Yikes. After a dominating Game One performance, the Bulls have dropped the last two games to fall behind 2-1 in the series. The Game Two loss was slightly acceptable- the Heat were going to be fired up, it was tied with three minutes left and the Bulls let it slip away (but still, they were in it), and the Bulls just had an off shooting night.
Game Three, though, was infuriating. The Bulls defense, statistically the best in the league, got ripped up by CHRIS BOSH. Yes, Bosh Spice of all people. One of the softest big men in the league was able to drop 34 on the Bulls. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade didn't even have spectacular games- they just about matched Bosh's production points wise, TOGETHER. On offense, Derrick Rose had 20 points, but was barely the dominant force he needs to be for the Bulls to have a chance. Carlos Boozer finally stepped up, but Joakim Noah stepped into the background with a point and five rebounds, while Taj Gibson continued his solid, consistent effort. Omer Asik...we'll, he's not what we'd call "offensively competent," so Miami is happy to leave him in scoring position, which he does not take advantage of. Luol Deng had a decent game, but continued to force the issue on the offensive end. Too often he drives into the paint and tries to force a shot that just ins't there instead of passing the ball off. The lack of scoring from the Shooting Guard position has been exposed this series- Bogans isn't hitting open shots, Brewer, for some reason, isn't getting quality minutes, and the Heat attack Korver defensively every time he subs in.
Simply put, the Heat defense has figured out how to stop the Bulls attack-with some help from the officials, who aren't giving that many fouls on Derrick Rose's drives. The Heat don't respect Joakim Noah as a shooter, so are free to leave him open on the high pick-and-roll with Derrick Rose and clog the lane (which is why I think Gibson should get more playing time in that role). Also, the Heat have put LeBron on Derrick Rose, along with a helper (who comes off one of the big men, Noah usually) to prevent his drives. They're keeping the ball out of his hands. And when that happens, the Bulls aren't scoring consistently.
On the defensive side, the Bulls fell apart on their rotations and help defense, leaving Bosh open to try and stop Wade or James. Here's the problem- Bosh can hit open shots when he's motivated. He continued to punish the Bulls for playing off him when all they needed to do was play him hard and take him out of the game early. As for stopping Wade and James, I think the Bulls should go with Brewer on Wade (he's better than Bogans on defense and has been hitting more shots recently) and keep Deng on James with help off Joel Anthony (when he's in) or off of Bibby/ Chalmers (because Haslem has been killing us).
But that's just one fan's opinion. What really matters for Game 4 is how much effort the Bulls put into the game. This is simply put a must win. The Bulls will not come back from down 3-1 in the series. Miami is too talented to lose three straight. The Bulls need to take this one and prove that they can win on the road, even the series and regain home court advantage. If the Bulls can play defense like they did in Game 1, where they shut down James and Wade and let Bosh do some damage (but not enough to really kill them, as their offense was actually working), they can win this game. They need to pair that defensive energy with some offensive fire- some good low post play along with a dominating Derrick Rose performance. This is a time when an MVP shows what he's made of- in the clutch, when the team needs him most. He's been hemmed in this series, and he needs to bust out in a big way- the rest of the team will follow.
So I'll be watching Game 4 intently, hanging on every basket. Because it is life or death. As much as fans like to delude themselves, 3-1 is almost impossible to get out of. It's the death knell for the season, the shot before the total knockout. That dazed state is almost impossible to deal with. Hopefully the Bulls keep me out of there.