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Bulls Mon May 13 2013

Disabled Bulls Face Do Or Die Game Four

Bulls_200.pngHow can a team only down two games to one in a best of seven series be on life-support? Because they're killing themselves, with unsportsmanlike conduct, perplexing fouls (especially the legitimate ones), and creating instant offense on turnovers -- for the Heat.

Tom Thibodeau's "we have enough players to win" mantra is as transparent as his updates on players' health status. And it looks like Thibodeau won't be reporting any good news before tip-off in the way of healthier players. The overmatched Bulls -- minus Luol Deng (already ruled out for Game 4) and Kirk Hinrich -- are throwing everything they have at the Heat. Though they're wearing their hearts on them, there are no more tricks up their sleeves.

So how can the Bulls even fathom taking another contest from their foe? Pitch a perfect game. You've heard this from everyone; male analysts with makeup on, Turner Sports slide-show bloggers and AM radio first-time callers, long-time listeners have all said the same thing: the Bulls need to play a perfect game for a chance to win. After Game 1, the Heat have WD-40'd their rust off, and now their well oiled machines are running on fast-ain't-fair team defense, fire-at-will corner threes from Norris Cole and Shane Battier, and an MVP who's angry. You wouldn't (even more so) like LeBron when he's angry.

The Bulls are doing a few things right on defense (defending the rim, quickly getting to the open shooter off rotational help defense) but it's not enough, the other team is just exponentially more talented. They can find their stroke from any range, and hit contested shots at an almost better rate than if they were left wide open. We've all had the "[throws hands in air] what else could the Bulls have possibly done" moment, in every other Heat possession. In addition to that, Miami seems to make every single shot they heave at the rim as the shot clock is expiring. This is testament to the entire series, the Bulls hang in until the end and then that's when Miami decides enough is enough. The Heat have an answer for anything the Bulls could challenge them with, especially in the fourth quarter.

So what's wrong with the Bulls on offense, besides the fact that they're limited?

Without Nate Robinson scoring ability, Bulls fans would have been jumping on the Blackhawks bandwagon 10 days prior during the series vs the Nets. His shots (and blocks) are as big as the love he gets from the United Center, but his ill-advised deep-jumpers with plenty of time on the clock and his inability to create for anyone other than himself are troublesome. Carlos Boozer finally showed up, but it was five days late and about a bucket or 20 short. Boozer didn't score enough to overshadow the big Game 3 he gave up to Chris Bosh (20 points, 19 rebounds). Marco Belinelli hits off-balanced clutch threes but misses them when the Bulls offense is briefly in rhythm. Also, he needs to stop jump-shooting passes across court where the long and athletic arms of James and company seem to pick off every other pass.

Marquis Teague is quick, but he's sushi-grade raw. He's playing like a shoot-last point guard, which would be what the Bulls need, but the rookie ends up getting double-team trapped whenever he stops moving with the ball, and either loses the ball or relies on his signature move: the bailout 20-second time out. Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah keep giving the performances the Bulls need each game, but clearly they aren't the type of players to take over on offense, even for a few back-to-back stretches.

The technicals need to end too. Bully-ball is great and tips momentum briefly in the Bulls' favor, but if it keeps up, they might as well start out each game letting 90 percent career free throw shooter Ray Allen take three technical foul shots before tip-off. The Heat have been frustrated, but they're not going to completely lose their composure like the Bulls have.

There's not much from Game 3 to say that the Bulls can win Game 4. The team just runs out of ideas on offense in the fourth quarter, and by that point has expended all its energy and can't make stops on defense. The Bulls' margin for error is too small to see with the naked eye. The last hope for them to do the unthinkable (force a Game 6), is tonight. If they don't find a new way to win, then this unlucky season, coupled this rosters overall incapability, is destined for a bitter-sweet ending most likely in Miami on Wednesday. Let's hope the Bulls' mercy killing is postponed just a couple more games, so we can all admire for the last time this year seeing Robinson flex in a Bulls uniform, staring incredulously at blank faced Derrick Rose on the bench and watching a team who has nothing to give, give it their all.

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