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Sunday, May 05, 2013

Miami Versus Chicago Preview

Eastern Conference Second Round

#1 Miami (66-16) vs. #5 Chicago (45-37)

Season series: Tied, 2-2

Chicago can win if…the Bulls' defensive pressure forces the Heat to settle for long two point jump shots; the Bulls must keep the Heat--particularly LeBron James and Dwyane Wade--out of the paint while also tightly checking the Heat's three point shooters.

Miami will win because…LeBron James is on a mission; he plays multiple positions at both ends of the court, he has become amazingly efficient offensively and he attracts so much defensive attention that his teammates are able to shoot wide open jumpers and/or cut to the hoop for uncontested dunks/layups. Dwyane Wade has been hobbling for significant portions of the season and Miami has not even missed a beat. Chris Bosh is a very underrated player whose versatility is an important part of Miami's success. Pat Riley made a wise choice when he selected Erik Spoelstra as the coach and Riley has surrounded the "Big Three" with an excellent group of complementary specialists who rebound, defend and/or spread the floor by making three pointers.

Other things to consider: Chicago snapped Miami's 27 game winning streak: "The Bulls beat the Heat by attacking them in the paint at both ends of the court, by making timely fourth quarter shots and by never backing down mentally or physically. Is that the blueprint for winning a playoff series against the Heat? Of course it is--but the problem for Heat opponents is twofold: (1) not many squads have the coaching and/or personnel necessary to execute that game plan and (2) in order to eliminate the Heat a team must execute that game plan four times in a seven game series." If the Bulls had a fully healthy, non-rusty Derrick Rose and if Joakim Noah/Luol Deng/Kirk Hinrich were fully healthy then they would have a realistic chance to beat the Heat four times in seven games. Even as things stand now--with Rose apparently not returning to action this season and the statuses of Noah, Deng and Hinrich seemingly varying from game to game (though Noah appears to be getting healthier)--the Bulls will fight the Heat tooth and nail, possibly even winning two games, but it is difficult to picture Chicago pulling off the massive upset.

The Rose situation is very unusual. I cannot recall another example of any player--let alone a recent MVP--being cleared to play by the doctors, practicing without restrictions for several weeks and not even attempting to participate in the playoffs. I agree with TNT's Kenny Smith that Rose has a track record that must be respected and that we have to trust Rose's assertion that he is not yet ready to play but it is undeniable that if Rose suited up then he would have a big impact even if he could only perform at 50%-60%; the opposing defense would have to respect his presence, which would open things up for Rose's teammates. If Rose could play even just 20 solid minutes per game then this would increase Chicago's depth and return several players to their normal roles. It is difficult to figure out what exactly Rose means when he says that he will not play again until he is "comfortable." Until his recent knee injury, Russell Westbrook had not missed a game in the NBA, college or high school--and I doubt that he was fully "comfortable" every time he stepped on the court. I hope that Rose is not sitting out to preserve his statistics; Kobe Bryant has played on one leg or without the full use of an arm/several fingers because he knew that even in a reduced state he could still have an impact but he once said that other stars are reluctant to do such things because they don't want to hurt their scoring averages. If Rose is healthy enough to play then he should do so even if would just average 10 ppg in 20 mpg.

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posted by David Friedman @ 3:45 AM

11 comments

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11 Comments:

At Sunday, May 05, 2013 6:13:00 AM, Anonymous DanielSong39 said...

Rose will play next season.

As for this season, Chicago has about as much chance vs. the Heat as the Warriors have vs. the Spurs. Great game 7 win vs. Brooklyn, but this is where their run ends.

The only points of interest in my opinion is whether (1) the Bulls can avoid getting swept, and/or (20 the Bulls will take a page from the beloved Detroit Pistons and apply the "Lebron Rules".

Their chances basically hinge on whether Lebron gets hurt.

 
At Sunday, May 05, 2013 4:56:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

David,
Having suffered a torn acl myself, I can somewhat understand what Rose is going through. He has probably experienced some buckling which is normal but hurts confidence in the knee. It probably would have been to come back during the regular season where he could have eased into his comeback. There is no easing into anything during the playoffs.

 
At Sunday, May 05, 2013 6:23:00 PM, Anonymous JLK1 said...

The Rose situation is indeed baffling. It's difficult to discuss the issue without engaging in uninformed speculation or uninformed amateur psychoanalysis. We know that the Bulls have not ruled him out for the playoffs, and the Heat are saying publicly that they are taking a possible return into account.

As a part of his whole career this episode will likely not matter much, but if the Bulls can extend the series to 6 or 7 games there will be questions for years about what could have been for the 2012-2013 Bulls.

Jimmy Butler is #2 in minutes for the Bulls in the playoffs and has been a nice role player for them, shooting ~39% from 3 point range. Nate Robinson is shooting over 50% and averaging about 20 points per 36 minutes. The Bulls have relied on Robinson to do Derrick Rose's job of being a wellspring of offense, but Miami's quicker guards and faster rotations on the front line should give him a bit more resistance in this series.

The Bulls were a poor offensive team during the regular season, and I think the they will struggle to score and keep pace with Miami. The Bulls have to make difficult offense/defense tradeoffs with Boozer and Robinson. Miami held the Bulls to 67 points in one of their regular season meetings. To win games they'll need good scoring efforts from Boozer, Deng, and Robinson. Those three guys cannot have off nights.

 
At Sunday, May 05, 2013 10:46:00 PM, Blogger Awet M said...

I think Derrick Rose is being very careful with his body and his future, more than anything, more than some misplaced pride in statistics.

Plus I wouldn't pressure him to comeback at this point and adjust to playoff basketball after sitting out the entire season. A normal fan would want him to play to compete and give the team a chance to beat the Heat, but a realist knows that he's in for the long haul.

However, the skeptic in me says "look at Iman Shumpert, who suffered an ACL tear at the same time & came back in February. So what gives?" As a matter of fact, Shumpert hasn't looked like himself until very very recently.

Perhaps there's something behind closed doors nobody in the media knows anything about?

 
At Monday, May 06, 2013 4:52:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Daniel Song 39:

I certainly hope that Rose plays next season!

No, I get what you are saying--he just will not come back this season at all.

I will be surprised if the Bulls are swept.

 
At Monday, May 06, 2013 4:54:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Unknown:

Rose has been practicing full speed for several weeks, so it is strange that he has not yet played in a game. I am not accusing him of doing anything wrong; I am just saying that I cannot recall another situation like this, with a player being healthy enough to practice for an extended period of time without even attempting to play in a game.

 
At Monday, May 06, 2013 4:56:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

JLK1:

I am not engaging in accusatory speculation about Rose; I am merely noting that the situation is very unusual.

You are correct that the Bulls struggle to score at times and that they will need consistent production from the players you mentioned in order to have any chance against the Heat.

 
At Monday, May 06, 2013 4:59:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Awet:

I would not be surprised if something more is going on that has not yet been publicly reported, because if Rose is healthy enough to practice then it is reasonable to expect him to at least try to play--particularly when his team is so shorthanded.

 
At Monday, May 06, 2013 1:38:00 PM, Anonymous JLK1 said...

David,

To clarify, I wasn't speaking of you when I mentioned uninformed speculation. I think you offered a fair take based the limited information we have.

 
At Monday, May 06, 2013 3:29:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

JLK1:

Thank you.

I just heard Sam Smith say that Rose has not actually been cleared to play but he has only been cleared to practice. Others disagree with Smith's take.

For some reason, the Rose injury situation is much murkier than the injury situations of other players. I am not criticizing Rose, if for no other reason than I don't feel like I know the whole story--I just find it strange that it seems like he has been healthy for weeks and yet he has not even attempted to play. Smith offered a very passionate defense of Rose/attack against Rose's critics; I respect Smith a lot and he may very well be 100% correct but if Rose really is not physically ready to come back then the Bulls have not done Rose any favors by declining to make this very clear. The impression has certainly been presented that Rose is physically able to play and the decision to do so is up to him and not based on physical limitations; if that impression is wrong then the Bulls should clarify this and end all of the speculation.

 
At Wednesday, May 08, 2013 9:21:00 PM, Anonymous JLK1 said...

Just wanted to add this last article I found today:

http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2013/5/8/4311600/derrick-rose-chicago-bulls-injury-luol-deng-doctors

He suggests that the team doctors have a history of downplaying injuries, with potentially dangerous consequences. Could be something, could be nothing, but in an unusual situation like this one it's another factor to consider.

 

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