The truth about the Chicago Bulls finally comes out, now that the team faces an opponent with an elite defense and some scoring power: the Bulls have trouble scoring points. The Miami Heat's defense is among the best in the league, and has been all season. That's typically ignored -- the lack of consistency at center (the most important defensive position) and point guard (pretty important, as well) pushed the narrative that Miami was a questionable defense; the fact that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade -- two of most versatile and excellent perimeter defenders in the world -- were around seemed irrelevant.
But James and Wade have played prominent roles in the Heat defense against Derrick Rose and the Bulls. Miami is hedging hard on Rose, showing him two faces when he has a live dribble. That results in offense outside the flow, and limited Rose dribble-drive opportunity. It's choking Chicago at the neck.
That's part of the reason Chicago is struggling to shoot effectively -- they just aren't getting easy shots. The Bulls' offense was actually iffy against the Indiana Pacers in the first round, and no great shakes for most of the series against the Atlanta Hawks. But against the Pacers, the Bulls didn't have to worry about keeping pace -- there was no Indiana would run up a big number on the Bulls' own defense. Against Atlanta, Chicago knew it could score ... eventually.
But the dual concerns Miami presents has been just too much.
Chris Bosh was the superstar scorer in Game 3, dropping 34 on Carlos Boozer's glistening head. Expect Joakim Noah to take over Bosh duty; Boozer has two good defensive skills: rebounding and giving hard fouls. Given Chicago's excellent bench -- especially in the frontcourt, with Omer Asik, Taj Gibson and somewhere-down-there Kurt Thomas -- Boozer shouldn't hesitate to make Miami feel it. The problem with moving Noah onto Bosh is that Boozer isn't nearly the help defender that Jo is. So, again, he'd have to make up for it by attempting to deter Heat penetration in other ways.
Game 4 tips at 8:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday on TNT. Visit our Heat vs. Bulls hub for full series coverage. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Bulls, visit Blog a Bull and SB Nation Chicago.