In Game 1 of the Bulls' second-round matchup with the Miami Heat, Noah will have to come up large again.
If the Bulls want to steal home-court advantage from the Heat in the opening game, the Bulls must rely on Noah. That reliance will not only be point and rebound production, but also the energy, hustle and defensive prowess he brings to the court.
Let's take a look at a couple of ways Noah can lead the Bulls to an upset victory in Miami tonight.
Be a monster on the boards
If there is one thing Joakim Noah can be counted on to do night in and night out, it is rebounding the basketball. He does so consistently on the offensive and defensive end of the floor.
His hustle and tenacity on the glass are usually unmatched, but it isn't because of a lack of effort by opponents.
Defensively, the ability to collect rebounds will go a long way in stealing Game 1. If Noah can play his normal physical style and box out the Heat attackers, it will prevent several second-chance opportunities for LeBron James and company.
The entire NBA knows how dangerous the Heat are offensively, so one-and-dones will allow the Bulls to slow the game down and play at their tempo.
This all comes back to Noah and his ability to out-work the Heat on the glass. Defensive rebounding goes a long way, but offensive rebounding goes even further.
In Game 7 against the Nets, Noah pulled down seven offensive rebounds. Offensive rebounds for Noah will cause disruption among the Heat defenders. This will allow him to either put the ball back up or kick it out to open jump shooters.
Noah's rebounding potential on both sides of the ball, if anything, will take a toll physically on the Heat's big men.
Funnel his passion and play disciplined
It is a league-wide known fact that Noah plays with overwhelming passion and energy, often seen running down the court waving his arms and yelling after a timely clutch play, whether it be a made basket or block.
Seeing that Noah is the emotional leader of this Bulls team, it will be important for him to channel those emotions in what is sure to be an intense Game 1.
He has to play disciplined basketball, particularly on the defensive end.
Noah will presumably be matched up with Chris Bosh a good amount of time. These two are similar players in that they can both score around the rim, but they also knock down elbow and wing jumpers.
For Noah, he can't be too aggressive and over-play Bosh. This means Noah must find a happy medium between imposing his presence in the paint and over-extending his defense when Bosh is on the perimeter, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald points out.
The arm-waving and screaming are inevitable parts of Noah's psyche on the court and what drives him, which is an inherent and unchangeable facet of his playing style.
Defensive discipline, on the other hand, is something that can be controlled and may be the difference in the Bulls winning or losing Game 1.
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