Every game this season between the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls was a nail biter, to say the least. They were physical battles, and that should be expected to continue as the two teams take each other on in the Eastern Conference Finals, which begin at 7 PM Sunday night.
The Chicago Bulls boast the league’s best defense and are one of the top rebounding teams in the NBA, especially on the offensive glass. The Heat have a high powered transition attack with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, and have three elite level weapons offensively. This promises to be a great series, and could be one of the best rivalries in the NBA for years to come.
It’s been easy for people to hate the Miami Heat all year long. They are quietly one of the “cockiest” teams in the NBA. At the same time, the Bulls are one of the most humble teams in the NBA, and I don’t think there has ever been a more quiet MVP run by a single player, and a more quiet 62 win season in recent NBA history. This is a team that simply dominates defensively, and people continue to say that Rose is the only offensive option Chicago has to fall back on.
Well, in some ways, that is true. Rose is a playmaker and when the ball is in his hands, he is a threat to score from anywhere on the floor. He is undoubtedly one of the most dynamic scoring point guards the NBA has ever seen, but that doesn’t mean the Bulls have no other options. Luol Deng is the model of consistency offensively, netting 18-20 points on a given night while shutting down his opponent defensively as the heart and soul of the Bulls’ top ranked defense.
Carlos Boozer has had a rough couple of series in the playoffs so far, but people continue to lose sight of the fact that he was almost always a 20 and 10 guy in the regular season before suffering a turf toe injury that has really hampered him.
Not only that, but the Bulls have Kyle Korver coming off the bench, and Miami Heat fans know about him all too well at this point. Korver hit a game winning three against the Heat earlier this season, and has the most fourth quarter threes of any player in the NBA this season.
The Bulls are not a flashy offensive team like the Heat, but they get offensive rebounds better than most teams, are consistent, and as good as their defense is, you can really never count them out of games.
The Heat are going to have their hands full, but the same is true for the Bulls. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are two of the better scorers in the NBA, so the Bulls will have to focus in on stopping one of them, because I still do not believe the Heat have the front line to contend with the Bulls. The Bulls will also be able to use Derrick Rose in help defense, because unlike the Hawks and Pacers, the Heat do not have a point guard capable of taking Rose to the hole at any given time.
My initial projection was a Bulls-Thunder NBA Finals, and I’m sticking to that prediction, though I think the Heat will certainly give the Bulls a fantastic series. They are one of the hottest teams in the NBA, and are going to be a tough out. Miami has yet to beat Chicago this season, but both teams are very good at home. This is a series that could easily go six or seven games.
With as good as the Bulls play at home, I’m going to say they are the favorites to take game one, especially with the revamped offensive game of Carlos Boozer, who has a chip on his shoulder in this series, to be sure. Boozer’s first option this offseason according to some reports was to play for the Heat, but they opted against him. Boozer had a huge game in the Bulls’ series clinching win over Atlanta, and if he continues to play like that, the Bulls are going to be hard to slow down offensively.
For the Bulls defensively, you have to limit the Heat in transition. They are one of the best teams in the NBA in the open floor, and the Bulls will have to be ready. This promises to be an excellent series, and one that I think the Bulls will win in six or seven.