AKA: Game Four HYPE
I liked what Ricky O'Donnell wrote at the start of this post at the new (and improved) SBN Chicago after game three:
Chicagoans have never been accused of being short on civic pride, with buzzwords like 'grit', 'toughness', and 'resilience' serving as a sort of unofficial syllabus for so many local sports fans who champion this city's blue collar. Those values are passed onto our athletes, no matter where they're imported from. It's all kind of silly, mind you, but I can't help but think this unwritten code is buried somewhere deep in the heart of these Eastern Conference Finals. Miami is the perfect foil for our great city in so many ways: their sports fans show up late, bail when the bandwagon isn't hot, and simply just don't *care* as much as Chicago does, as if any metropolis could.
Such ideals are said to be embedded in each of these teams, too. The Bulls have been lauded all year for their old school, defense-first approach, and their ability to grind out wins. The Heat? A bunch of mentally fragile jokers who are more concerned with their suntans than offensive sets. But if one thing became clear in Miami's Game 3 victory over the Bulls, it's that these Heat aren't nearly as brittle as Chicago would like to believe. It appears Miami isn't going to sabotage itself any time soon in this series. Time for the Bulls to turn to Plan B.
It just serves as a reminder that the Bulls chances of winning this series aren't augmented by some kind of divine right out of being the 'grimy', 'more complete', 'properly constructed', 'less full of insufferable turds' team. The Heat are an NBA team like the Bulls, and the Bulls simply have to be better than them.
The past couple games have raised some serious issues, but here's a link dumpage of ways they can be rectified.
- John Schuhmann (NBA.com)
- Arnovitz and Haberstroh (ESPN.com)
- Tom Ziller (SBNation)
- Bradford Doolittle (Basketball Prospectus)
- Zach Lowe (SI.com)
- Kurt Helin (ProBasketballTalk)
Omer Asik didn't practice today and may not go tonight, opening the door for Kurt Thomas. Thomas has a unique ability amongst Bulls centers in that he can hit a jump shot. But even after the countless times he's helped the Bulls win games this year, it's tough to expect much given that he's ancient and hasn't played in 20 days.
Derrick Rose promised...the usual stuff he always says. I'm not doubting his ability to have a fantastic game tonight, but that's because he's great, not because he said he will. I think we can stop simply believing such things on faith alone after game three.
I hate 'must-win' talk, but no getting around the daunting statistical and emotional odds the Bulls could be facing if they drop tonight's game. I do expect a great Bulls effort, but effort alone won't be enough, they have to find a way to play better.
Game Thread at 7:30.