Having wrapped up its best season in franchise history and home court advantage throughout the playoffs, the Heat have very little to play for, which could bold well for the Bulls
However, when you factor into the equation the fact that the Bulls snapped the Heat’s 27-game winning streak on March 27 and the mutual dislike these teams have for one another, the intensity level will rival that of a postseason contest.
The normal cast of missing players for the Bulls includes Derrick Rose (knee), Joakim Noah (foot) and Taj Gibson (knee) and Luol Deng (hip).
In addition that, Chicago will also be without Rip Hamilton, who received a one-game suspension for his flagrant foul against DeMar DeRozan in the team’s 97-88 loss to the Toronto Raptors on April 13 (according to ESPN).
In spite of the negatives facing the Bulls, there are a few ways they can come out on top in this one. Let’s take a quick look.
One of the ways to beat Miami is to implore a physical style of play. This means hard, but legitimate fouls and not allowing players such as LeBron James or Dwyane Wade free passes through the lane for easy baskets.
This was a tactic the Bulls implemented successfully at times during their 101-97 win in late March and James had this to say about the officiating after that game (via ESPN):
"First of all, Kirk Hinrich in the first quarter basically grabbed me with two hands and brought me to the ground. And the last one, Taj Gibson was able to collar me around my shoulder and bring me to the ground.
"Those are not basketball plays. And it's been happening all year."
With so many players out of the lineup, the Bulls would do themselves a huge favor if they duplicate this kind of hard-nosed play in today’s game.
Attack the Paint
Because of their size advantage up front, another area where the Bulls can attack the Heat is inside the paint. This is where Carlos Boozer and Nazr Mohammed come into the picture.
Carlos Boozer has recorded 11 double-doubles in the lat 13 games and has one in each of the three games against the Heat this season, including 21 points and 17 rebounds in the previous meeting between these teams.
Nazr Mohammed was one of the few bright spots for Chicago in the loss to the Raptors. Mohammed scored 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and pulled down 13 rebounds.
That said, it is imperative for Chicago to make a concerted effort to attack the paint as often as possible.
Another important area for the Bulls in this contest will be dictating the pace. The Heat are an excellent transition team and are nearly impossible to beat in an up-tempo style game.
The key for the Bulls here is to force Miami into a half-court game, while limiting the amount of turnovers as well.
With a chance to take over fifth place in the standings, the Bulls have a lot to play for and if they follow the blueprint outlined in this article and play solid defense, a win is definitely in the cards.