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.”