Wednesday night, the Chicago Bulls will try to extend their lead over the Miami Heat in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals to 2-0, which would give them a huge edge when the series shifts to Miami later in the week. One way they can do that is by cutting down on their turnovers. Sure enough, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports, via Twitter, limiting turnovers was a Bulls talking point after Wednesday's shootaround. Tweets Johnson, "Heat scored 14 points on 9 first-half miscues in Game 1---and 2 pts on only [sic] in 2nd hf."
Are turnovers a problem for the Bulls? And how dangerous are the Heat in capitalizing off those turnovers?
The Bulls made their hay this season with their defense, not their offense, which was mediocre at best. In particular, they struggled with turnovers, as 13.5 percent of their offensive trips ended with a turnover, according to basketball-reference.com. That figure ranked them 17th in the league. So they are a turnover-prone club, meaning their good fortune in the second half of Game 1 is unlikely to continue.
That's a problem. Miami is a lethal team in transition, leading the league in points per possession in transition situations, according to the stat- and play-tracking service Synergy Sports Technology. While it's true that not all turnovers result in fast-break chances--three-second violations, offensive fouls, and some ballhandling infractions like traveling are dead-ball-turnovers--it's also true that a lot of turnovers are, and the Heat's All-Star wing duo of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade can and will punish teams in the open floor.
Luckily for Chicago, their highest-usage offensive players tend to take good care of the ball; it's the role-players, like Omer Asik and Kurt Thomas, who tend to get butterfingers. Asik's regular-season turnover rate of 23.8 percent ranks as the fourth-highest in the league among qualified players, for example.
Ultimately, the Bulls can succeed even if they turn the ball over a ton; because their defense is so consistently great, they can win ugly, low-scoring games. Against a team as talented as Miami, though, their overall margin for error on offense is reduced compared to what it was in earlier playoff rounds against the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks. They need to tread carefully Wednesday, lest they lose homecourt advantage to a hungry, gifted Heat team.
Tipoff is set for 7:30 Central on TNT.