Up Next For Bulls: The Miami Heat
By Benjy Lipsman in News on May 6, 2013 3:30PM
On Saturday night, the Bulls finally ended the season for the Brooklyn Nets by winning game seven of their opening round series 99-93. Sure, it took the Bulls longer than we'd predicted, but the Bulls still won the series despite Kirk Hinrich missing the final three games, Luol Deng missing two games, and a number of other key players suffering from the flu.
Next up for the Bulls is the Miami Heat, the Eastern Conference's top seed. The Heat, led by MVP LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh finished the regular season 66-16, including a stretch where they won 36 of 38 to close out the regular season — though one of those two losses was to the Bulls. In the first round of the playoffs, the Heat handily dismissed the Milwaukee Bucks in four straight games, giving the Heat more than a week off to rest.
Meanwhile the Bulls headed directly to Miami from New York, and as the series tips off tonight Hinrich remains questionable while Deng is out. We're just going to go ahead and call Derrick Rose out for the series, and wish Rose and/or the Bulls would go ahead and do the same. So can the undermanned Bulls hang with the defending NBA champs? Even with the Bulls leading the world in TWTW, it's going to be a tough job. But not impossible.
The Trib's KC Johnson outlines the match-ups in the series, and Bulls actually win more. He gives the Bulls combo of Hinrich and Nate Robinson the edge over Mario Chalmers, Joakim Noah bests Bosh, and Carlos Boozer is better than Udonis Haslem. The Bulls also have the better bench. Miami obviously is better at shooting guard with Dwyane Wade and small forward with LeBron James, whether it's Marco Belinelli or Luol Dang playing opposite. Of course, the Heat are much better than the Bulls at those two positions.
And that should be the difference in the series. Given the Heat's incredible second-half run and the Bulls' physical limitations, we just don't believe they can overcome their shortcomings, no matter how tough they play. Noah is going to play through the pain of planter fasciitis and rebound and block shots and try his damnedest to will the team to victory. Nate Robinson will provide busts of scoring. Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng will do their best to slow down Wade and James, and are as capable as anybody in the NBA at doing just that. So this series will be no cakewalk for the Heat, and they may lose as many games in the series as they've lost since February 1. But Wade and James can also take over a game like few others can. We predict Heat in six.