CHICAGO (CBS) The Eastern Conference finals couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for the Chicago Bulls, a 21-point rout gave Chicago a 1-0 series lead. But since that point, everything has gone the way of the Miami Heat.
Two consecutive losses and some controversy has sparked some panic among Bulls fans, but a win on Tuesday and the Bulls right the ship: evening up the series and taking back home-court advantage.
Here are the keys to a Bulls’ victory in Game 4:
The Real MVP
-Derrick Rose averaged 25 points per game in the regular season and 27.6 per game in the playoffs. But in the last two losses to the Heat, Rose has been under both of those averages, putting up only 21 and 20 points. Over that same stretch of games, last year’s MVP LeBron James has 29 and 22 points and has taken over games down the stretch. Chicago has relied on Rose to carry them all season long, and there’s not much hope for them if the Chicago-native isn’t able to do that on Tuesday.
-The last two games of the series have been double digit wins for Miami, but at halftime of each game, the Bulls trailed by two points in Game 2 and three points in Game 3. It’s been the second half that’s doomed Chicago. The good news is that this is a relatively new trend for the Bulls, so you would think that it’s something head coach Tom Thibodeau can correct before its too late. Thibodeau gave his troops the day off from practice on Monday, so hopefully fresh legs and a sense of urgency will lead to a complete 48 minutes of basketball.
Defense, Defense, Defense
-Defense has been the Bulls’ focus from the beginning of training camp. Along with rebounding, it’s one of the things that they do consistently well. Chicago limited the Heat to an average of 83.5 points per game in the first two of the series, but gave up 96 in Game 3. Rose can have a big game, the bench can contribute and the Bulls can finish strong, but if the they don’t play great defense, they could easily return to Chicago facing elimination.
What are your keys to a Game 4 win? Post your comments below.