Bulls and Heat prepare for another


Apr 19

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or their Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

These so called big national TV No. 1 vs No. 2 games can get confusing because no one in charge says they mean anything.

Yes, Derrick Rose is out again for Thursday’s rematch in Miami, which we expected. Luol Deng is back playing, but the Heat surprisingly kept Chris Bosh out with Dwyane Wade returning.

“This is a good opportunity against a team that is ahead of us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game. “The players look forward to it, (but) it really is about us, particularly with how we’ve been playing. The standings are something we’re aware of, but I think the players have a proper perspective about it. Our priority was creating an identity that we can play consistently to. We feel like we’re getting into a better place.”

It was starting to sound like an old Saturday Night Live routine.

The game does mean something. There’s home court advantage on the line for the playoffs, which you’d think would matter to the Heat given they’ve had difficulties winning on the road this season. And then you figure everyone would want to open the playoffs against the sliding No. 8 team, likely either Philadelphia or Milwaukee as opposed to the Knicks, who have been hot. And then get presumably the Boston/Atlanta winner which looks like four/five now.

If the Bulls were to win Thursday, they’d clinch the best record in the East. But if Miami were to win, the Bulls would probably have to win out to do so.

Plus, where’s the competitive spirit? Don’t you want to beat your rival? Don’t you want to show you can and have that confidence even if it didn’t matter that much after last regular season? Don’t competitors just want to compete and win anymore?

“I don’t want us to change our approach,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. “You approach your games the exact same way every single day all season. They all carry the same weight. If you start looking at those other things, that’s when you have a misstep. You prepare the same way: Study your opponent, concentrate in your walkthrough, warm up well, understand what your job is and what you’re trying to accomplish that night. If you’re doing the right things, the results take care of themselves. It’s the next game. That’s all. It’s a great game for us. They’re a great team so we can measure ourselves to see where we are. We want to continue on with what we started a long time ago, which is improve each day. Every game reveals something to you. You begin with the end in mind. You want to be playing your best at the end of the season and as healthy as possible. It usually comes down to the end, one or two plays is the difference. You have to be able to persevere, fight through things. There will be times things are going your way and times they are not. You have to stay the course, keep battling and find a way to win.”

Oh, well, I tried.

What do you think? Leave a comment below: