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In the past, it has really been about pushing the ball, making the game more up-tempo, trying to wear Shaq out, and trying to get Miami to play sort of an erratic type of game, a game that they’re not comfortable playing in. More so, it’s about just trying to keep Shaq on the move, especially on the pick and rolls because the Bulls offense is basically predicated on outside shooting. Miami is a very good defensive team in terms of covering out on the perimeter, but one of their weaknesses, and Shaq’s weakness, is that pick and roll. As coach, I am relying on that.
The fact that they don’t have any size or height to keep Shaq away from the basket makes him a huge threat in this series. Miami has to get back to playing the type of basketball that they were playing a year ago and they have to have a healthy Dwyane Wade. Dwyane has to put his injuries behind him and force himself to go out and play the type of basketball that he was playing early on this season, which I thought was MVP-style basketball. I think that the Heat, even without Wade being in the lineup, have played some pretty stable basketball, but they have to get back to utilizing Shaq if they are going to win this series.
I think in looking back a year ago, the Bulls played the Miami Heat fairly close and since then they acquired Ben Wallace, a better player than what they had at that position last year, so he is going to be the x-factor. If Ben Wallace can step up and play against the Miami Heat the way he has done in the past, the way he has played against Shaq in previous playoff games, he could be a huge factor.
If I were coaching the Heat, I am going after Ben Wallace. I’m attacking him from a standpoint of fouling him, putting him on the foul line, taking his aggressiveness and his confidence totally out of this series like the Heat did last year in the series against the Pistons. Riley went after Ben Wallace and took him out of that series early on and made him less effective and took all the pressure off Shaq. I put it on Ben Wallace. Let’s make a hack-a-Ben and forget about hack-a-Shaq. I think that is going to be something in Ben Wallace’s mind going into this series, that the Miami Heat are going to use their fouls on him.
I am going to go out on a limb and go with the Bulls in six. This team is playing better basketball than the Heat right now and they’re going to be in a little bit better rhythm come playoff time. Miami doesn’t have an identity, whereas the Chicago Bulls do.