KERR: DENG CAN BE LEBRON’S NEMESIS

Chicago Bulls legend Steve Kerr believes Luol Deng has the skills to become the NBA’s perfect LeBron Stopper after his tenacious defensive performance in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Great Britain international’s lockdown of the Miami Heat forward was the prime catalyst for the Bulls victory and the 1-0 series lead they take into Wednesday night’s Game 2.

Kerr, who is commentating on the series for ESPN UK, thinks familiarity has allowed Deng to show such contempt for the two-time MVP who scored just 15 points on 5 of 15 shooting, often under pressure from the Londoner.

“Luol’s a really smart player,” said Kerr, who won three titles with the Bulls along side Michael Jordan. “He understands the angles. He understands LeBron’s tendencies because he’s played against him so often.

“They played last year in the first round of the play-offs when LeBron was in Cleveland. I just feel like Chicago’s defensive schemes are really good and their team defence just builds these walls in front of LeBron and Dwyane Wade. Chicago’s built to stop Miami’s offense because they run so many isos and the ball stops so often with Wade and James. Chicago’s just overloaded in front of those guys.”

James concedes that Miami will need to adjust to level the best of seven series. “We had a difficult time moving the ball,” he said. “If you don't get the rebounds, it's going to be a long night.  They did a good job of moving the ball, rebounding.”

That, says Kerr, means the Heat will need to get extra movement on the weak side. But it is not their natural stance, he adds, playing again into Deng’s hands.

“Because of that scheme, Luol is just able to do his job and force LeBron where he wants, knowing that the help is going to be there. And he’s really good at it. Plus, his conditioning level – to play 40 minutes like that every night and to be counted on to score 17-20 points a night and put pressure on LeBron at the other end – he’s obviously an incredible athlete.”

Meanwhile Deng says the Bulls cannot afford to rest on their laurels despite the crushing nature of their 103-82 victory on Sunday night.

“I think we have to know this is best out of seven,” the GB forward declared. “We did a good job of winning game one.  We did great, great result for us.  But we have to let that go, especially playing a team like this.  They have guys who just can take over games and could go off at any time. 

“We have to realise that if they win the next game, it changes everything.  It's still a big game.”

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