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.