Bulls center Joakim Noah is bumped out of bounds by Heat center Joel Anthony as he grabs a rebound in the third quarter of the Miami Heat's comeback 83-80 win over the Chicago Bulls in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals Thursday May 26, 2011 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: May 9, 2012 11:55AM
Coach Tom Thibodeau insists every game counts the same, but center Joakim Noah admits that the showdown Wednesday against the Heat means more than most.
“Everybody knows tomorrow is a big game,” Noah said. “We’re all excited.”
The Heat scored 22 points off 15 Bulls turnovers in the Bulls’ 97-93 loss Jan. 29 in Miami, making ball security a top priority.
“We know we have to defend, we have to rebound, we have to take care of the ball,” Thibodeau said. “That’s one thing in the game down there we didn’t feel we did a very good job of. The way they convert turnovers into points, if they get into the open floor, they’re hard to stop. We have to do a better job.”
LeBron James guarding Derrick Rose late in games has become a staple for the Heat. Thibodeau and Rose spent time watching film together after practice Tuesday.
“Just run our offense,” Thibodeau said when asked how he would counter the move. “They are an excellent defensive team. LeBron is an excellent defender, and their team is excellent. We have to try to attack them before they’re set, and if they’re set, we have to move them and keep the ball moving and keep our bodies moving. The big thing is taking care of the ball.”
General soreness prevented Rose from practicing Tuesday, but he will play against Miami.
“Hopefully, the rest will do him good,” Thibodeau said.
Luol Deng (wrist) practiced and could play against the Heat. C.J. Watson (ankle) didn’t practice but ran and shot and also might be available.
“It depends on how [Deng] feels after practicing today, but he went through everything in practice and felt pretty good,” Thibodeau said.
Rookie to the rescue
Jimmy Butler did a solid job defending Carmelo Anthony in the 104-99 victory Monday against the Knicks. With Deng’s status in doubt, the rookie could find himself guarding James.
“Try to stop him from scoring,” Butler said when asked how he would approach the matchup. “Obviously, he’s a great player. He can do it all.
‘‘It’s not going to be just me guarding him but everybody, like always. If I get beat, I know my teammates will be there. It’s just going to be a physical night.”