The Chicago Bulls haven’t lost Joakim Noah or Taj Gibson for their actions in Game 2, but it still doesn’t mean they’re in good shape. The Miami Heat haven’t enjoyed a lot of success in the windy city in recent years, but their demolition in the previous game without having to get the best out of LeBron James or Dwyane Wade has them feeling quite confident heading into the away leg of the series.
The NBA champions set a new record for the franchise in their biggest ever postseason win, while inflicting the worst loss in franchise history for the Bulls in the postseason. Pride will play a huge part in how Chicago respond, but the limited tools at their disposal, still missing Luol Deng who might not be back at all in this postseason because of his hospital ordeal which cost him not just time, but also 15 pounds of his weight.
Without Deng, the Bulls continue to operate on an already quite short quilt, and some of their players actually got a chance to rest up during the blow out against the Heat because they were either ejected or there was no use for them on the court anymore. A blessing in disguise? It’s hard to find anyone who thinks that way.
Because the Bulls stole game 1 doesn’t make them equal to the Miami Heat. Their defense might be able to trouble and hang on with LeBron James better than most, but as the four-time MVP showed in game 2, when he’s focused and feeling fit, there’s no problem for him to take on four players on the way to the basket, more than once or twice. The Bulls can rely on defense all they want, but without any kind of order offensively, it eventually causes a breakdown on every level.
Kirk Hinrich is waiting for the results of yet another MRI, but most chances are he’ll be sitting out for the sixth consecutive game, not playing since game 4 against the Brooklyn Nets, a triple overtime game in which Hinrich played the entire 60 minutes. The Bulls lack any order on offense since he’s gone and are hurting defensively at times due to Nate Robinson not being the biggest player on the court.
Unless Chicago play the way they started out against the Heat – which means a lot of touches for both Noah and Boozer on offense and staying away from contested shots, it’s going to be another punishment-filled night against a Heat team that had its fair of chances in the series opener, but only starting taking advantage of those a game later.
Prediction – It isn’t going to be another blow out as long as the Bulls don’t lose their cool about the referees or anything else, but the Miami Heat are better and rested heading into this one, which means that as long as they don’t mess up the open shots, they should be good to go and take the lead in the series for the first time.