NBA Playoffs 2013: Keys to Victory in Monday-Night Matchups
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After Monday night of the NBA playoffs, both the Chicago Bulls-Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies-Oklahoma City Thunder series will each either be tied at 2-2 or see a team take a commanding 3-1 lead.
Miami and Memphis prefer the latter.
Let's take a look at a key for each team playing tonight and what they can do to ensure a victory in a couple of pivotal Game 4's.
Miami Heat: Chris Bosh
They are called the Big Three for a reason.
The third cog in that machine, Chris Bosh, is crucial tonight for Miami, just as he was in Game 3. In that third game, Bosh scored 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting while collecting 19 rebounds.
His play is so dangerous because of his versatility.
Bosh can step outside and consistently knock down jump shots but also play down low and get physical with the likes of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer.
His dual-threat capability should draw one of those two big men out of the lane, allowing for plenty of penetration room for James and Wade.
If Bosh can rebound tonight like he did in Game 3, it will be a long night for the Bulls.
After not doing much of anything in the first two games of the series, Bosh showed in Game 3 that he cannot be forgotten. Look for the same Bosh to show up in Game 4.
Chicago Bulls: Bench scoring
Chicago's starting lineup can only do so much to keep them in games against the Heat.
While it may not show physically, the mental effects of four out of the five starters playing 40 or more minutes, as was the case in Game 3, are draining.
The starters need some help, and they need it quickly, before they head back to Miami in a 3-1 hole.
It needs to start tonight.
In Game 3, the Bulls' bench scored 8 total points, an unfathomable number for an NBA team in the playoffs, where depth is vital.
To be more specific about the Bulls' bench, it is Taj Gibson who needs to step up. In Chicago's Game 1 victory, Gibson added 12 points off the bench and was a critical component in the paint.
However, in Game 3, Gibson shot just 2-for-9 for six points.
If the Bulls want to tie this series, they will need more consistent production from the bench and, more specifically, Taj Gibson.
Memphis Grizzlies: Limiting fast-break points
As a defender, if you are backpedaling with Kevin Durant dribbling at you with a full head of steam, your best bet is to get out of the way or wrap him up.
The Grizzlies need to limit these dangerous moments in Game 4 tonight.
In Game 3, the Oklahoma City Thunder scored 23 fast-break points.
Memphis will need to slow OKC in transition in order to see this number decrease. This all starts with the first rule in basketball defending: stop the ball.
After a missed shot, it is important for one member of the Grizzlies to hassle the rebounder while the rest of the team hustles back on defense.
A good offensive rotation is also important. When a guard shoots a jumper or even drives the ball, the secondary guard on that possession has to be behind the three-point line at the center of the court to prevent an easy breakout.
Let the big men rebound the ball—that is their job after all.
While Kevin Durant seems invincible at times, the Grizzlies can slow him down by preventing relatively easy fast-break buckets.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant
It seems obvious, well, because it is.
Kevin Durant will be the key to every single game the Thunder play in the rest of the postseason.
After all, he is leading them in the playoffs in points per game (32.5), rebounds (8) and assists (6).
For Kevin Durant, however, his consistent scoring opens up options for other players. When Durant is knocking down jump shots he is impossible to defend because if a defender overplays him, he will blow by and finish strong around the rim.
If Memphis attempts to double team him, he seems to always find the open guy. Everything revolves around Durant.
He is also very important on the defensive end. In Game 3, we saw Durant matched up with Marc Gasol quite a few times.
Durant's length makes this matchup intriguing, but Gasol proved he can fade away and knock down jumpers, thus canceling out Durant's length.
KD is scoring at an overly impressive rate and this Thunder team will go as far as he takes them.
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