It is surely the most important game of the Eastern Conference Finals.
The top seeded Bulls find themselves behind 2-1 in this best of 7 series and it's a " must win" situation for them. Tip-off is set for Tuesday at 8:30 pm ET and will be televised on TNT.
Teams have come back from 3-1 deficits but that would be a tall order against the likes of Lebron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade. If the Bulls can steal one here they can even up the series at 2 games a piece. Barring a miracle, this game is their season.
NBA odds have Miami as a 5 point favorite for game 4 with the total sitting at 178.5
In their last game, the Miami Heat defeated the Chicago Bulls, 96-85 to easily cover the 5 points on the betting odds board. Miami went on a 9-0 run in the 4th quarter that sealed the deal for the Heat. Chris Bosh led the way with 34 points on 13 of 18 shooting from the field. Lebron James added 22 points and 10 assists..
The Bulls were led by Carlos Boozer with 26 points and 17 rebounds. Derrick Rose added 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists but he hasn't been the same factor that he's been all season. Rose has shot poorly and continued, shooting 8 for 19 from the field.
Can Derrick Rose show why he's the league's MVP in a crucial game 4 or will Miami take total control of this series and be one game away from a trip to the NBA Finals?
Bye Bye Toronto
Chris Bosh has had a good season but game 3 was his most important game of the season and officially made him a member of the big three. Bosh has had big games before but he was money when it counted, converting on 13 of his last 15 field goal attempts. This takes some of the pressure off of Wade and James and forces the Bulls to focus their attention on another offensive threat. The Heat are unbeatable when the big 3 all score above 20 points in a game but if Chris Bosh plays like this, their chances of winning game 4 are enhanced. Look for Bosh to play well. He should be full of confidence and matches up well against a tough Bulls defense.
Lebron James, ball distributor?
King James played his consistently strong offensive game but also distributed the ball well, getting others involved. There's times where Lebron needs to keep the ball and be a one man show but getting his team involved is a major plus for Miami. This isn't a deep team, as we know.
Miami got contributions from Udonis Haslem (8 points and 4 rebounds), Mike Bibby (6 points, 3 rebounds), and Mario Chalmers (6 points). This is the type of play that will benefit the Heat against a deep team like the Bulls. James was also perfect from the line at 9 for 9. I don't know if I'd expect Lebron to dish out double digit assists again. Game 4 is a game where Miami can practically close the lid on the Bulls and they're at home. Expect Lebron to be a part of most success that the Heat will have. I expect Chicago to have a better game 4 than the game 3 that they had.
Follow the leader
It's as simple as that. Derrick Rose might dominate a game but he doesn't have the size of a Lebron James and can't control a game the same way that James does. His job is to hit to be the floor general. He needs to hit the outside shot, make the timely passes to get his teammates involved, and be lively on the court, hustling and grabbing loose balls and rebounds. Rose's shooting has been off. He's a scorer but he's not a great shooter like Steve Nash. For the series, Rose has shot 25 of 64 from the field. When he's averaging over 20 shots per game, his accuracy needs to be a lot better than it has been. It's been a big difference in the series thus far.
I've mentioned Noah in my last article and he laid an egg and also had egg on his face and was fined for his insensitive and thoughtless comments. He needs to play up to his potential and shut his mouth. He's taking away from the Bulls success and this is crunchtime. There's no time for immature behavior. Maybe I was wrong and he should sit on the bench more often if he has another performance and outburst like the one that he had in game 3.
The invisible man
I'm not talking about Carlos Boozer. Boozer finally stepped up big and look for that to continue. I'm talking about Kyle Korver. This is a player that can hit the 3 and the Bulls can rely on from the bench. Korver has averaged 8.3 points on 41.5 % shooting from 3 point range this season. He's had better seasons than that but he comes up with big baskets to help the Bulls pull out victories.
Korver has been a disaster in this series. Korver has averaged 3 points per game on 3 of 12 shooting from the field. I don't expect Kyle Korver to get completely on track but I do expect him to come up with a couple of key buckets.
What to expect?
This will be a close game. Miami wants this game badly but Chicago needs this game to have a legitimate shot in this series. Expect Derrick Rose to start hitting his shots and Carlos Boozer will have another strong game. 5 points is a lot to give Chicago, especially in a spot like this. Take the Bulls to cover.
Pick: Chicago +5