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Eastern Conference Finals Preview: Bulls and Heat

The Eastern Conference Finals are now set as the Chicago Bulls eliminated the Atlanta Hawks last night, because of Oprah they will play Game 1 against the Heat on Sunday night.

There is no clear front runner in this series. Both teams slugged it out in the regular season, Chicago won all three games but their greatest margin of victory was only four points and I don’t expect it to be any different in this series.

Miami’s superstar duo are playing much better basketball at the moment than they did in regular season but Derrick Rose has proven that no one can defend him. It might be two against one in the superstar department however I believe that the game will not be won and lost there.

What will be the ‘X’ factor in this series?

Those “other guys” are going to play a huge roll for both teams and the Bulls have more depth. Deng, Boozer, Noah are Chicago’s main “other guys” as opposed to Miami’s Chris Bosh and on the occasion James Jones and Mario Chalmers. The main focus will be on both front courts because Chicago has the right personnel to punish Miami’s lack of interior presence. In their three regular season meetings Chicago out-rebounded the Heat by 10 and had 9 more second chance points. Bosh, Anthony, Howard or Ilgauskas will have to step up and limit the second chance opportunities the Bulls will get with Boozer, Noah and Asik hitting the glass hard.

Picking a winner is extremely difficult between these two teams. On one side you have two unstoppable players that will always have you in the game but on the other there is an MVP and a very good team backing him.

For me the series will ultimately come down to controlling the paint, as Chicago have a better front court I have to side with them.

Chicago Bulls in 6 games.

Until next time..

D.B.

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Miami Heat: Their Championship to Lose?

Last night the Miami Heat came one step closer to that first championship in LeBron James – Dwyane Wade era, closing out the series against the Boston Celtics on their home floor. After the final siren James and Wade celebrated the victory as if they had won the title, their jubilation was however somewhat fitting as the Celtics were responsible for eliminating the Heat and James’ former team the Cleveland Cavaliers from last year’s playoffs.

Winning this series against Boston has built up a lot of talk about how the title is theirs for the taking. If they can dispose of such a high class opponent in five games, who is going to stop them? James and Wade are unstoppable on offense, their defense has been very solid and the most consistent part of their game and those other guys (Bosh, Chalmers and Jones) have had good games every once in a while too.

So the Miami Heat are the 2011 NBA Champions, right? Wrong, the thing that set the Heat apart from Boston in this series is the ability to make plays in the fourth quarter.

Being a veteran side you would think the Celtics would excel down the final stretch of a game, however if you didn’t know they had a couple of finals appearances and a championship you would have thought they were a young and inexperienced team. Turning the ball over on bad passes, making bad decisions in transition and forcing up bad shots is very unlike the Celtics. I would like to say that Miami’s defense was so good that they forced them into these mistakes but in reality they were mostly unforced errors, it seems as though the age factor and a one armed point guard caught up to them. As a result the Heat’s superstar duo capitalized and made the right plays, much like Dallas did against the Lakers.

Related article: The Heat and Championships

Miami is yet to be truly tested, I believe that next round’s match up against the Bulls or the Hawks will bring out their best and their worst.

Of all the teams that have exited the playoffs, their greatest flaws were exposed and exploited. Miami hasn’t come up against a team that has been able to successfully do that. In Game 3 Boston showed us that Miami is lacking when it comes to their front court, Garnett was way too dominant for them to do anything about it.

It will be up to Boozer, Noah and Asik or Horford and Pachulia to control that paint and hit Miami where they are weakest. Until that happens the Heat will be too hard to stop.

Until next time..

D.B.

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The Heat and Championships

“Not 1, not 2, not 3, not…” You get the picture, these were the words spoken by LeBron James about how many championships the Heat would win at Miami’s celebration of their new superstar and Chris Bosh. Since then the Heat have had their ups and downs, there has been a lot of questions about how long it will take them to get going and start playing as a unit.

There is no “I” in “team,” it is evident that one single star player cannot win a championship, see 2007 NBA Finals Cleveland Cavaliers and 2001 NBA Finals Philadelphia 76ers as prime examples. However there are two “I’s” in “championship” and Miami have used this equation to make what could possibly be a championship team. This formula is starting to become the latest craze in the NBA, in the next two years we will be seeing more superstars teaming up with a monster free agent class coming up in 2012. Therefore the statement made by LeBron above could become very difficult to achieve if my math is correct.

However with their recent playoff run the Heat have gotten the hang of the two superstar and Chris Bosh system. Taking care of the 76ers in five games and now punishing the veteran Celtics, who I had picked to win in six games. They say it isn’t a series until one team wins on the road but I don’t think home court will assist the Celtics against this Heat team. Nevertheless Miami has established itself as one of the hot teams in the playoffs (no pun intended) with the Dallas Mavericks in that same conversation.

Based on what I have seen thus far the Heat look like a very promising prospect for the title this year if their two superstars can stay productive and Bosh to play like a big.

Just to address the fact that this post isn’t to hate on Bosh if you have noticed, he is a key piece in Miami’s team however I don’t rate him as a superstar. I will dedicate a post to him some time in the future. In the present I am picking the Heat and the “tough” Mavs as favorites to make the finals, yes a repeat of the 2006 Finals, minus Shaq and pretty much everyone else.

Although I wouldn’t mind being proven wrong.

Until next time..

D.B.

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