HHH Roundtable: Previewing the HEAT vs Bulls 2nd round Playoff series

USA TODAY Sports

HHH writers Surya Fernandez, Matt Pineda and Jay Ramos give their take on the next test for the Miami Heat with tonight's Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against their bitter rivals the Chicago Bulls.

1) Chris Bosh is supposedly the Heat's most important player so does he need to have a strong showing in this series in order for the Heat to win comfortably or will the team struggle if Bosh can't contribute like LeBron and Wade?

Matt Pineda: Bosh will be needed this series. When he has struggled against the Bulls the Heat have struggled. He is their #1 trigger on offense. He releases so much pressure off James and Wade's drives that the Heat will need Bosh to be able to hit his jumper. If Bosh is off, the Heat will have to scrap a lot more to score. Miami doesn't need Bosh to contribute like LeBron, they simply need him to continue to find his place within the offense from game to game. They'll also need him to be active on rebounding against one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA.

Surya Fernandez: I'm sure it would help! His accomplishments are overshadowed by the MVP LeBron James and superstar Dwyane Wade, of course, but you would like to see some consistency and for him to either draw his defender away from the paint with his jump shot or even get down low and use his fancy footwork to get more efficient looks at the rim or possibly put the Bulls' big men in foul trouble. If he's solid, then the Heat are in great shape.

Jay Ramos: I think the team doesn't need him to be great to beat the Bulls. Bosh does a lot for the team's offensive spacing and he's a solid defensive player, but the Bulls can only go so far with the limitations they have right now. Miami's defense will be much tougher to score on for their limited offense, and the Bulls should worry about that first.

2) What role player needs to play better than normal this series?

Fernandez: Not that Birdman hasn't played "well" so far, but if he could take his game to another level at this point of his comeback season it would really solidify the Heat's dominance over the Bulls. Loose balls, offensive rebounds, taking charges, this a series that's tailor-made for him to shine.

Ramos: It's kind of tough to say 'needs' since Miami can comfortably win this series if everything doesn't go right, but I think Shane Battier dragging Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson out of the paint consistently will torment the Bulls' strong defense.

Pineda: I think Shane Battier needs to play really well for the Heat. He will continue to see the minutes, and he will be expected to guard the likes of Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson. Battier will do his work on defense, but offensively he will need to regain his touch from outside. He wasn't great against Milwaukee. What makes the Heat really explosive is when Battier is on target.

3) Do you anticipate Spoelstra to change his rotation any from the Bucks series or will he adjust to the Bulls?

Pineda: I expect Spoelstra to keep his rotation the same. I think Norris Cole will be needed against someone like Nate Robinson. The only other player on the roster who can handle Nate is LeBron James. I think Cole just can't get benched yet because of his defense. If anything, this will be the series that Spoelstra begins to increase the workload of James and Bosh. So far, they've been able to play normal minutes, but we've seen Spo give James 45 minute game before, and he may be needed to do that again.

Ramos: I think he's going to keep things relatively the same. He seems to have more trust in Norris Cole than he did last year, and he was the main role player on the bubble coming into the postseason.

Fernandez: If it's not broken don't fix it. Let the Bulls adjust to the #1 seed, not the other way around.

4) Do Mike Miller and Rashard Lewis deserve more minutes?

Ramos: Hard to say. If this series is more competitive than we anticipate, it's hard to justify taking someone out of the short playoff rotation for them. You could make a case for either over Norris Cole, but Cole's better play has stalled the need for it.

Fernandez: Such a tough call when all the other rotational Heat players have been contributing well, even Udonis Haslem's shot has been steadily improving, so the question then becomes who goes out if Miller or Lewis play. Having said that, should foul trouble plague the Heat in a particular game I don't think Spoelstra should hesitate giving either of these two extended minutes and I have no doubt they will be beneficial for the team.


Pineda: I don't know if deserve is the right word here. I think Rashard full knows that he is a situational player and his minutes will come when needed. But against Chicago, I don't think it's likely we see Lewis much in the normal rotation. Haslem and Andersen are more needed to bang inside against the Bulls. As far as Miller, I think his minutes will all rely on the decision of Norris Cole. Cole played a steady dosage of minutes against the Bucks, and Miller's minutes will increase if Cole's decrease, but I don't think Mike "deserves" more minutes, he will be used when needed.

5) Series prediction and how tight will these games be?

Fernandez: It's going be the Heat in a gentleman's sweep. The Bulls aren't going to roll over and just die in any game of the series, much less in Chicago so they should take a game, maybe two, in the series but if the series goes any longer than that the Bulls might run out of healthy players. (Might want to rethink your approach with minutes in the regular season there, coach Thibodeau.)

Pineda: I see the Bulls giving the Heat a bit of trouble in Chicago. I think Miami will win by an easy margin at home, although not easy games. I see the Bulls getting one game in Chicago and the Heat closing it out in 5 games. I think the Bulls just don't have enough in the course of a series to beat Miami more than once.

Ramos: Heat in five. Chicago will fight for a win at home in game three,but Miami will bookend the series with consecutive victories to start a finish.

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