Eastern Conference Finals: Game 4 Preview and Open Thread

Game Three Stats:
Carlos Boozer: 26 points (8-19), 17 rebounds

Chris Bosh:  34 points (13-18), 5 rebounds

Chicago is heading into unfamiliar territory tonight, playing a game 4 down 2-1 in a series for the first time this postseason. They now look to force Miami into similar territory by giving them their first home playoff loss of this postseason.

The Bulls haven’t lost more than two games in a row this whole season. And this two game losing skid the Bulls are currently on is their first since losing to Golden State and Portland back in February.

Chris Bosh once again beat the Bulls. He went 1-17 once during the regular season against Chicago, and now in the playoffs in games one and three he has torn the Bulls apart.

It’s been pick your poison for Chicago. Games one and three were the Chris Bosh show, but the Bulls pulled one of them out. Then in game two it was LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. It is almost impossible to stop all three of these guys. But that’s the reason the three of them joined forces in Miami: to be unstoppable.

That’s not to say Chicago can’t do it. They won game one even with Bosh scoring 30. Chicago just has to do enough on offense to get by. But that’s been a problem lately. They are averaging only 80 points in their last two games. They are shooting under 40 percent in the series. That isn’t going to get it done in a series with three very talented offensive players on the other team.

Derrick Rose has been struggling for most of the playoffs, but it was usually from outside. That isn’t the case this series. According to ESPN Next Level, “In the first two rounds of the playoffs, Derrick Rose was effective attacking the basket as he shot over 50 percent within 5 feet of the basket. Against the Heat, that effectiveness has dramatically decreased as the MVP is averaging just 4.7 PPG within 5 feet on just 38.9 percent shooting.”

Rose’s bread and butter has been his inside game, especially since his outside shots, three pointers specifically, haven’t been falling. He needs to pick it up in the paint for the Bulls to have a shot. And since we’re on the subject, he also needs to have more than five assists in the game. He has been getting doubled, and when that happens he needs to find the open man (the open man also has to hit the shot though, which isn’t always a given).

There seems to be a lot of panic regarding the Bulls, but the series is just 2-1. Yes, the Heat won two in a row, but the Bulls can steal home court back with a win tonight; even the lighter-in-the-wallet Joakim Noah realizes this.

“Thibs always talks about walking through a fire together,” Noah said. “That’s what it’s all about. You win Game 1, there is a lot of love after the game. You lose two, it’s like the end of the world. But if we can get this one on Tuesday tied up going home, that would be a good position to be in.”

Erik Spoelstra agrees. “All we’ve done to this point is do exactly what they did at home,” Spoelstra said. “They won the first game at home and we have to find a way in a possession game to come out ahead again tomorrow night. There is not going to be one easy possession in this series.”

The Bulls really need this game. If they go down 3-1, it will be very tough to make the comeback and win three in a row. To get this win, Chicago needs to contain the big three, or as many of them as they can, and find a way to end this scoring slump.

More from ESPN Next Level:
“In the Conference Finals, the bench combo of Omer Asik and Taj Gibson have played on average 10.7 minutes per game together. In those 10+ minutes on the floor together, the Bulls are a net positive 9.4 points per 100 possessions. Looking at Chicago’s other big-men combinations, it appears this combination has been by far the most effective. And while all numbers don’t take into consideration who they are playing against, it does hint that maybe Coach Thibs should consider giving more floor time to the Asik-Gibson combination.”

14 Responses to Eastern Conference Finals: Game 4 Preview and Open Thread

  1. bleigh82@gmail.com'
    bleigh82 May 24, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

    Win Bulls. Win.

  2. MP May 24, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

    Go Bulls, but anyone else intrigued when Miller and Korver are both on the court. It’s like a white on white blooper reel.

  3. pc_eclipse@yahoo.com'
    Savage May 25, 2011 at 12:46 am #

    I’m sorry the Refs are at it again I can hardly watch these games. Every single time the Heat go in and miss they get the whistle. When we go to hole and miss nothing. Something really strange going on here.

  4. pc_eclipse@yahoo.com'
    Savage May 25, 2011 at 3:13 am #

    Rose missed free throw, followed by two jump shots = overtime. If he drives to the whole 2 times he would have gotten to the line once. Terrible decision making by our leader.

  5. bodybagsteven@gmail.com'
    BFD May 25, 2011 at 3:38 am #

    Heartbreaking. Hopefully we can at least take game 5.

  6. scott.atherley@mail.mcgill.ca'
    ScottA May 25, 2011 at 3:42 am #

    Have a long mental list of things Chicago could have done better (the last 2 possessions of regulation being at the top of it); Miami’s gotten more calls, and I have to fight down my irrational conspiratorial side at times; but there are really no excuses. The Bulls had their chances and either didn’t or couldn’t take advantage. Until Chicago finds some more shot-creators or Rose really makes it to Lebron’s level, the Heat are better. Now, to drink until I actually believe what I just wrote. This is a difficult night.

  7. Inception May 25, 2011 at 4:00 am #

    tough loss….ahhh.

    one thing to say – Thibs should’ve recognized that Rose scoring on Lebron was not quite working at the time…the play call should’ve gone to Korver….yes, I know he was cold as ice, but a shooter like Korver lives for a situation like that….to hit the buzzer beater after missing every almost every previous shot from beyond the arc.

    too predictable of a call.

  8. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath May 25, 2011 at 4:40 am #

    Tough night.

    Lots already well said, so I will get to the point.

    Now, we get to see this version of the DRose Bulls with their backs against the wall.

    That’s it.

    Go Bulls. Make us proud.

  9. TBF May 25, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    I think it’s obvious, when you watch LeBron play and you watch DRose play, who the better player is at this point. LeBron made so many ridiculous shots where all you could do was shrug. With Derrick, he hardly makes any shots. Even his open looks he bricks them. He needs to be way more efficient with his shots. If the only way he can get to 20 points is by taking 20 shots, that’s not good enough. It’s just not. Your best offensive player cannot shoot less than 40% from the field. It’s been a theme for him this playoffs, and I think it exposes a weakness of our team. They’re willing to double D. Rose and we have no one else who can create offense.

    So the question is where do we go from here? Do we stand pat on this team and see what it does next year? Or do we try to get some help? Or do we wait and try our hand in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes? I gotta say, a starting 5 of Rose, Bogans, Deng, Noah and Howard would be almost impossible to score on, not to mention the fact that we’d have the most amazing front court in the league. I dunno. But sorry kids, we aren’t taking 3 in a row off the Heat. We just aren’t good enough.

  10. zilla2033@yahoo.com'
    Mattzilla May 25, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    Well….I hate statistics. Even though we have basically no chance to move on, I still want the Bulls to play HARD until they’re done. I think an entire summer (and possibly more) with Thibs and Rose having as much film as possible is a GREAT thing for our future.

    That being said, is there anyone/group out there that keeps good stats on jump shooting % with no defenders within 3, 4, or 5 feet of the shooter? Athletic Heat defense be damned, we would be up 3-1 or possibly better if we hit 50% of our open jumpers. The games (before desperation/free throw time) have just been THAT close at the end, to the point where making 3 of 6 gift wrapped jumpers instead of 1 of 6 or 0 of 6 could have turned the tide, and it ****es me off that something so fundamental could be such a major role in losing this series.

  11. SuperJoe May 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    I am so pissed at Rose. Also the refs.

  12. SuperJoe May 25, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    Also, why not try Rasual Butler out there? Tall, veteran 2 guard who can shoot and play defense. Come on Thibs.

  13. s@s.com'
    Shawn May 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    I quit watching at some point during a Heat run because life is too short to spend any of it watching LeBron James smile. Hate him, hate his team.

    Hope the Bulls can at least extend the series and avoid losing 4 straight to these jerks.

  14. scott.atherley@mail.mcgill.ca'
    ScottA May 25, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    Definitely true about the shooting, but long shooting slumps have been with them all year. Makes the series agonizing to watch, but we kind of need to accept it until they pick up some more play makers / shooters in the off-season.

    With the benefit of a night of sleep, I’m wondering if Thib. is being a bit stubborn. It’s not without reason; he’s seen that if the shooting percentages pick up to average, they win, and he seems to be counting on that rather then making serious offensive adjustments. Case in point: I hated the last two plays in regulation – if there was a time for a Rose/Korver (guarded by Mike Miller at the time) pick and roll, one (or both) of those possessions was it. Take a little pressure off Derrick; make Miller and Lebron communicate instead of giving the best player in the game two chances to make a stop.

    All that being said, those 2 shots were on the edge of going in; if that happens, or if one or two little things fall the Bulls way, or if Mike Miller doesn’t return from the dead, which I don’t think anyone expected, it’s 2-2 and no one’s questioning anything.

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