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The Heat Is On: Eastern Conference Finals Preview

By Angie Wiatrowski in News on May 15, 2011 8:00PM

2011_1_16_MBS_BULLS.jpg As ESPN continues to squeeze in a montage of the Bulls’ season sweep against the Miami Heat every so often, a basketball fan living in Chicago couldn’t be anything but pumped for Sunday’s match-up. However, this basketball fan has to keep in mind some of the simple slip-ups the Bulls have had during the playoffs and their razor-thin margins in the regular season against Miami.

Despite the Bulls’ 3-0 record against the ‘Three Kings’ and the Heat, Miami has played their best basketball since the Bulls' 87-86 win March 6, knocking off the Celtics, who knocked out LeBron James's Cavaliers teams two out of the last three years in the NBA playoffs.

While the Bulls were able knock out the Indiana Pacers and the Atlanta Hawks, it wasn’t always pretty. It was downright nerve-racking at times. Derrick Rose has had some excellent playoff moments, no doubt, but there have been plenty of shaky instances. Let’s not forget though, the league MVP played with a sprained ankle in the first series with the Pacers, but still racked up solid numbers.

Then we have power forward Carlos Boozer, blaming turf toe for his lackluster play in the playoffs. This has put a burden on Rose, who didn’t blame his poor shooting on his sprained ankle one bit. The pressure is on Rose, but he can’t win every game alone.

Boozer did have his best playoff game in Game 6 against the Hawks with 23 points and 10 rebounds. It’s kind of been nothing but the sound of crickets on the court since then for the Bulls’ $70 million man. Good thing for Tom Thibodeau, his 'bench mob' is thriving and Taj Gibson has been an even better replacement for the injury-plagued Boozer.

Despite a regular season sweep, James and Dwyane Wade had great offensive success versus Chicago and they could possibly step up their game and spring out of nowhere. They have a combined 56.5 PPG, James has a 56.4 field goal percentage and Wade has a 44.4 percent versus the Bulls. Miami made 12-of-28 three-pointers in their first game in Chicago, but only went 5-for-21 the last two games. They seem to steadily get worse as the series goes on, and that’s something the Bulls can take advantage of.

It will be a tough race as both teams are extremely similar. Counting the playoffs, the Bulls have 70 wins. Miami has 66, is 14-3 since the beginning of April and 8-2 in the postseason; the Bulls are 16-3 and 8-3. The Heat thrive off of others’ weaknesses and turnovers could be an issue in this series. However, we still have faith in the Bulls and we know they’ll make it interesting. It'll be stretch but we're thinking, well, hoping Bulls in 7.

Let's get a little blast from the past to help set the mood, if you will.