Game 1 of the Heat-Bulls Eastern Conference finals has garnered a lot of anticipation. Since Chicago and Miami are the two best teams in the East, and may have that position for some time to come, it may yield even more hype than the NBA Finals. Since the series has four of the league’s biggest stars involved, everyone is expecting greatness. However, while the Heat and Bulls share the spotlight, Chicago may be the team with the most to prove going in.
Since the Bulls have the league’s best record, and beat the Heat three straight times in the regular season, this would normally make Chicago the favorite. However, since Miami manhandled its archrivals in Boston, and since Chicago has struggled for all but two games in the playoffs, the visiting Heat have been designated as the slim favorites.
It would appear that Miami has finally become as powerful as everyone expected, when its Big Three first came together. Having only lost two games in the postseason, and having blown by the Celtics at long last, all the momentum is riding with the Heat. Meanwhile, the Bulls have struggled to win most games, except for the clinchers against the Pacers and Hawks.
In any case, Chicago has one superstar, while Miami has three, which would appear to leave the Bulls shorthanded. However, that one superstar is MVP Derrick Rose, who has help from the likes of Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. In contrast, the other nine players on the Heat regularly score less than 20 percent of the team’s points nowadays.
Still, as the Heat-Bulls series nears, the combination of LeBron James and Dwayne Wade is expected to stay hot, and perhaps be all that Miami needs. Even the Chicago Sun Times admits as much, as Rick Morrissey predicts that James won’t become a playoff disappointment again, because Wade gives Miami “a ton of talent tipping the scales.”
All those that have hated the Heat and James all season have to be a little nervous right now. Miami went through a largely tumultuous regular season, with recurring slumps and constant questions about whether it could win in the clutch against contenders. But if the Heat manage to win the NBA title anyway, then the preseason talk about winning “not five, not six, not seven” championships in the future might not seem so crazy.
With all the hype and controversy around Miami this season, and with the way it seems to be paying off now, it’s easier to put Chicago in a supporting role in this series. But although the Bulls have been the quieter powerhouse, the team still has a better record, an MVP and past success over the Heat. It may be harder to remember that now, yet Chicago can start reminding everyone on Sunday night, at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.
Chicago Sun-Times- “LeBron James-Dwayne Wade combo gives Heat edge over Bulls”
Yahoo Sports- “Heat-Bulls Preview”