The Eastern Conference Finals between the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat kicks off tonight and I here to break down the series and predict a winner. A month ago before the playoffs started,I picked the Bulls to win the East and go to the finals (https://brandononsports.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/nba-playoff-preview-and-predictions), hit the link and check the archives if you thinking I’m making this up. After watching the playoffs and the growth of the Heat as a team, I might think different.
Coaching: Tom Thibodeau won the NBA’s coach of the year in his first season, leading the Bulls to a 62 win season. He was always known as the master of the Boston Celtics defense and he’s brought the same principles and toughness to his current team. He has this team coached up well from Derrick Rose to the 12th man. He comes up with different schemes for different teams and players and he holds his players accountable for playing defense or they don’t play.
Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is in his 3rd year as coach and had pressure of getting this team to mesh into a title contender, while earning the respect and trust of his players. The Heat like the Bulls are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA and you can see the principles of Pat Riley that he learned every game. The Heat going through what they did early in the season has brought the team closer to their coach in my eyes.
Advantage: slightly to Thibodeau
Backcourt: The Bulls have the league’s best point guard and MVP in Derrick Rose along with his backcourt mate in SG Keith Bogans. Derrick Rose is a matchup nightmare for most teams and I wonder who’s going to check him. Keith Bogans is a good role player who plays defense and will be matched up with D-Wade and has been hitting the open 3 point shot of late.
Dwayne Wade and Mario Chalmers are the Heat’s starting backcourt and Wade is going to get his regardless of who’s checking him. Chalmers is going to be key in this series on both ends of the court as he will most likely have the assignment of Rose at first. Chalmers will also need to hit the open 3 point shots he will get due to the doubling of James and Wade.
Frontcourt: The Heat obvious have Lebron James, the best player in the league and a good third option in Chris Bosh who needs to have a better series against the Bulls then he had against the Celtics. The weight of James never beating the Celtics in a series was lifted in the last round, but the picture of him on the floor like he won the title still rubs me the wrong way(pause). The Heat have a platoon of Big Z and Joel Anthony at the center position and they provide some solid minutes for the Heat. Lebron closed out the Celtics series with some great play down the stretch in game 5 and the Heat will need the same in this series.
Whether the Bulls win this series or not will weigh on the play of Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng, especially on the offensive end of the court. They need consistent play from Boozer as far as scoring and rebounding. He most likely won’t have to deal with Chris Bosh as i see Joakim Noah getting that assignment. Deng will draw the assignment of trying his best to stay in front of James and making him a jump shooter. If they Bulls can get 15-18 points from Deng and Boozer they will be in every game for sure.
Bench Play: The Bulls have the clear advantage as their ” Bench Mob” consisting of Taj Gibson, Kyle Korver, Omer Asik, C.J. Watson, and Ronnie Brewer bring defense, rebounding, and mistake free minutes to the game. The Bulls were able to leave their bench players on the floor in the last 6 minutes of game 6 in Atlanta to close the game due to their defensive play.
The Heat really don’t get much of anything from their bench, and they have gotten away with it so far. There might be a point in the playoffs where the lack of production from the bench could hurt the Heat, Lebron, Wade, and Bosh do need a rest from time to time. If they could get some unexpected solid minutes from Udonis Haslem it would be a plus.
With all of that being said, I this will be a tough grind it out, low scoring series. The type where the fist team to 80 will win the game. The Heat are playing their best basketball right now and the talent of Lebron James and Dwayne Wade should be enough to win the series. Derrick Rose has the ability to carry his team to a series win as well, but I don’t trust Carlos Boozer in big spots.
Heat win the series in 7 games.