Maybe more than any season in recent memory, the 2010-2011 NBA campaign has stood out like Clayton Bigsby at a Klan rally. Two of the more prominent stories centered around the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat, but for completely different reasons. The upstart Bulls did everything the "right way." They were led by a rookie coach, a young point guard who managed to win the hearts of nearly every basketball fan with his timid ferociousness and a team who embraced the concept of "we." However, the South Beach mafia were the exact opposite. From July 9, 2010, they were the most despised and watched team in basketball for a variety of reasons.
Now, tonight, the two squads begin their best of seven series for a trip to advance to the NBA Finals. The Crew decided to invest in the postseason as well with our very own previews. We're not experts or analysts by any stretch of the imagination, just guys who watch the games like you and every other red-blooded American male. Hailing from the Bayou state, our very own David D. explains the method to the madness as to why Chicago will advance one step closer to their first title since the MJ era. Tins, well, yeah. He's got the Heat.
Feel free to leave your own thoughts on the series. After you read ours, of course.
Since the beginning of the season – and if you’re that much of a nerd, you can check the posts from earlier this year – I’ve been yelling that the Bulls would still be better than the Heat and they’d eliminate the Big Three in the playoffs. Of course, I thought this would happen during a second-round match-up, but I called the Bulls winning nonetheless. So I’m going to stick to my guns and predict that my guys can pull off the upset in 7. Here are five reasons why.
1. Luol Deng Is The LeBron Stopper: Okay, nobody stops LeBron. Still, Deng is easily LeBron’s toughest one-on-one defender, seeing as he's physical, big and athletic enough to stick LBJ on D. He provides a match-up that doesn’t require double teams or allow LeBron to have monster games. If Deng can keep James relatively in check, the Chicago defense can focus on stopping Wade, which would definitely need a team effort.
2. Who Can Check The MVP?: The short answer? Nobody. LeBron's going to need to check Rose in the fourth quarter. But if LBJ's in foul trouble or tired, then this can be problematic for the Heat. Bibby doesn’t stand a chance. Neither does anybody else on the Heat squad. I expect Derrick to have his way with the perimeter defenders. The Heat can pack the middle, which can cause trouble for Rose, but if Korver heats up, he’ll provide a nice weapon on the three-point line to kick the ball out to.
3. Home Court: The most important factor in the Heat’s win over the Celtics was home court advantage. By being able to flex in front of the Ugg-wearing pansies in Miami, the Heat built up tons of momentum and confidence. Starting off a series on the road is going to be a much different story. Wade and James are going to bring it no matter where they play, but the role players are going to struggle against the stifling D in the United Center.
4. Boozer Is Pissed: Carlos Boozer is an angry man. During the off-season, Wade and James let Bosh into their secret society without even considering Boozer, who is as good or better than Bosh. Boozer wanted to go to Miami. He has a house on South Beach and wanted to play with Wade and James. They didn’t want him. They wanted Bosh Spice. This series is Boozer’s chance to show the country why the Heat made the wrong decision. Expect a physical non-Duke-like Cee-Lo to crash boards and put the wood to Chris Bosh.
5. Bench: During Game 5 of the Atlanta series, Tom Thibodeaux let the Bulls’ bench play well into the fourth quarter thanks to their defense. The Chicago bench is much deeper and better defensively than Miami’s. Miami is going to have to keep at least one of the Big Three on the court at all times because the subs aren't going to be able to score. The whole series might be won on the bench play and, if so, Chicago wins by a landslide.
The past year of my basketball life has been one I'll eventually write a book on. Until then, I'll spare you senseless babble. Heat in six. Oh yeah, if anyone hears from Freddie Gibbs, tell him I said if Miami wins this series he has to buy Lil B's new album and Twitpic it.
1. Joel Anthony Continues To Shine: Hold on, what? The third year man out of UNLV's emergence into irreplaceable role player in the playoffs is the team's biggest news since last summer's free agency overhaul. Nevermind the fact his +/- ratio is higher than bin Laden's personal stash, Miami is simply a better team with him on the court. He's active, agile, aggressive and any other positive adjective beginning with the letter "A." Plus, he's beginning to look like a poor man's Joakim Noah minus the asshole tendencies that'll surely develop once he gains more and more confidence. That being said, Anthony must rebound better against Chicago than he did in the regular season if Miami wants to win this series.
Photo: Heat Index
2. Spo Finally Gets It Right: LeBron, Wade, Jones, Bosh, Anthony. That line up will not start the game, but expect them to close it. With Jones' outside shooting abilities and Anthony's defensive prowess, this gives the other three flexibility to roam the court. Such a five man rotation has actually been Miami's best five since the second season began. When he wants to, Bosh can hold his own while James and Wade are two of the best perimeter defenders in the solar system. Look for this also to be the rotation as well when LeBron and/or Wade assume the task of defending Derrick Rose.
3. Chris Bosh Mans Up: Shortly after the Bulls' elimination of the Hawks, Carlos Boozer tossed a backhanded compliment in the Heat's direction when he said the Heat had two superstars. Obviously this was a shot at Chris Bosh who, when you think about it, is pretty much the same player as Carlos himself. Both are more comfortable facing the basket and can put up 20 and 10 when their game is on. However, both have had their toughness questioned on more than one occasion as well. In this series, Bosh will continue to live up to his 16 points and 10 rebounds per game average this postseason all but neutralizing his opponent. All that stuff about being scared by the opposing team's crowd? A thing of the past. And if it isn't, expect to see Udonis Haslem put that foot to the test and log plenty of minutes.
The Boozer/Bosh dynamic is ironic because before Booz when to the polygamist pastures of Utah, he and LeBron were teammates for one year even shooting a commercial together at one point. There's your six degrees of separation.
4. Defend Rose By Any Means Necessary: Let me make one thing clear. Stopping Derrick Rose is comparable to holding a beach ball under water. It's damn near impossible and once you let go the ball explodes out of the water to hit you in the face. Rose is going to get his numbers. It is just the Heat's job to make sure he gets them in volume. If he scores 30 points, fine. Spo and company just want to make sure he takes 30 shots to get there. To do this, expect to see a committee of Bibby (*shakes head*), Chalmers, Wade and LeBron guard the MVP. If he gets too comfortable with one body on him, the Heat are in trouble. Variety is the spice of life, but more importantly the key for Miami. Also, do not be surprised if the Heat employ all of their big men to use some fouls on Rose.
5. LeBron James And Dwyane Wade: Beating the Celtics was an internal hurdle for both superstars, but they haven't exactly beaten Boston yet. What do I mean? Coach Tom Thibodeau, the former Celtics assistant coach, was the defensive architect whose schemes were used to frustrate and slow down James and Wade.
Now the question is can he do the same thing to the same players at the exact same time? I say no. Deng will make LeBron work for every basket, but trust and believe a 30-10-10 game is on the horizon. Wade, on the other hand, will exploit his match up against Keith Bogans mainly because it is Keith Bogans and he's Dwyane Wade. The law of physics supports this claim. And if the duo can somehow get any type of transition points against this Bulls defense, Chicago is in trouble.