NBA Playoffs 2011: Key Changes the Chicago Bulls Need to Make to Beat Miami Heat
After playing a brilliant second half of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Chicago Bulls have struggled to generate any offense or stop the Miami Heat as they lost Games 2 and 3 of the series.
The Bulls will have to make drastic changes on both sides of the ball if they want to win the series and advance to the NBA Finals.
Here are five key changes that the Bulls will need to make to give them a chance at winning the series.
Fix the Pick-and-Roll
Every time the Bulls run a pick-and-roll, Derrick Rose gets double teamed at the top of the key, with nowhere to go.
The Bulls need to switch up their personnel when running the pick-and-roll, because Joakim Noah's 1 point performance in Game 4 shows that the Heat aren't afraid of what he can do.
Kurt Thomas provided a boost for the Bulls for much of the year while Noah and Carlos Boozer were sidelined due to injuries. Thomas's .511% shooting percentage will be a big boost for the Bulls who are shooting sub-40% in the series.
Thomas would provide an instant pick-and-pop threat with Derrick Rose as he is the Bulls best outside shooting big man. He can knock down a 15-17 foot jump shot, which could be a huge asset for the Bulls.
Get Taj Gibson More Playing Time
Taj Gibson's name is being talked about all around the country because of his monster dunk on Dwyane Wade in Game 1, but that isn't the only thing that people should be talking about.
Gibson has emerged as a 2nd half scorer, quality defender, and spark-plug for the Bulls. He is averaging 9.3 points per game in the series in just under 19 minutes again, while shooting an impressive .619% from the floor.
We all know that the Bulls dished out the $75 million to Carlos Boozer this summer, but aren't we ready to swallow our pride and play the big man that can play some sort of defense and still maintain an offensive game?
Get Deng More Involved
We all know that Lebron James is one of the premier defenders in the NBA, so the Bulls need to do their best job to not make it easy for him.
The Bulls need Luol Deng to step up, and the best way to do this is to get him moving. Deng plays his best when he catches the ball in motion and is slashing towards the hoop.
In the past two games, the Bulls have let Derrick Rose run around for 15-20 seconds and then throw the ball to a motionless Deng in the corner. Deng has improved his corner jump shot, but that shot will not be open for long with a defense as fast as the Miami Heat's.
When Deng stays still in the corner, it allows James to cheat and play the passing lanes, which leads to easy steals and buckets. With Deng moving and Lebron having to pay more attention to him, Rose will have an easier time facilitating the offense.
Show Some Heart
Keith Bogans chirped at Dwyane Wade. Taj Gibson talked some smack to Chris Bosh. Other than that, the Chicago Bulls seemed like a team scared of the Miami Heat in game 3.
The Bulls have worn teams down all year by playing competitive, hard-nosed, physical basketball. Now it's the Miami Heat that are diving for loose balls, winning the energy battle, and dictating the pace of the game.
The Bulls need to play the brand of basketball that they are accustomed to playing. If the Bulls start showing heart and the desire to win, the series will take a big swing in Chicago's favor.
I'll say it again, where's Kurt Thomas? He was there to throw the hard fouls against the Pacers, where is he now?. Can we get more old school, "no easy buckets" basketball back?
Let the MVP Do His Thing
There is no point guard in basketball that can stop Derrick Rose's combination of speed, quickness, strength and finishing ability. When I say no point guard in basketball can stop him, that includes Mike Bibby.
The Bulls need to clear out and let Rose go one-on-one with his defender. They have been crowding him with the pick-and-roll and not letting the point guard isolate like he was born to do. We are running our big men up high on a pick-and-roll, which is easy to defend with a high double-team. When Rose's shot isn't falling, it frankly isn't falling. That is why the Bulls shouldn't depend on Rose's outside jump shot, but rather let him get to the lane and do what he does best.
Rose was first-team All-NBA for a reason and that is his relentless attacking of the rim all season. The Heat don't have big men that intimidate Rose, but rather it is the Bulls offensive approach that is slowing him down.
Unless the Bulls add a shot-creating shooting guard by Wednesday night, we have to stick with Rose creating the offense.
The Heat's defense is fast, but nothing is Derrick Rose fast on a basketball court. Step aside, clear out and let Derrick Rose show the Miami Heat why he is the MVP of this league.