Game 2 rehash: Bulls need some shooters
With three days off until the Eastern Conference finals resume Sunday in Miami, the Bulls didn't practice Thursday.
This break provides a chance to take a second look at the Heat's 85-75 victory in Game 2 at the United Center which tied the series at 1-1.
The overwhelming story from Game 2 was Miami's defense being able to accomplish what the Bulls did in Game 1.
The Heat swarmed the ball, clogged the lane, took advantage of the playoff leniency toward physical play and made the Bulls settle for contested shots.
The Bulls actually took 14 more shots (82-68), 2 more free throws (26-24) and had 5 fewer turnovers than Miami in Game 2. But the accuracy was lacking, as the Bulls shot 34.1 percent overall and missed 10 free throws.
Great wall of Omer
It's hard to fault the Bulls' defense in Game 2. Tom Thibodeau's preferred fourth-quarter lineup of Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, Ronnie Brewer and Omer Asik was brilliant.
Gibson and Asik checked in midway through Miami's 10-0 run in the third quarter and Brewer joined the party one possession later.
From the time the Heat's 10-0 run ended with 3:20 left in the third to when LeBron James hit the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 4:26 remaining, the Bulls' defense was amazing. They allowed just 6 points in 11 minutes, with James never leaving the court.
Asik stonewalled Miami players at the rim whenever they tried to attack. Of the Bulls' issues in Game 2, the fourth-quarter lineup was not one of them.
Ball in the basket
The best way to attack an aggressive defense is through ball movement. The easiest ways to score when a team is clogging the lane are on the fastbreak or outside jumpers. Or free throws, but there weren't many of those being passed out in the fourth quarter.
Miami basically generated all the offense it needed with that fastbreak-driven 10-0 run in the third quarter, then James' 3 long jumpers late in the fourth. The Heat managed just 37 points in the second half, which the Bulls should have been able to overcome.
Why couldn't the Bulls score? They had just 2 fastbreak points in the second half and Miami did a nice job of getting back on defense. They also went 3-for-20 from 3-point range. Some of those shots were contested, others weren't.
The Bulls actually had a Udonis Haslem-style X-factor Tuesday. It was Taj Gibson again, who scored 8 of the 10 points in the fourth quarter.
The Bulls either need Rose to have a huge game or find a second starter who can score in the 20s. Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah each produced just 2 points in the second half of Game 2.
Not enough ball movement was one problem. Deng had 4 turnovers in the second half when he lost the ball after driving into traffic.
With Miami packing the paint, Boozer may find it difficult to score in the post, but a jump shot is also worth 2 points and he didn't hit any of those.
Kyle Korver, meanwhile, is just 3-for-15 from 3-point range in the last five games, 6-for-25 overall.
Basically, someone is going to have to knock down some jump shots against the Heat's defense. It could be Rose. He hit a couple jumpers late in the third quarter and shot 6 free throws after the Bulls fell behind by 11.
Rose's final points were a pair of free throws with 8:44 left. After that, he assisted on the 2 Gibson baskets that closed the scoring, but Rose will always be the Bulls' best scoring option down the stretch.
Should he take more jumpers, find ways to get fouled? When Atlanta sent two defenders at Rose, the Bulls had him pass the ball early, then get it back on the wing.
The Bulls can win in Miami -- and they didn't lose three games in a row all season. So this series is far from crisis mode, but the Bulls need to find some shooters soon.
"We're the type of team where when things get tough, we stay together," Rose said after Game 2. "Coach always talks about the playoffs are going to challenge you every way possible. We've just got to stick together and know it's going to be a fun series."