Heat Vs. Bulls, Game 3: Chris Bosh Scores 34, Miami Takes Series Lead With 96-85 Win

It was Chris Bosh, and not LeBron James or Dwayne Wade, who put up huge scoring numbers Sunday as the Miami Heat took a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.

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Bulls Vs. Heat: Tom Thibodeau Faces Tough Lineup Choices For Chicago

The Miami Heat's Game 3 victory over the Chicago Bulls showcased the tremendous starpower the Heat possess, something the Bulls can never match. Chicago's hope was that its depth would make enough of a difference to overcome that disadvantage, but the problem is that only five players can be on the court at the same time. Outside of Derrick Rose, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has some tough choices to make with his roster.

Nearly every player on the Bulls' roster outside of Rose and Luol Deng is either an offensive or defensive specialist. This means the Bulls can be tough to scout, since Thibodeau has so many different combinations he can use. On the other hand, as SB Nation's Bulls blog Blog a Bull notes, it also means there's a drawback to each of those combinations.

As Steve Kerr remarked during the game, Thibodeau has choices whether to go more offense or more defense, but there's a drawback to each. The Heat don't have that roster flexibility, but that also have two-way stars (Bosh is no great defender but is more capable than, say, Boozer) able to play a lot of minutes, and a supporting group that had a nice outing at home.    

This is the kind of problem that gets magnified in the playoffs, when there are no back-to-back games and when teams can more thoroughly scout each other. Thibodeau is under a lot of pressure to push the right buttons.

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Chris Bosh Winning Battle Against Carlos Boozer In Heat Vs. Bulls Series

When the Eastern Conference Finals series between the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls began, the key matchup was between often-maligned power forwards Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer. Three games in, and the Miami Heat forward has dominated. Bosh carried Miami to a Game 3 series win on Sunday night, scoring 34 points on just 18 shot attempts in a tremendous show of offensive efficiency. Boozer played well too, but it simply wasn't enough for the Bulls to overcome Bosh's explosion.

It's a trend that has continued throughout the series. Bosh and Boozer do not usually guard each other, as both teams use their centers as the primary defender on both players. That said, Bosh has been at his best when Boozer has been in the game. Via John Schuhmann of NBA.com:

60 of Bosh's points in series have come in Boozer's 92 min. on the floor (31 per 48). 14 have come in Booz's 52 min. on bench (13 per 48).    

A deeper look shows that when Bosh and Boozer are both on the floor at the same time (which is most of the time), the Heat are outscoring the Bulls by 8.1 points per 100 possessions. Perhaps it's time for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau to play backup Taj Gibson more and sacrifice Boozer's offense. 

Be sure to check out our Heat vs. Bulls hub for more on the series. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Bulls, visit Blog a Bull and SB Nation Chicago.

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Have Chicago Bulls Lost Faith In Three-Point Shooting Against Miami Heat?

Three key factors led to the Chicago Bulls' 21-point win over the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals a week ago: a huge advantage on the glass, massive turnover problems for Miami and deft three-point shooting for the Bulls.

The Heat's turnover issues weren't expected to last; the Bulls don't focus on playing the passing lanes and Miami is fairly sure-handed. The boards were an incredible concern; Erik Spoelstra responded by using Udonis Haslem more frequently, which has stemmed the bleeding some, but Miami is still letting Chicago own the offensive glass. (The Bulls had 13 in Game 3.)

But perhaps Chicago's regression from beyond the arc has been the biggest factor in Miami's two straight wins and 2-1 series lead. The Bulls were extraordinary from long-range in Game 1, shot like it in Game 2 but went cold, and decided to give up the three-pointer in Game 3. Take a look.

Bulls-threes-tz_medium

The Bulls went 10-21 in Game 1, mixing a high volume with a great efficiency level. Of course, the volume was in part dictated by the efficiency. Derrick Rose and Luol Deng were hitting their threes, so they kept shooting them. In Game 2, the strategy -- take threes to open up the interior for Rose and the Chicago big men -- continued. Unfortunately, the makes stopped, as Chicago shot just 3-20. (Kyle Korver was notably 1-7 in 16 minutes off the bench as Tom Thibodeau tied to find offense anywhere late. He's taken three three-pointers in the rest of the series.)

In Game 3, the Bulls stopped taking so many threes, despite shooting better; Chicago went 5-12 from long-range. By halftime, the Bulls had taken just five threes, hitting two. It's not all Chicago deciding whether these shots are taken -- Miami has done strong work challenging shooters, often making Deng or Rose put the ball on the floor or pass the ball around the perimeter as the challenger arrives.

It's worth noting that for the series, the Bulls are taking the exact same share of three-pointers as they did during the regular season, roughly one per every 4.6 two-pointers.

For more on the Bulls, visit Blog a Bull and SB Nation Chicago.

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Miami Heat Defense On Derrick Rose Killing Chicago Bulls' Offense

In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat again limited the Chicago Bulls to an awful offensive performance, just as was the case in Game 2. It's not a coincidence that Miami won both games, and is up 2-1 in the series. The Heat have put a stopper in the Bulls by cutting off the figurative head of the dragon, Derrick Rose. Rose had 21 points on 7-23 shooting in Game 2, and 20 on 8-19 shooting in Game 3. The biggest factor causing Rose's inefficiency in Game 3 was his lack of free throws; he had only three attempts from the line.

Limiting Rose has limited the Bulls. In Game 3 the Bulls scored 85 points in an estimated 82 possessions, for an offensive rating of 103.7, well below league and Chicago's season average. That was a wonderful improvement on Game 2 (91 offensive rating) but still not nearly enough. If Rose could have broken out, he had help; Carlos Boozer put up 26 (thanks to 12 free throws).

So what's stopping Rose? The Heat have two of the best and most versatile perimeter defenders in Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, which allows MIami to switch on picks and give Rose multiple defensive looks. The knock on both James and Wade as defenders is that they gamble a bit much, going for the steal or block. They've been pretty true against Rose, and have been important parts (with Joel Anthony, who had five blocks on Sunday) of help defense when Rose makes a break for the rim.

The key is to contain Rose by not fouling and by forcing him to pass or take jumpers. He's a great passer and a decent shooter, so he can still kill you if your successful; he's so quick and athletic that he can foil the best containment plans, too. But the Heat have done a strong job in the last two games, and have been rewarded with wins.

Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls haven't been known for their offensive adjustments throughout the postseason, but they'll surely come up with something to unlock Rose from his South Beach shackles. Then there's the whole matter of getting Chicago's worldly defense to stop Chris Bosh -- that's another challenge entirely.

Be sure to check out 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.

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Bulls vs. Heat, Game 3: Chris Bosh 'Just Wanted To Make Imprint On Series'

Chris Bosh went 13-of-18 from the field en route to 34 points, as the Miami Heat pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 96-85 victory over the Chicago Bulls in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

LeBron James added 22 points, 10 assists and six rebounds for the Heat, who built off their 85-75 win on Wednesday to take a 2-1 series lead. Dwyane Wade tallied 17 points and nine boards.

For Bosh, the game was a culmination of many things, not least of which was his desire to make a real impact on the series.

"I just wanted to make some type of imprint on this series," Bosh said afterward.

Looks like Carlos Boozer's "Big 2" knock before the series started was taken to heart by the third member of that troika.

Bosh and the Heat are now 7-0 at home in the playoffs. None of the other teams left in the playoffs are undefeated at home and only the 1996 Chicago Bulls have won an NBA title with a perfect home playoff record.

Be sure to check out our Heat vs. Bulls hub for more on the series. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Bulls, visit Blog a Bull and SB Nation Chicago.

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Bulls vs. Heat, Final Score: Bosh Scores 34 As Miami Takes 2-1 Series Lead Over Chicago

Chris Bosh went 13-of-18 from the field en route to 34 points, as the Miami Heat pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 96-85 victory over the Chicago Bulls in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

LeBron James added 22 points, 10 assists and six rebounds for the Heat, who built off their 85-75 win on Wednesday to take a 2-1 series lead. Dwyane Wade tallied 17 points and nine boards.

History is now on Miami’s side. Since 2006, when the Heat won their lone title, the winner of Game 3 of the East title series has advanced to the NBA finals every time.

Carlos Boozer finished with 26 points and 17 rebounds for the Bulls, who lost consecutive games for the first time since February 5-7. Derrick Rose donated 20 points, five boards and five assists.

Game 4 of the series will be Tuesday, also in Miami.

Be sure to check out our Heat vs. Bulls hub for more on the series. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Bulls, visit Blog a Bull and SB Nation Chicago.

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Bulls vs. Heat Score: Chris Bosh's Big Night Has Miami Ahead At End Of Third Quarter

Chris Bosh, of all people, has the Miami Heat in a good position heading into the fourth quarter of their Game 3 match-up with the Chicago Bulls. With 24 points, Bosh has the Heat up 68-65 after three.

LeBron James might not b putting up huge scoring numbers but he’s closing in on a triple-double with 12 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds. Dwayne Wade has 13 points and 8 rebound for Miami.

The Bulls are keeping pace thanks to Carlos Boozer, who has 21 points and 12 rebounds in a huge night so far. MVP Derrick Rose has 18 points while Loul Deng has added 12.

The difference right now is shooting as Miami (49%) is putting away just a few more baskets than Chicago (42%).

One quarter left for the East’s top seed to steal a game back against the Big Three.

Be sure to check out our Heat vs. Bulls hub for more on the series. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Bulls, visit Blog a Bull and SB Nation Chicago.

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Bulls Vs. Heat Score: LeBron James, Chris Bosh Putting Up Numbers

At halftime, the Miami Heat lead the Chicago Bulls 43-40, largely thanks to a strong half by the big three. Chris Bosh has a game-high 16 points, while LeBron James is more than halfway to a triple-double. Dwyane Wade leads all rebounders somehow with six, but has also turned the ball over thrice.

Derrick Rose has 11 points, but has needed 12 shots to get there, and has yet to serve up an assist. Carlos Boozer has nine points and five rebounds.

Both offenses picked up in the second quarter, with Miami now nearing 50 percent for the game. Chicago still isn't shooting all that well, but has given itself more opportunities despite Miami's free throw advantage.

Be sure to check out our Heat vs. Bulls hub for more on the series. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Bulls, visit Blog a Bull and SB Nation Chicago.

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Bulls Vs. Heat Update: Defense Setting Up Big Ten Final Score

The score at the end of the first quarter in Game 3 between the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat: 18-15 Heat. That puts us on pace for a 72-60 thriller, and I hope you really like defense. 

LeBron James leads all scorers with eight points, though can one say one really leads all scorers in a game without any actual scoring? A handful of guys on each team have four points each -- let's find a new stat.

Carlos Boozer and Dwyane Wade are your leading rebounders, with five boards apiece. There has been plenty of glass work to go around, of course, as each team is shooting well under 40 percent so far.

Be sure to check out our Heat vs. Bulls hub for more on the series. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Bulls, visit Blog a Bull and SB Nation Chicago.

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Heat Vs. Bulls, Game 3: Defensive Edge Gives Miami Advantage

With the Eastern Conference Finals shifting to Miami for Game 3, the Heat will look for the momentum from their Game 2 victory to carry over, but what else will be needed for a second straight victory? As Dan Le Batard writes in the Miami Herald:

The advantage Miami has in this series is this: The slim difference between the Miami and Chicago defenses, whatever it is, isn’t as large as the difference between the offenses.

As Le Batard points out, the Heat defense held Chicago to two baskets over the final seven minutes of the game, but does anyone expect Chicago to have another poor shooting night? With Games 1 and 2 each representing a different extreme, now seems to be as good a time as any for things to balance out.

But, perhaps more importantly, the key for the Heat has been that they are letting their play on the court speak for them, instead of those above them, as Le Batard notes out. Pat Riley, Heat owner Micky Arison and his son Nick and salary cap expert Andy Elisburg are all in the background right now. None wants to take the spotlight off their players, because it's not about them.

As for the Bulls, our blogger over at Blog a Bull isn't that worried entering Game 3:

As much as game two was disconcerting, it was a game Miami needed most, and it's not as if their home-court advantage is anything to be especially fearful of.

It's Miami that has all the pressure on it because of their collection of star players.

Be sure to check out our Heat vs. Bulls hub for more on the series. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Bulls, visit Blog a Bull and SB Nation Chicago.

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Heat Vs. Bulls, Game 3: Derrick Rose, Chicago Attempt To Wrestle Back Home Court Advantage

After the Chicago Bulls nailed the Miami Heat up with a 21-point win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, it seemed difficult to imagine the Heat stealing home court advantage with a Game 2; it seemed as if the Bulls were unbeatable at home, at least before Miami had time to "figure out" Chicago.

As it turns out, it took just 48 more minutes, as the Heat, led by a brilliant LeBron James, earned an 85-75 Game 2 victory. James outscored the Bulls himself in the final four plus minutes as Miami went on a 12-2 run to close the game. It wasn't so much that Miami needed to figure out the Bulls as just play better and take advantage of Chicago's start-and-stop offense.

Will that be the case in Game 3? The teams reconvene in South Beach on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, TNT) with the chance to move to a 2-1 lead. It seems as though this will be a tight, long series, and while the schedule has spaced the first few games apart, things will speed up and get more heated. Udonis Haslem caused havoc for the Bulls in Game 2, and Haslem creates havoc in a way that drives most mad. Expect the Bulls, or at least a Bull, to be driven mad (as in, angry) by Haslem's unique branding of bumping, clawing and fighting; familiarity breeds contempt.

While both teams are excellent defensively, we could use more offense in this series; Miami has finished in the mid-80s (roughly 100 offensive efficiency) in both games; Chicago had one second half breakout and one second half breakdown. We haven't seen the full power of Miami's offense, and while Chicago's is less spectacular in color it can be good again.

Be sure to check out our Heat vs. Bulls hub for more on the series. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Bulls, visit Blog a Bull and SB Nation Chicago.

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