ECF Game 1: Preview and Open Thread

Season Series:
Game 1: Chicago won 99-96 (Derrick Rose: 34 points, 8 assists; Dwayne Wade: 33 points, 6 rebounds)

Game 2: Chicago won 93-89 (Dwayne Wade: 34 points, 8 rebounds; Luol Deng: 20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists)

Game 3: Chicago won 87-86 (LeBron James: 26 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists; Derrick Rose: 27 points, 5 assists)

Injuries:
None

Overview:
Bulls-Heat. It all comes full circle doesn’t it? The Heat, the team many people believed would be the number one seed, faces off against Chicago, the surprise number one seed. Chicago went after the three stars leading Miami into this series. They missed out, but snagged some nice consolation prizes.

The biggest question is which Chicago Bulls will show up? Did it take the Bulls ten postseason games, or more exactly, 39 quarters, to get back to what they were doing in the regular season, or are they going to start this series like the other two? Chicago is coming into this series playing their best ball of the post season.

There was a lot of talk about Rose shooting too much. And 23.3 shots per game may seem like too much, but Chicago needed him to take those shots. If you watched game six, Rose was dishing extremely well, especially to Carlos Boozer (and Taj Gibson in the fourth quarter of game five). Derrick only took 14 shots, because they didn’t need his scoring as much (although he still scored 19 points), Rose knows what to do. He can be a passing point guard if other guys are hitting shots, or he can take over. It’s really the best of both worlds.

Chicago was 3-0 against Miami in the regular season, but this is a new Miami team. They seem to have everything figured out during this postseason. Boston was 3-0 against Miami in the regular and then got romped in the playoffs.

That’s not to say that Boston and Chicago are the same, because Chicago is much younger and the Bulls point guard isn’t playing with one arm (knock on wood that doesn’t happen). Chicago also has home court advantage, for what that is worth, and the Bulls big offseason acquisition will actually contribute on the court and not just on the dinner bill.

The Bulls won the regular season games, but LeBron didn’t play in the first game (neither did Noah) and Chris Bosh went 1-18 in the second match-up. As much as everyone would like to see that again, it probably won’t happen. And Chicago won by an average of less than three points. That’s one possession over the course of the game that meant the difference between winning and losing.

And although Rose played well against Miami, averaging 29.0 points on 44.6 percent shooting, while adding 6.3 assists, he recorded a plus/minus of -3 for the entire series. This again shows how important the bench is, especially compared to Miami’s lack of bench players.

Overall the player match-ups will be key. And none will be bigger than Luol Deng against LeBron James. The two played 75 minutes against each other during the regular season. Deng’s numbers aren’t bad. He averaged 16.8 points on 57 percent shooting, 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists with LeBron on the court. With LeBron off (in 47 minutes) Deng averaged 11.5 points on 33 percent, 6.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists.

LeBron on the other hand averaged 25.4 points (57 percent shooting) per 36 minutes, to go with 7.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists when Luol Deng is on the court. His season stats per 36 minutes were 24.8 on 51 percent shooting, 6.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists.

Per 36 minutes, with Keith Bogans on the court, Dwayne Wade averaged just 19.8 points and his plus/minus is -13.2. Does that mean more Bogans!? Bogans is shooting 48.7 percent from three in the post season. In the Atlanta series he shot 10-21. Bogans shot just 38 percent from behind the arc during the regular season.

The Heat will definitely have a strategy in place to slow Derrick Rose, but what’s more important will be Chicago’s defense. The Bulls offense does not always show up, but the defense does, and Chicago will need it more to stop the two superstars and whatever you want to call Chris Bosh.

Another key is rebounding, which Chicago has been consistently good at. During the regular season, the Bulls out-rebounded Miami 43.7 to 33.0. The Bulls also won the offensive rebound battle 11.0 to 6.7. Chicago will need all the easy buckets they can get against a good defensive team.

“I think a lot of people are looking forward to this series,” LeBron James said. “It’s going to be two great defensive teams [that] take pride defensively, [teams that] get more out of getting stops than they do in scoring…May the best man win.” Team, LeBron…teams play basketball. Maybe that team thing could be key.

One-man-band:
Via ESPN Stats and Information: Six previous times in NBA history has an MVP with no other All-Stars on his team faced off against a team with 3+ All-Stars in that season’s playoffs. The team with the multiple All-Stars won 5 of those 6 series, with Hakeem Olajuwon being the only MVP to win, leading the Rockets to a victory over a Knicks team featuring All-Stars Patrick Ewing, John Starks, and Charles Oakley in the 1994 NBA Finals.

Chicago isn’t exactly one guy and 4 scrubs, just ask Carlos Boozer. “It hasn’t been a one-man show, but our one man is pretty good.”

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.

13 Responses to ECF Game 1: Preview and Open Thread

  1. njcamporese@yahoo.com'
    Nicky C May 15, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

    Luke’s green lightsaber always wins in the end…

    Believe it or not, the tell-tale signs were there all along: LeBron James has always been the Anakin Skywalker of the story. He was supposed to bring balance to the Force with his combination of strength and grace, his charm and marketability. A child prodigy, his midichlorian reading was, literally, off the scale. He was the Chosen One – the one we’ve searched for since Jedi Master Jordan disappeared after 1998 – and he even placed a tattoo across his shoulders proclaiming the prophecy to be true. LeBron Skywalker had so much potential, so much capacity for goodness…yet his heart was never pure. It was disappointingly susceptible to the evils of global branding, greed, and domination, and we couldn’t see it until it was too late.

    This past summer, DWade Emperor Palpatined the shit out of Chicago. He was supposed to be on our side, the good side. He is from Chicago. This is his home, even if it isn’t as nice as South Beach. But he played the whole NBA Galaxy, and he transitioned from Senator Wade of the Republic to Emperor Wade of the Galactic Empire when he openly courted Count Chris Boshoo – a good general – to come and play with him in Miami, the only livable, beautiful city on the burning planet of Mustafar. It turned out that Emperor Wade really only pretended to be interested in playing for the Bulls in order to report the schemes back to Miami and Pat Riley, the embodiment of the dark side of the Force and the spirit of the Galactic Empire brewing in Miami.

    Not long after, Emperor Wade and Count Boshoo tag-teamed LeBron Skywalker, tempting LBJ by preying on his inner insecurity demons with the dark side of the Force: “You’ll never win a ring without us…Cleveland doesn’t love you like you think they do…Your fans will turn on you if you don’t join us…it’s your destiny…” they whispered in LeBron’s naïve ears. And on July 8, 2010, Emperor Wade’s influence on LeBron became complete, as LeBron Skywalker subsequently sealed his fate with a terrible Decision to destroy his very own hardworking hometown city of Cleveland, located on the peaceful planet of Alderaan, on national television. LeBron Vader left his home in ruins, and it is now a barren wasteland with absolutely no hope for the future.

    LeBron has since fully embraced his inner dark side by willingly wearing the black, menacing uniform of the Miami Heat, calling out his opposition on Twitter, and breathing extra heavily when the cameras zoom in on his face after he makes big plays to crush the spirit of the Rebellion against him. In fact, every time he takes his first step on the basketball court, particularly the United Center, ‘The Imperial March’ can be heard echoing throughout the stadium.

    The Clone Wars have raged on since late October 2010, but even though the Rebellion took some decent shots at the evil Miami Empire throughout the season, making dents here and there in their Death Star campaign for 73+ wins (the public bickering, the LBJ / Spoelstra Grievous bump, the losing, the crying…after losing to the Bulls for the third straight time), the Empire’s Death Star, piloted by Riley, just kept on moving forward. Even when it looked as though they would self-combust, the Miami Empire fought on, demolishing virtually everything in their path by the end of the season.

    The Clone Wars, predictably, culminated in an epic showdown between the Celtics, the current Jedi Order, and the universally hated Heat. The veteran Jedis were expected to win with Obi-Wan-Pierce, Qui-Gon-Ray, Mace Garnett, and Jedi Master Shaq – the champions of yesteryear – leading the way. Although these battle tested Jedi Knights fought valiantly, they were ultimately overpowered by the dark side of the Force, as their collective age finally caught up to them. Jedi Master Shaq, who was supposed to tip the scale in favor of the light, ended up falling short in an anti-climactic and depressing final showing as a Jedi. These good men must now go into hiding until a new balance comes along to overthrow the looming Death Star that is currently casting a long, dark shadow on the entire NBA.

    But fear not – a new balance in the Force is coming. There is a light, a goodness on the way. It was supposed to be LeBron Skywalker, but that Mon Calamari Star Cruiser has sailed. This new balance is the anti-LeBron Vader, and he would never fall to the temptations of Emperor Wade and the dark side of the Force. This new balance stands for everything LeBron Vader and his Galactic Empire could have stood for, but doesn’t and never will. This balance just wants to weeen – nothing else. This balance’s name is Derrick Fucking Rose.

    Derrick Rose came from the rough inner city of Chicago, located on the corrupt planet of Tattooine. He always knew he was meant for something bigger than what Tattooine had to offer, so he worked his ass off day and night to be the best player and person he could be…and he’s been biding his time, waiting for the NBA Galaxy to dial his number in a time of need.

    That time is now.

    LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh might be the most powerful villains in the universe, but Derrick Rose is the Luke Skywalker of the story. Only he can prevent the Galactic Empire from ruining professional basketball for all of eternity while making his predecessor see the error in his ways. And with the help of Derrick’s courageous rebel friends – Carlos Solo, Joakim Chewbacca, and R2Deng2 – the Bulls will win and restore the NBA Galaxy to a good, righteous place.

    #MVP

  2. bscholtens@hotmail.com'
    Brad S May 15, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    Nicky C, …you’re crazy.

    I love it!!!

  3. rossbushman@gmail.com'
    Ross May 15, 2011 at 10:21 pm #

    Absolutely love the Star Wars analogy. (Even though Anakin’s home world was Tatooine not Alderaan, know your Star Wars!) I’ll have to agree that the two teams could not be any more opposite, and this is the ultimate battle between good and evil of our time.

  4. duane.gorey@gmail.com'
    bgsbnny May 16, 2011 at 1:45 am #

    anyone have a link for a live stream?

  5. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath May 16, 2011 at 3:10 am #

    um.

    Wow.

    speechless.

  6. jc_555@yahoo.com'
    cmb2345 May 16, 2011 at 3:27 am #

    hahaha…..Nicky C that was great lol….u must have watched the marathon on spike last week lol ……wow about the post and the game lol wat a game tonight big props to deng for his defense while still being solid on offense did anyone notice how gassed dwade looked after guarding rose for like half a quarter? that really puts into perspective wat deng did tonight maybe thats the reason thibs played deng as much as he has all season long cuz deng’s conditioning is great to be on lebron all game long while not taking plays off on offense…..keep it up ….GO BULLS!!!!!

  7. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath May 16, 2011 at 3:59 am #

    TAJ MABALL!

  8. lukerygh@gmail.com'
    Luke May 16, 2011 at 4:24 am #

    greatest event I have ever been to in my entire life, even better than game 4 of the boston series

  9. shadowjosh85@yahoo.com'
    Crazee May 16, 2011 at 6:48 am #

    A wild Miami Heat Appears!

    Bulls use defense

    Defense is Super Effective!

    In all seriousness, most observers chalked up Chicago’s 62 wins to the idea that they played at a playoff level all year long while other teams paced themselves. And this came up again when the Bulls played poorly at times in the postseason. It seems pretty clear that the Bulls do have another gear, though. We saw it late in games 1 and 2 against Indy, and all of Game 5. We saw it games 3 and 6 against Atlanta. And now we saw it tonight.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bulls struggle in game 2, but I’m absolutely confident that this team can turn it on defensively whenever it wants to.The passing has been exceptional, as well. This team plays better under pressure, and that’s a good sign going forward. Yeah, Miami can win this series. I have to say that. But Chicago shot 42%, Chris Bosh outscored Derrick Rose, and Joakim Noah shot 4 for 14. This wasn’t a fluke, the Bulls took advantage of things they CAN do every night(rebound and defend). The Heat will be better in game 2, but screw it…Bulls in 5.

  10. Tae May 16, 2011 at 7:17 am #

    Is anyone else severely annoyed ESPN Chicago are the most anti-Bulls ever? They’re PAID to watch Bulls game, yet they mocked the people that chose the Bulls winning the series (specifically Zach Harper.)

    That’s disgusting.

  11. speed_to_ge@hotmail.com'
    tonious35 May 16, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    Characters you forgot Nicky C:

    Grand Moff Ilgaukaus

    Dampier the Hutt

    Boba-Jones

    Visage Bibby

    Jedi Master Kitt-Rondo

    C3P-Korver

    Tom Thibo-Yoda

    Lando Taj-rissian

    Wedge Bogans

    Admiral Asik-bar

    Big-Sexy Organa

    Wiket-brine (Ewok)

    Great game!! I’m glad Gar Foreman refuse to let Omer Asik go for the sake of trying to trade for an SG. Omer completes the Bench mob as a center and will dive for a loose ball and injure Bosh again in the process. Bogans will always be a work working 3pt shooter despite the lack in talent, but he will not steal shots away from Rose.

  12. m May 16, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    celts went 2-1 against the heat this regular season

  13. Tae May 16, 2011 at 11:47 pm #

    The Celtics also sucked since the Jeff Green/Perkins trade.

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