It’s simple, Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals is the biggest game of the 2011 Bulls season. A win, and the series becomes a three game series with the Bulls holding home-court advantage. A loss, and the Bulls are forced to win three straight games, an unlikely feat against the mighty Miami triumvirate. With the Heat winning the last two games, many have started to pematurely write off the Bulls. It’s easy to forget the Bulls’ dominate Game 1 victory, or the fact that the Bulls were very much in Games 2 and 3 before the Heat made 4th quarter runs to pull away.
As it has been all season for the Bulls, their fate will be determined by the production of Derrick Rose. In the 4th quarters of Games 2 and 3, Rose’s play was far from MVP-like. Over the last two fourth quarters, Rose had four points on just six shots. Rose needs to be more aggressive in the fourth quarter, driving to the hoop for layups and drawing fouls. The Bulls just simply will not win if Rose continues to be passive in the fourth.
The Bulls could also use some offensive help from their 2-guards. Against the Pacers and Hawks, and in game 1 against the Heat, the Bulls were getting solid 3-point production from Keith Bogans and/or Kyle Korver. Bogans and Korver have combined for just four made 3-pointers the last two games. The Bulls need one of them to get hot from beyond the arc tonight to keep pace with the Heat offense.
One more thing, I really don’t like hearing people say that the Bulls are just too young, and that they’re a year away from truly being a title contender. It’s bullshit. The Bulls can win now, and most likely, they are in better shape to win this year than they will be next year or the year after. Yes, the Bulls need to add a scoring 2-guard. I hope it happens, they will be a better and more complete team if they do. And I’m sure Foreman/Paxson will be trying their hardest to make it happen, but it won’t be easy since they don’t have much extra cash to spend this offseason. My main point is that the Heat will only get better in the years to come. Wade/James/Bosh will get better as a threesome as they play more games together, and their supporting cast can only get better. For the majority of the season, the Big 3 was surrounded by corpses in basketball jerseys. Just getting a healthy Udonis Haslem back in Game 2 improved the Heat’s play drastically. The Heat are at their most vulnerable this season and the Bulls have to take advtange. It all starts with a victory tonight in Game 4.