The last time that the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat locked horns in the Eastern Conference playoffs, it was Chicago who shot out of the gate with a convincing Game 1 victory back in 2011. Two years later, and the landscapes of both teams are different, but one defensive assignment remains just as important.
Since being drafted into the NBA in 2003, James has been a defensive juggernaut, and the Heat usually place James on the other team’s best offensive player. In 2011, Derrick Rose was a huge thorn in the side of the Heat, so coach Eric Spoelstra decided to have LeBron match up with Rose on the defense side of the ball. While the strategy didn’t render Rose useless, the move did make it more difficult for the Bulls to get the offense going.
Nate Robinson has taken the throne as the most dominant Bull, which means James should be guarding the 5-foot-9 jitterbug. Especially with Luol Deng out of the lineup, it would be insane for the Heat to have James guard anyone else on the Chicago roster. After 27 points in Game 1, Robinson cemented himself on the Heat’s scouting report.
Keep in mind that the Heat lack a post presence and although Chris Anderson has played better, Robinson got to the lane at will on Monday. Putting James on Robinson will surely slow down the penetration that Robinson is so accustomed to getting.
Without the ability to drive to the basket, the Bulls offense will be forced to rely on jump shooting and with Kirk Hinrich likely out, Chicago’s shooting percentage would surely decrease.