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.