On Tuesday night, the Miami Heat look to put on their best display of their killer instinct by stepping on the Chicago Bulls' throats and taking a commanding three games to one lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. Make no mistake, Miami is treating tonight as a must-win and they should be.
After all, if the Heat let a win slip through their fingers at home, all of the hardwork they put in last week to steal a game in Chicago ends up reaping no benefits. Homecourt advantage is in the Heat's possession right now and it's imperative that they do not let it go.
However, the Heat fully understand that it will be no easy task taming the young Bulls in game four. Chicago will be playing with unheralded energy because if they don't win tonight they realize their chances to play for a championship get a whole lot dimmer. LeBron James acknowledged this fact in game three's post game press conference, saying that Chicago is going to have the exact same mindset the Heat did going into game two.
Steal a game away from home and the series is back in your favor.
"There is not going to be one easy possession in this series," said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra when speaking on the importance of tonight's game.
In a nut shell, the Heat cannot afford to take any approach to this game other than a must-win.
Bulls Game Plan
Everything that's been said over the past two days is adding up to equal Chicago letting their young star Derrick Rose put them on their back. This could be a good or bad thing for the Bulls, but most likely bad.
There's been talk of less pick and rolls run for Rose and more isolation sets. Essentially, the Bulls will be hoping that Rose can replicate his effort of game four from the series against the Atlanta Hawks when he managed to put up 44 points and lead his team to a much needed victory.
If I were a Bulls fan I wouldn't be too crazy about this idea.
The Miami Heat are not the Atlanta Hawks by any means, especially on the defensive end. Should Rose try to take over and do it all himself, he will most likely end up forcing bad shots and making ill-advised decisions. We've already seen a few glimpses of that this series.
James and Wade have locked down the perimeter on defense all series long and the Heat's post defenders have done great jobs keeping Rose out of the paint. There haven't been many easy shots for the MVP in the first three games, especially in the paint, where he has been so successful all year long.
If Chicago wants to win this game they simply need more production from their role players. Carlos Boozer must get going and Loul Deng needs to be more productive in every way. It also wouldn't hurt if Kyle Korver could start hitting a few three's.
Remember, the Bulls have yet to shoot higher than 42 percent in the three games of the Eastern Conference Finals. That's most likely going to need to change if Chicago wants to have any shot at evening this series before heading back to their homecourt.
Miami Looking for More of the Same
On the other hand, the game plan for the Miami Heat is very simple – do exactly what they've been doing for the past two games. That is, playing excellent team basketball, swinging the ball on offense and playing lockdown defense.
If Miami succeeds at replicating their performances of games one and two, they should have no problem taking game four and improving their home playoff record to 8-0. It's easier said than done, of course, but the concept is simple.
Look for Miami to continue to focuse their defensive effort on Rose, who they've managed to hold to just 39 percent shooting thus far in this series. However, they must also be careful to not fall asleep on Chicago's role players as they are more than capable of stepping up at any time.
Offensively, the Heat will need James to continue with his strong play and another at least strong game from Chris Bosh. They also need more out of Wade, who hasn't really played all that great on the offensive end this series.
Miami must also avoid unforced turnovers, something Wade had much too many of in game three. The more turnovers, the more opportunities for Rose to get out on the run in the open court.
And Heat fans know that's not a good thing.
When it's all said and done, I believe the Miami Heat will not let up and proceed to take a three games to one lead over the Chicago Bulls. Although Chicago will come out with incredible energy, it's a safe bet to think the Heat, especially the big three, will probably come out with just as much, if not more energy.
Although the outcome is unsure at this point, it is clear that tonight will be a great one. Get your popcorn read, folks.
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