Two teams without their starting point guards face elimination on Wednesday. Both the Chicago Bulls and the Oklahoma City Thunder appear to be physically beaten down by that fact. Now it's a matter of whether they'll mentally cave.
For the Bulls, it's been a long time coming as the drawn-out return of Derrick Rose has fizzled out, and they find themselves down 3-1 to the Miami Heat heading into Wednesday night's 7 p.m. ET tip in the United Center. Though the Heat have not seen the best from MVP LeBron James and have watched as guard Dwyane Wade struggled with problematic bone bruises in his knee, it hasn't had much trouble in wearing down the Bulls. Chicago fought hard by stealing Game 1 and playing tough in Game 3, but Games 2 and 4 displayed how superior Miami is in terms of firepower.
Game 4 saw Miami's defense lock down as well. Erik Spoelstra's squad matched the Bulls' physicality and grind-it-out style, while Chicago's tired legs got the best of them in an 88-65 loss where they shot a miserable 25.7 percent from the floor.
Meanwhile in a similar situation to Chicago's, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant has done everything in his power to prevent losses in the second-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies. But Oklahoma City hasn't been able to find answers in replacing point guard Russell Westbrook, who is out for the season with a knee injury.
The Thunder find themselves down 3-1 to the Grizzlies and begin their bid to avoid elimination on the road in Memphis at 9:30 p.m. Durant and Co. have been learning to how deal without Westbrook on the fly, but so far they've only learned how important the enigmatic and electric leader was to them on the court.
Memphis has ridden its "grit-and-grind" mantra by punishing the Thunder in the paint with Marc Gasol, who hasn't scored less than 20 points in a game this series. The Grizzlies have run off three straight victories after Oklahoma City took Game 1. They came back from 17 down to force overtime and take Game 4, 103-97, a crushing blow to a Thunder team that for the first two quarters finally appeared to have found their offensive mojo.
|Bulls at Heat||7 p.m.||TNT|
|Grizzlies at Thunder||9:30 p.m.||TNT|