Bulls anxious about stealing a game in Miami


May 22

With three days off in between games as the series shifts to Miami, Derrick Rose and the Bulls are more than eager to get back on the floor and reclaim homecourt advantage, which a win in one of the next two games would accomplish. And Rose believes they’ll be ready to do just that.

“I think that we’re well prepared for this game,” Rose said prior to the team’s Sunday morning shootaround at American Airlines Arena. “We’re all excited and we just want to play right now.”

Rose offered a simplified answer when asked what the Bulls needed to do to avoid another letdown along the lines of Game 2.

“Play harder,” Rose said. “That’s the biggest thing. All these games are won by who wanted it more, the will to win, and who fights the hardest.”

“When you lose, it’s tough to sit and wait,” said Bulls forward Luol Deng. “I think we’re ready to go out there and play. We’re excited and looking forward to it.”

The Bulls have not lost back to back games since early February, and Deng provided an explanation for the team’s ability to bounce back.

“We don’t like to lose,” said Deng. “Sometimes it’s human nature, when you’re knocked down, you get up a lot quicker. It’s how we feel when we lose. We’re disappointed we let one go and we want to get back on the right track.”

One key in doing so will be regaining the rebounding edge. The Bulls dominated that area in the team’s first four meetings this season, but slipped up in Game 2.

As Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau explained, winning the battle of the boards allows the Bulls to create fast break opportunities and attack the Heat defense before it is set.

“Often times these games come down to a hustle play here or a hustle play there,” said Thibodeau. “We’ve got to make sure we match that intensity and when the ball is up on the board, we’ve got to be in fight.

“The way we look at it is you finish your defense by rebounding the ball,” said Deng. “Towards the end of [Game 2], they got too many second looks. We’ve got to come up with those boards.”

Thibodeau was not pleased with the pace of Game 2, saying it eventually became a “walk it up the floor” style of game, which doesn’t favor the Bulls.

“I want us to play with pace and catch them in transition,” said Thibodeau. “I thought we settled for the three too much [in Game 2]. I want to make sure we have that balance of inside-out and if [Carlos Boozer] kicks it out, to give him a second look on the re-post and try to find some easy baskets for him in transition.

“I think it’s important for us to run late,” Thibodeau added. “We started off the game pushing, but we slowed down and we’ve got to continue to run throughout the game.”

If the Bulls are to win this series, they’ll have to win on the road. They did that in the regular season, certainly providing an edge in confidence heading into Game 3. And, at the end of the day, being in this predicament is nothing new for the Bulls.

“I know they’re going to come out with a lot of energy and excitement, but we’ve been there before,” said Deng. “We are the No. 1 [seed] and every time we play, teams get excited to play us.”

Defending Rose “like trying to contain a tornado”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called Derrick Rose a “catalyst” of the Bulls’ offense, acknowledging that a large part of Miami’s gameplan is on slowing him down.

“There’s no question about it that he generates a lot of their offense,” said Spoelstra. “He’s like trying to contain a tornado. It’s unpredictable. The explosiveness, all of that can break down your defense. And then it comes down to your instincts and making multiple efforts. Against a team like Chicago, who is such a great offensive team as well, you have to be relentless with your pursuits.”

Audio—Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s at Game 3 shootaround (05.22.2011):

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