Following a dramatic Game 7 win over the Brooklyn Nets to conclude the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Chicago Bulls continued to defy the odds by posting a 93-86 win over the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the conference semifinals.
The win over the Heat was an impressive one to say the least, but there is still room for improvement. That being said, here are the areas Chicago needs to focus on in looking ahead to Game 2.
Careless ball-handling is never a positive, but this especially holds true against a team like the Heat.
Chicago turned the ball over 16 times in Game 1 and Miami turned those miscues into 22 points.
One of the reasons why the Bulls came on top in this game was because they forced Miami to run its offense in a half-court set for most of the evening.
But if Chicago continues to commit turnovers at a high rate, it will play into the opponent’s favor as the series progresses because Miami is a team that thrives in an uptempo style game.
Boozer averaged 19 points and 15 rebounds in the four meetings against the Heat during the regular season.
However, he was a non-factor for Chicago in Game 1 and that is putting it mildly. Not only did he struggle with handling the ball, he also scored just six points on 3-of-11 shooting from the field.
While Joakim Noah has played well for the Bulls over the last few games, he will need some help providing the team with inside scoring and that is where Boozer will need to step up.
Continue to shut down Heat’s role players
LeBron James is the league’s Most Valuable Player for the fourth time in five seasons, so his stat line of 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists should not surprise anyone.
Dwyane Wade, who is a good player in his own right, chipped in with 14 points (7-of-16 shooting), four assists and three steals.
In looking at the remainder of the box score, though, it is difficult to miss that no other Heat player scored in double figures.
What this proves is that in spite of the efforts of its superstar players, the Heat cannot solely rely on them to win games against a very motivated Chicago team.
If the Bulls can continue to make James and Wade work for their points, while containing the effectiveness of Miami’s perimeter shooters, not only will they win Game 2, but they will also have a good chance of winning the series as well.