Over the last three seasons since the formation of the Big 3, the Bulls have proven that they can beat the Heat in the regular season. In fact, in the Big 3 Era, the Bulls have the best record against the Heat in the NBA. But once they get to the playoffs, the Bulls have not yet found a way by them. And part of the reason for that, is that in the 4th quarters of those games, LeBron moves over and guards Derrick Rose. In spite of the great player DRose is, he struggles against the bigger, stronger, LeBron James. In Wednesday night’s streak-breaking win at the UC, the Heat stuck with that strategy by putting Lebron on Kirk Hinrich in the 4th quarter. And I believe this is the key to the Bulls being able to get by the Heat. Kirk Hinrich. Kirk Hinrich? Yes. Kirk Hinrich.
Derrick Rose is the Bulls’ top player, and go-to guy in the 4th quarter when the game is on the line. He plays facilitator and scorer. No matter what, the ball is going through him. So in the final 8 minutes if the game, LeBron moves onto Rose making it difficult for him to score or even see the court well and get the ball to an open teammate. He traps him at the half court line and his size causes turnovers and rushed shots. And last night, the same strategy was employed. LeBron guarded Hinrich. But what Hinrich provides that the Bulls have been missing the last three years, is a second facilitator. A player who can bring the ball up and get everyone, including Rose, involved. Even if LeBron still stays on Rose, it still keeps him off the ball and allows Hinrich to get the ball to Boozer, Noah or Deng, all who pose match up problems for the Heat.
Now, this is still all predicated on a Rose return, Noah getting healthy and the rest of the team staying healthy – but that said – Hinrich bringing the ball up and allowing Rose to make LeBron chase him around and get himself open is an advantage the Bulls have not had. Or lets say they keep LeBron on Hinrich, it leaves Rose to beat any other member of that Heat team, or draw a double team leaving someone else open.
On top of my own analysis of the match up versus Miami, consider this. The Bulls are 32-16 this year when Hinrich plays. Without? 7-15.