CHICAGO (CBS) The Chicago Bulls won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals by 21 points. Despite the rout of the Miami Heat, Chicago still only leads the series 1-0, and they’ll need to win Game 2 to preserve home-court advantage.
With two days of rest, and two days of preparation, the Heat are sure to be ready to amend the 103-82 loss in the opening game.
Here are the Keys to a Bulls’ victory in Game 2:
-The league’s MVP scored a “quiet” 28 points in Game 1. The Bulls’ domination stemmed mostly from the Bench Mob and from their rebounding. But Miami still has Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, who were held to a combined 33 points in Game 1. You can expect for Wade and James to come back with better performances in Game 2, and Rose can reduce their effectiveness by having a big offensive day of his own. Wade specifically can be hurt by an offensive explosion by Rose, as he tends to draw the Rose assignment on defense. The more active Rose is on the offensive end, the more Wade has to chase him around the court, and the less energy he’ll have when Miami has the ball. Not to mention Rose might be the best closer in the NBA, and when he’s on, he’s proved he can carry the Bulls.
Clean The Glass
-Chicago had a 45-33 rebounding edge in Game 1, and even more impressive was the Bulls’ 19 offensive rebounds. Rebounding basically comes down to positioning and hustle. With Tom Thibodeau running the show, you know those are two things the Bulls will excel at in every game. Chicago’s rebounding is a big key for them on every night, but even more so against the Heat. The way Miami is set up, they can’t compete with the Bulls’ forwards. The more defensive rebounds Chicago can grab, the fewer possessions James and the Heat will have, and it works the same when the Bulls are on offense.
-Chicago’s bench has been a huge advantage for them all season, and Game 1 was a perfect example of how effective they can be. Chicago’s bench outscored Miami’s 28-15, and chipped in long stretches of playing time so the Bulls’ starters could get their rest. There’s very little drop off from the first unit to the second, and players like Taj Gibson can energize the crowd and his teammates with posterizing dunks like we saw in Game 1. The more production Thibodeau gets from his bench, the more likely it is that he takes the Bulls to Miami with a 2-0 lead in the series.