Eastern Conference Finals: Game 5 Preview and Open Thread

Game Four Stats:
Derrick Rose: 23 points (8-27, 1-9 from three), 6 assists

LeBron James: 35 points (11-26, 13-13 free throws), 6 rebounds, 6 assists

Chicago is staring down the end of their season tonight, and will be for the rest of this series. If the Bulls lose another one, it will be the sad end to a great season. And with only three teams left, the pressure is on Chicago to do what the Thunder couldn’t: win in the only true must-win situation in sports, when facing elimination. The difference is Chicago is returning home for what may be their last game.

The Bulls dropped game four in Miami, the first time they lost three games in a row all season, and now head back home for the first of three must-wins. It’s going to be hard, but it’s not impossible.

In game four, it was once again “pick-your-poison” as to who would beat the Bulls. This time is was LeBron James, scoring 35 points, going 13-13 from the charity stripe. Chris Bosh also played well, scoring 22 points on 50 percent shooting.

One positive was that the Bulls held Dwayne Wade in check, forcing him to go 5-16 from the field and allowing him to score just 14 points in 41 minutes. But they only stopped one of the big three which isn’t going to get it done.

There really weren’t too many other positives aside from slowing down Wade. Remember when the “Bench Mob” was Chicago’s biggest advantage. And Miami’s bench was considered weak, if not non-existent. Well that script was flipped last game. Four of five Miami starters had negative plus/minuses, including LeBron (-1) and Wade (-10). But their bench played extremely well. Mike Miller (+36), Udonis Haslem (+25) and Mario Chalmers (+10) all had good numbers in relatively short periods of time.

“We understand it’s going to be a tough game,” Wade said. “But we have the team and we have the guys that are capable of showing up and putting on a performance that we need to win the game. It’s not going to be pretty, but that’s not Miami Heat basketball anyway.”

The Heat weren’t considered the strongest “team.” It was three guys and a bunch of who-are-they’s? But last game shows that the Miami Heat really are playing well together. It was Miami’s team (the eight players that got minutes) that showed up and pushed the Heat to victory.

Some other big reasons for the Bulls’ loss were Luol Deng’s -8 plus/minus and Rose’s -2; that means some of the most consistent aspects of Chicago’s season didn’t play the way they were expected to. The rest of the starters played alright, recording +9 (Carlos Boozer), +5 (Joakim Noah) and +10 (Keith Bogans).

LeBron and Wade combined to go 17-17 from the line. That’s as many free throws as the entire Bulls team made. The Heat had 32 made free throws, 15 more than Chicago. Derrick Rose only got to the line seven times, not nearly enough, especially when he is only shooting just 8-27 from the field, and 1-9 from three.

Rose is at his best attacking, and it was no different in game four. He went 5-10 at the rim, solid numbers. But from the rest of the floor, he went just 3-17. Yuck. Add to that his seven turnovers and it shows how poor Rose’s game was.

It’s not easy to get to the rim against Miami, but Rose needs to keep pushing. He isn’t hitting his threes, so he needs to get to the hole. He will either get fouled or get an easier look than he would from behind the arc.

The Bulls as a team have only hit 14 three pointers in the three consecutive losses. They went 10-21 in the only game they won. If they are to have a chance at a comeback, they need to hit their outside shots. I’m looking at you Kyle Korver.

The chances are bleak, but Chicago isn’t going to quit. “I really believe we’ve got a group of guys that are going to keep on fighting,” Deng said. “There’s no quit in us. There’s no quit in that locker room. It’s really going to come down to the end of the game again.”

Chicago is the only thing between a rematch of the 2006 NBA finals, needing to win three straight. Great teams stare down adversity and play their best games. It seemed like the Bulls were a great team for much of the season. We’ll see if the Bulls are that great team we hoped for, or if the Bulls are just over-matched against the Heat.

17 Responses to Eastern Conference Finals: Game 5 Preview and Open Thread

  1. enigmatik.inviktus@gmail.com'
    Enigmatik May 26, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    Oh…I forgot to mention…

    Take and make easy shots…make open shots…make every possession count…crash the glass…force turnovers…play smart…play with confidence…make the right pass…make simple passes…draw fouls…attack the paint…push the basketball in transition..win the basketball game.

  2. TBF May 26, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    There’s just a talent disparity. The Heat can win if 2 out of 3 stars play well. The Bulls can’t win unless everyone on the team plays out of their mind. Not to mention the fact that they can get by with coasting along for some of the game because we only have 1 or 2 guys who are even a threat to score. We have to play lockdown, all out every trip up and down. They just wear us out, and it showed last game.

    Sorry Bulls fans. I get the feeling we’re at the end of the line.

  3. Ryan May 26, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    One game at a time, right? Thibs has been preaching that all season… now it is for real.

  4. MeeX May 26, 2011 at 9:37 pm #


    Matt McHale, By The Horns: Their lack of a second consistent perimeter scoring threat outside of Rose. Someone who can break down defenders off the dribble, create his own shot and drill long-range jumpers to help spread the defense. The Bulls don’t have that. They have Keith Bogans.


    They have RASUAL BUTLER! Who, while not the best at taking people off the dribble can defend well, hit long range jumpers, and put the Miami defense off balance. Why not give him a few minutes for Korver who hasn’t done anything all series?

  5. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath May 26, 2011 at 10:08 pm #


    Heat – 50% – 16 – 23 ft shots.

    They are not likely to match that, even with their talent level. (Thank you, Matt.)

    Of course, they are likely to improve their ‘at the rim’ conversion rate (from 44%).

    But, those possibly missed long shots are more conducive to getting us out on the break for some easier baskets.

    Also, those missed shots make it easier to protect the paint.

    LeBron may have swayed some of his critics, as to being a closer in a single game, but, he still has to show he can close a big series.

    Lastly, Rose has made big adjustments to his game and I believe he has the will, strength and natural creativity to get it done. It may only be good for a win or two, but I still believe in him (and the team, as a whole).

  6. Inception May 26, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

    i just wonder what’s going through their heads right now….the media is already talking about a MIA/DAL finals….if CHI truly thinks they can still win this series, then i’d be worried if i were a MIA fan.

    that’s a big IF though.

  7. Prettyal39211@yahoo.com'
    Al May 26, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    We need to try and snatch Monta Ellis from Golden State.

  8. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath May 27, 2011 at 3:19 am #

    That really hurt…

  9. bodybagsteven@gmail.com'
    BFD May 27, 2011 at 3:21 am #

    At least we held onto Asik and Gibson instead of flipping one of them for a shooter during the season.

  10. Inception May 27, 2011 at 3:29 am #

    we look so helpless on offense in the clutch (during the ECF) with Rose as the only one-on-one weapon…definitely have been exposed in this series….if those last 3 minutes doesn’t cause Pax/Gar to make a bold move for a SG, then i don’t know what will!

  11. Brian May 27, 2011 at 3:32 am #

    absolutely pathetic.

  12. Inception May 27, 2011 at 3:33 am #

    also – two of the big three for CHI were on the bench for the 4th……how do you expect to compete with MIA’s big three? it’s the playoffs – where the stars are supposed to shine….ridiculous.

  13. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath May 27, 2011 at 4:01 am #

    James Harden.

  14. popemanage@yahoo.com'
    deron May 27, 2011 at 4:36 am #

    Like the Thunder, the Bulls have to go through growing pains, the Heat will be to them what the Bad Boys were to the late 80s Bulls.

    Defining win for this Heat team. Looking forward to the 2006 finals rematch too. It should be the best NBA Finals in recent memory. I can’t call it though; maybe after game 1.

    They have also gone from 1-6 against the Bulls and Celtics to 8-2; one of the biggest turnaround in the last 30 years.


  15. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath May 27, 2011 at 5:07 am #

    a few minutes to shake it off and I am still impressed…

    The big picture:

    Our team won 42 games last season.

    Our team won 71 games this season.

    Go Bulls.

  16. MeeX May 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    I can’t remember a time when I’ve been more disappointed after a basketball game. However, the future looks bright.

  17. Inception May 27, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    well, at least 2/3 of the foundation is set – Rose and Thibs….Boozer is not the other third and neither is Noah, but Noah is a valuable piece that needs to stay…Boozer should be a goner IMO.

    i said it during the regular season – CHI needs to make a bold move and acquire that solid sidekick for Rose….if not, we’ll be that team making the 2nd/3rd round and getting bounced.

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