Against Heat, Bulls Front Court Needs To Produce
Carlos Boozer has taken a lot of “heat” over the past couple weeks for his lack of production. But of all the injuries to play with turf toe is not something minor; though because it’s a toe injury (you have nine other ones that can carry the load, right?) it’s not seen as limiting as say a knee injury, or the shoulder injury Boozer dealt with earlier in the season.
But don’t forget turf toe ended the career of the greatest cornerback of all time, Deion Sanders, whose moves and fluidity he used to get the job done on the field are not dissimilar from the way Boozer uses his body on the court. It’s a “small” injury, but it isn’t a small injury. And after his 23 point, 10 rebound performance in the Bulls series clinching win last night, he is finally getting healthy, or at least getting to a point he can play with the limitations imposed by the injury.
Boozer played his most minutes (35) of the series in game six, took the most shots (16) and made the most shots (10) so far in the playoffs. More shots means more offensive production and if he is finally healthy he can give the team what it needs from him.
On paper, the Bulls front court should have the edge against a Miami team led by D Wade and LeBron. For as great as those two played against the Celtics, Chris Bosh was equally ineffective. If they don’t win that series 4-1, the media is all over him like it was for Boozer the last four or five days. Boozer actually out produced Bosh in terms of points and rebounds in the second round, but Bosh gets the pass because he is the team’s third option, while Boozer is number two;
Boozer- 13.3 ppg, 9.6 rpg, while shooting .515 % from the field.
Bosh- 12.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg, while shooting .403 % from the field.
While Boozer was hurt and didn’t do much offensively, Joakim Noah was also pretty quiet. And sure, he isn’t the scoring threat that Boozer is expected to be, but he can do better. Against the Hawks he averaged 9.8 ppg, 10.1 rpg, while shooting .472% from the floor. How about putting up the numbers he did last year against the Cavaliers in the first round; 14.8 ppg, 13.0 rpg while shooting .528% from the field? If he can do that, and Boozer is healthy, the Bulls would be pretty hard to beat.
The other thing that’s interesting is the media’s handling of Bosh as of late. Remember in the beginning of the season it was the “Big Three” huddled around the same table at each post-game press conference? Gradually, Bosh has been omitted and the “Big Three” has been turned into the “Big Two” and the MJ and Pippen comparisons have really picked up steam. For as fragile as Bosh’s psyche is at all times, that perception could go a long way now that his role on the team has been limited.
Wade and James are going to get theirs and so is D Rose. But what will tilt the series for one tem or the other is who wins the front court match-up.
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison