Bulls ready for whatever Miami throws at them

  • Bulls center Joakim Noah celebrates after a dunk during Sunday's Game 1 victory over the Heat at the United Center.

    Bulls center Joakim Noah celebrates after a dunk during Sunday's Game 1 victory over the Heat at the United Center. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Updated 5/18/2011 10:37 AM

The Bulls are 4-0 against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat this season. Maybe the Bulls just haven't seen the so-called Heatles yet when they're really mad.

So what should they expect heading into Wednesday's second game of the Eastern Conference finals at the United Center? Derrick Rose isn't sure.


"I really don't know what's going to happen," he said Tuesday at the Berto Center. "Especially in the playoffs, you really don't know what's going to happen until the ball's in your hands and you see what's going on the first play.

"Other than that, we know we have to come out with a lot of intensity."

The Bulls know with absolute certainty that Miami has the star power to be a dangerous opponent. But they should also be able to handle anything the Heat throws at them in Game 2. Here are some possibilities:

An intense start

Against Atlanta in the second round, whether or not the Bulls got off to a fast start usually dictated how the entire game would go.

The matchups with Miami have been different. The Heat's Power Trio usually is pumped up for a fast start. In all three games when Miami had its full lineup against the Bulls, it led after the first quarter. James sat out the first meeting Jan. 15.

In Game 1 on Sunday, the Heat opened the scoring with dunks by Wade and James, and took its biggest lead at 19-11.

But when the Bulls' defense settles in, it tends to wear Miami down. After scoring 48 points in the first half of Game 1, the Heat had 34 in the second half.

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The same thing happened in the regular season. In all four games between these teams, the Heat scored at least 10 fewer points in the second half than it did in the first. Miami averaged 51 points by halftime, 38 the rest of the way.

"I think we made good adjustments against them," Luol Deng said. "We haven't started well against them, but as the game went on, like last game, when we went in the locker room at halftime, the thing we discussed the most was turnovers and them getting layups.

"We really focused on that. We played them half-court. We just said, 'Let them see our defense' and it worked out for us."

The Bulls actually have scored more points in the second half of every game against the Heat (51 average) than in the first half (45).

Changing lineups

The Heat can shuffle centers, rotate point guards and trot out several long-range specialists. However coach Erik Spoelstra chooses to do it, Miami is still three stars and a bunch of guys who rarely touch the ball.


The Bulls' perpetual rebound advantage figures to be there regardless, because it's as much a function of the big guys looking to help against Derrick Rose as it is the simple inability to get a body on Joakim Noah and friends.

The Heat played Joel Anthony and Jamaal Magloire at center in Game 1, while former starters Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Erick Dampier were inactive. Miami also could turn to veteran Udonis Haslem, who went out with a foot injury Nov. 20 and made two brief appearances since.

The Bulls dominated the offensive rebounds 19-6 in Game 1.

"It's not about bigger bodies. It's just about wanting the ball," Miami's Chris Bosh said Tuesday. "Collectively as a team we have to do a good job of keeping bodies on those bigs, containing the screen and roll with D-Rose and doing our job the way we're capable of.

"We've done it all season. We just have to capitalize tomorrow.

"I was always looking for the answers to the rebounding and all that stuff. A dude just told me go get the ball one day. It made sense. It's all about having the will to go do it. You have to be a bit of a maniac."

Spoelstra split point-guard duties evenly between starter Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers. Chalmers and James Jones were the only supporting cast members to make a 3-point basket.

"You float with it," LeBron James said. "We've had enough minutes with every lineup as far as who has been the starting point guard and who has been the starting center, we can be comfortable with it when it happens."

Feel the burn

The most obvious adjustment Miami has talked about is bringing more intensity. As mentioned above, quick starts often flame out against the Bulls. But if Wade and James are both at their best, it's bad news for any opponent.

The Bulls have beaten the Heat with Wade scoring 33 and 34 points. They also won when every member of the Power Trio scored at least 20.

A little more ball movement is what Miami's offense craves the most. When Wade or James holds the ball and dribbles down the shot clock, the Bulls' defense is working.

"We've built up tremendous habits as a tough, physical, defensive team that rebounds the basketball all season long," Spoelstra said. "We did not do that the other night. Now it's our turn to bounce back."

"Our job is to come up here and steal homecourt advantage and win one game," Wade added. "We didn't do that in Game 1. We have an opportunity to do it in Game 2. That's our focus."


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