CHICAGO (CBS) It’s the matchup that basketball fans dreamed of once the Chicago Bulls established themselves as a legitimate title contender back in the regular season.
On Sunday, the first game of the Bulls-Heat matchup will take place at the United Center. After ending the regular season with the NBA’s best record, the Bulls have home-court advantage for a series that has no shortage of story lines, and could likely go seven games.
Here are the keys to a Bulls’ victory in Game 1:
Business As Usual On The Defensive End
-When Tom Thibodeau was hired as the Bulls head coach, he brought with him a defensive-focused approach. It’s that approach, and the play of Derrick Rose, that has got the Bulls to this point. The Heat have averaged 102.1 points per game this season. In their three regular season matchups, the Bulls held Miami to 96, 89 and 86 points, respectively. All three of those regular season games were won by the Bulls.
Keep Your Composure
-This is the biggest series any member of the Bulls has ever played in, and the biggest series the city of Chicago has seen since the Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen won an NBA Title in 1998. The atmosphere at the United Center is sure to electric, but the Bulls have been successful all season, largely, due to their ability to stay focused. Rose and company will need to come out and keep their composure so they can effectively execute the gameplan drawn up by Thibodeau.
-With Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, the Heat are basically a three-man team. The Bulls, on the other hand, can go 10 players deep without skipping a beat. Chicago’s second unit of Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson, Omer Asik and Taj Gibson will play a huge role in this series. Chicago can put tremendous pressure on the Heat if the Bench Mob can maintain or expand leads, or maintain or cut deficits when the Bulls’ starters head to the bench.