NBA Playoffs 2011: Why The Chicago Bulls Are Imploding Against the Miami Heat

Rich FernandesCorrespondent IMay 23, 2011

MIAMI, FL - MAY 22:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives for a shot attempt against Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 22, 2011 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls have all the tools they need to make this a championship season, with the exception of the collective fortitude of their team, to go along with their simple lack of effective offensive strategy.

And there is plenty of finger pointing to go around after Game 3, that has the Miami Heat surging at the same point the Bulls are falling apart, and as their Game 1 dominance becomes a distant memory.

After Game 1, the Heat deserve credit for making the required changes to contend with the Bulls, but Chicago deserves no credit for not bringing their "A" or even their "B" games to face the Heat.

In Game 2, both the Bulls and the Heat played the kind of decisively frugal defense they have become known for this season.  On the offensive side, the Bulls narrowly lost that game with a horrible offensive effort to answer Miami’s above average offensive play—the key word being narrowly.   

In Game 3, both teams followed the same recipe of Game 2, with the exception of a poor defensive performance from Chicago, and of course the Bulls will lose every single time they don’t bring either their offensive or defensive games, and especially when Miami does.

Carlos Boozer was the only bright spot for Chicago with an exceptional 26 points and 17 rebound double-double, but unfortunately, he had absolutely no supporting cast.  The confounding thing about Boozer is that even half of that kind of a performance would have meant a win for Chicago in Game 2. 

But unfortunately, that describes the constant discombobulation of Boozer’s game dating back to his Utah Jazz playoff days. 

It’s a boozer of a boozing thing, really—a player capable of superstar like performances to go along with lackluster games that put Vince Carter to shame.

Joakim Noah is showing that he can’t be a scorer due to his inability to throw anything but bricks.  And when a dominant rebounding center turns in only single digit rebounds, not to mention being outrebounded by four other players on the floor—you just have to look up at the sky, as you wonder if Noah’s ark is really the Titanic.   

Carlos Boozer and Noah take turns disappearing from games like they did when they both were injured during the season for lengthy stretches.  A combined effort in the same game from both these fringe superstars would have meant victory for the Bulls, giving them a 3-0 advantage over the Heat.

But no, when one does show up, the other believes it’s his right to take the entire night off by being visibly seen on the court in body only—a scene that should prompt a 911 call for an ambulance, in a desperate effort to save a life that appears destined for the spirit world. 

Derrick Rose is obviously trying, but he doesn’t know the difference between games where he should be the main point of distribution (pun intended) and games where he must step it up and take over the offense out of sheer necessity.

For Chicago to be successful, Rose must facilitate the Bulls offensive schemes with the goal of sparking his teammate’s offensive play—this is after all, a team sport.  In Game 2, he did not trust his teammates and tried to do it all by himself. 

As a result, the major problem for Chicago is that Rose has become much too predictable.

In games where his role as a point guard isn’t working to help those around him play better, Rose must resort to plan “B”, which means putting the team on his back, because the game is on the line—in essence, Game 3.   

Simply put, Rose needs to take a script from Steve Nash, Deron Williams or Chris Paul, and know when to be the facilitator, when to be the scorer or when it’s OK to be both. 

If Rose is unable to tell the difference of when he should turn on the scoring switch, the team should move him to shooting guard next season, because essentially, that’s exactly how he plays.  The Bulls ship appears to be rudderless without a point guard who knows how to act like one.

As a shooting guard, superstar Rose would be the best behind only Dwyane Wade.  As a pure point guard, Rose has the potential to be as good as Chris Paul.

Consequentially, when Rose is predictable like this, Miami’s double teams are doubly effective on his one-dimensional game, as evidenced when they limited Rose to just two shot attempts in the entire fourth quarter of Game 3. 

Becoming more of a facilitator with the ability to turn on the scoring explosion switch at will, and particularly when needed, Rose becomes the double threat himself. 

Of major consequence is Thibodeau, who is not directing like a Coach of the Year should.  Thibodeau needs to show Chicago and the rest of the NBA why exactly he won the Coach of the Year award, by mixing it up and guiding his team when they look like nothing more than a bunch of deer in the headlights. 

But unfortunately after three games of the Bull’s third-round playoff series against the Miami Heat, Thibodeau looks like one of the deer, or possibly even more like a lame duck.  

Finally, Chicago has Rose, Boozer, Noah, Deng and an amazing bench.  All are obvious keys to a successful playoff run to a title.  If only two of the stars plus the bench show up offensively in the same game (none did in Game 2, and only Boozer did in Game 3), the Bulls have a chance to win the game.

On the other hand, if every one of those Bulls show up, the Miami Heat will have no chance—even if Miami Thrice is at their best.

Who do you think is better:  Derrick Rose or Chris Paul? 

A debate between Ethan S. and Rich Fernandes


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