CHICAGO (CBS) There was a huge difference for the Chicago Bulls between the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals, and not just in the end result.
The Bulls dominated the Miami Heat in Game 1 and cruised to a 21-point win, largely thanks to a big second half run. Game 2 saw Chicago struggle down the stretch and lose by 10 points.
Here are the keys to Bulls’ victory in Game 3:
40% From The Floor
-In their Game 2 loss, the Bulls held Miami to 85 points, well under their regular season average, but still lost. Chicago shot 34.1 percent from the floor, and 61 percent from the free throw line. In the five matchups between the Bulls and Heat this season, the Bulls have shot at least 40 percent from the floor four times, and in each of those game they knocked off the Heat. If the Bulls had shot 40 percent from the floor in Game 2 of this series, they would have scored at least 10 more points, tying the Heat at 85 points. The Bulls will get plenty of opportunities to score, they just need to convert on at least 40 percent of them.
Crash The Boards
-Defense and rebounding are two of Tom Thibodeau’s cornerstones. Chicago played solid defense in Game 2, but were outrebounded 45-41 by the Heat. Four rebounds might not seem like a lot, but when you look at it as four extra possessions for Miami or four fewer possessions for Chicago, the difference is magnified. Look for the Bulls, and players like Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Omer Asik specifically, to be even more aggressive crashing the boards than they usually are.
MVP, MVP, MVP
-Derrick Rose was the most dominant and exciting player in the NBA this season, and as a result was the youngest player in league history to be named MVP. He’s carried the Bulls all the way to the Eastern Conference finals by almost effortlessly getting to the rim night in and night out. The Bulls have the chance to take back home-court advantage with a win on Sunday night. For Chicago to do that, they’ll need Rose to, as he has all season, be the best player on the court. That’s no easy task against the Heat, but Rose has done it before and anyone who has watched him play knows he can do it again.