Keys for Chicago Bulls to Force a Game 6 in Chicago

Daniel O'BrienFeatured ColumnistMay 13, 2013

Keys for Chicago Bulls to Force a Game 6 in Chicago

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    After getting methodically shellacked 88-65 in Game 4, the Chicago Bulls now trail the Miami Heat 3-1 in the conference semifinals, and they face a do-or-die Game 5 in South Beach.

    Nate Robinson was bottled up by Miami's defense, as he went scoreless in 32 minutes of play.

    It was part of a horrendous shooting night for Chicago:

    Bulls shot 25.7 percent from the field.They had never before even shot below 30 percent from the field in a playoff game.

    — ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 14, 2013

    The Bulls can't afford to deliver such a sloppy, stagnant performance in Game 5. Otherwise, they won't send the series back to the United Center for a Game 6.

    Who needs to step up for the Bulls, and who are the key Heat figures to exploit?

    Find out as we break down the keys for Chicago to regain its winning ways.

Revive Nate Robinson

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    Nearly every positive moment for the Chicago Bulls this postseason had Nate Robinson in the middle of it. That includes their Game 1 upset of the Heat last week.

    Their offense can't survive without his creativity, playmaking and energy. He's the one active player on the squad who's truly unpredictable and can get loose for scoring spurts.

    Game 4 was an embarrassing one for the speedy point guard, as he went scoreless on 0-of-12 shooting with four assists and four turnovers. Miami threw all sorts of help defense at him, and he crumbled.

    Moving forward, it's imperative for him to stay poised, make the easy plays and let the game come to him. If that means giving up the ball early and then working to get it back, then so be it.

    If he can get the ball into Noah and then use flare screens to get the ball back, he'll have a much better chance to catch, pump-fake and drive to the rim.

    Once he gets in the lane, his decisions, passing and shot-making ability will decide Chicago's fate.

Jimmy Butler Must Disrupt LeBron James

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    To keep Game 5 close and have a chance to win, Tom Thibodeau's bunch needs to make the contest physical.

    Not silly, extra-curricular physical, but grind-it-out physical.

    It starts with Jimmy Butler's approach against LeBron James. He was successful in disrupting James in Game 1, forcing the megastar into 8-of-17 shooting.

    Butler's absolute best defensive effort is necessary to keep LeBron in check. He must be smart and aggressive at the same time, forcing him to get rid of the ball early in possessions and steering him away from the paint.

    It's a lot to ask from a second-year player, but Butler has proved to be an elite defender this season, including solid stretches against King James. Limiting No. 6 to less than 25 points and seven assists will give his club a fighting chance.

Work to Get Noah High and Low Touches

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    Although the Bulls are an unselfish group and work hard away from the ball, offensive fluidity is something they've struggled with against the Heat.

    When Joakim Noah is unable to get touches and operate in the high post, Chicago's attack is considerably weaker.

    The difference between Game 1 and Game 4 is stark.

    Noah saw regular touches in Game 1, so he enjoyed 5-of-9 shooting, 13 points and most importantly, four assists. In Game 4, he shot 1-of-6 for six points and zero assists.

    Chicago must prioritize moving the ball laterally on the perimeter, then find Noah as he flashes to the post or dives to the block. At that point, it's up to Noah to make crisp passes and take strong moves to the bucket.

Prevent Penetration by Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole

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    Don't underestimate the impact of Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole.

    I'm not just talking about outside shooting. Their ability to drive the lane and operate along the baseline has helped trigger Miami's offensive flow.

    They might not make the back-breaking plays or the highlight slashes, but in Game 4, they were able to drive and start a chain reaction of ball movement that got Chicago out of position.

    For the Bulls, it's a matter of matchup pride and collective awareness. Each defender, including Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli, must take care of their assignment and make life difficult for Chalmers and Cole

    It's not going to show up in the box score, but Chicago will put itself in good position by disallowing any ventures by the supporting guards.

Get Marco Belinelli and Rip Hamilton Shots in Rhythm

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    The Chicago Bulls are substantially more respectable offensively when Marco Belinelli is clicking from deep.

    He struggled to find a rhythm in Game 4, going 0-of-5 from distance and finishing with nine points. Part of it was just poor shooting, and part of it was sloppy offense by the squad as a whole.

    Even though he's a reserve-caliber NBA player, the Bulls need him to be a starter-type scorer in Game 5.

    The onus is on Belinelli to dig deep for his best performance, and his comrades' responsibility is to help free him and set him up with accurate passes.

    Thibodeau would love to get two or three triples and a total of 12 to 15 points from him.