 points in both game 1 and game 2, that is roughly 75% of the Heat offense. If that continues I do not see the Heat winning this series. I do not see the Bulls shooting 34% very often.

  5. pc_eclipse@yahoo.com'
    Savage May 23, 2011 at 3:16 am #

    Rose needs another move for when doubles come. Every time to kick it to the center at the free throw line just is not working. Rose has been unable to exploit a terrible defender in Bibby, it’s so tough to watch this. His play in this series has been a huge disappointment to me but I guess he is young so we have time to grow.

  6. Inception May 23, 2011 at 3:34 am #

    Heat are better right now with momentum clearly on their side.

    unbiased outlook: MIA takes this in 6.

    as a CHI fan: let’s just try and get this to a game 7 and hope for the best.

  7. prosper.guard@gmail.com'
    MadKing May 23, 2011 at 3:48 am #

    Ugh, that one hurt. I hate the Boshtrich.

  8. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob May 23, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    The Bulls were throughly out played last night. It was nice to see Boozer get busy, unfortunately the defence as picked apart by James. The Heat looked very good last night.

  9. Inception May 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    Bosh is so annoying to watch…i’m not just saying this because of the loss last night…i’ve always felt this…first llama to play in the nba.

    sorry, had to get that off my chest.

  10. scott.newbold@inbox.com'
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