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Matching up with Bulls

With Erik Spoesltra saying today at shootaround that he plans on sticking with the same starters, it makes you wonder how the matchups are going to play out.

Having seen Spo operate, he's not going to blink first. He's probably going to stick with the traditional matchups, meaning Mike Bibby with be the primary defender on Derrick Rose and he'll trust that the team defense will have his back.

The quick alternative would be to put Bibby on Keith Bogans and Dwyane Wade on Rose, which is also a very likely scenario.

But the big man matchup might be just as intriguing. The Bulls have shown a tendency to play Joakim Noah on Chris Bosh, which leaves Carlos Boozer to defend Joel Anthony (also known as playing center field).

The Heat normally switches back to the more traditional matchup of PF vs PF and C vs C. But now that Joel is a starter, it wouldn't be surprising to see Joel stay on Boozer and Bosh on Noah. Joel has shown he can play great one-on-one defense against post players, as he did against Kevin Garnett. And if he can limit Boozer, that leaves Bosh to basically box out Noah, whose primary responsibility is to rebound.

And if that works, don't be surprised to see the Heat go small quite often in this series, with LeBron James at the power forward spot. If Bosh can hang with Noah or Omer Asik, LeBron can certainly handle a Taj Gibson type at PF, and then have an advantage on the opposite end. Basically, the pressure is on Bosh and LeBron to rebound out of that lineup, but the Heat has been close to unstoppable with LeBron at the power forward spot toward the end of the year and in the playoffs.

Don't expect to see much of Udonis Haslem in this series, because Spo is in a tough spot with that. Do you insert him when things are going well and threaten to disrupt harmony? Or do you put him in when things are headed south and ask a rusty UD to help carry them out? Spo said he'll read the situation and see if he uses Haslem, but unless the Heat has its way with the Bulls, and not many see that happening, then it's likely Spo will once again keep it close to the vest and stick with the current rotation.

 

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