CHICAGO (CBSMiami.com) – Forty-eight hours after getting beaten like the end of a ketchup bottle, the Miami Heat are in a must-win situation in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Chicago Bulls.
The Heat’s Big Three of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh ended up being the Big 1 and Wade and LeBron. Chris Bosh played well shooting 67 percent from the field, 100 percent from the free throw line and finishing with 30 points and 9 rebounds.
But the bigger story for Heat fans was the abysmal play of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in Game 1. Wade and James shot a combined 12 for 29 for the field and scored 33 points. As anyone who watched the game can attest, that’s simply not going to cut it.
It does reveal the Bulls’ game plan for dealing with the Big Three. The Bulls are more than happy to let Bosh score 30-40 a game as long as LeBron and Wade don’t get in a rhythm. But, the Bulls are not an unbeatable team by any stretch of the imagination.
The Bulls got a combined 35 points from Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer. Plus, the Bulls dominated on the offensive boards by grabbing 19 to the Heat’s 6. Essentially, the Bulls played the best they possibly could in Game 1 and the Heat played as poorly as they possibly could.
The Bulls’ defense was great in Game 1, but now comes the hard part for the Bulls. The Heat is humiliated, angry, and now sees the Bulls’ game plan. The team will have spent three days practicing and watching film to find new ways to attack.
But the Heat needs to have a better plan with their rotation of players. While it’s a given that Joel Anthony, James Jones, and Mario Chalmers will get solid minutes; the Heat need to decide if they want to throw another big man at the Bulls.
The Heat can’t count on Udonis Haslem giving them any more than 5-10 minutes a game and he’s still not in good enough shape to really make a big difference. So, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra will have to decide if starting Zydrunas Ilgauskas or Jamaal Magloire will help out by bringing Joel Anthony off the bench as a sparkplug to the team.
But the biggest hurdle for the Heat is quite simple. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have to play better. It’s not just about scoring either. Both players have to play better on the defensive end and in transition for the Heat to have any chance of winning.
The Heat also absolutely have to crash the boards, even if it does slow down the team’s transition game and cut down on fast break points. If the Heat can cut down on the Bulls’ second-chance points, the game will be completely different in Game 2.
In addition, the Heat has to rotate to the ball faster on the defensive end of the floor. It will probably mean less double-teams can be utilized, but the team has to keep a hand in Deng and Boozer’s face throughout the game or run the risk of both of them killing the Heat again.
Still, LeBron and D-Wade are not going to play that poorly in back-to-back games. If both players show up ready to play in Game 2, then it should be a strikingly different game in Game 2.
And, if the Heat can walk out of Chicago with a victory in Game 2 and bring the series back to Miami tied at one game apiece; then the Heat are in the driver’s seat.
On the flip side, if the Bulls take a 2-0 lead in the series after Game 2, then the Heat is in deep trouble and will face very long odds of making it past the Eastern Conference Finals.