Sunday, May 15, 2011

Heat vs. Bulls: Which style is better?

We are about to witness one amazing Eastern Conference Final, the likes of which have not been seen in years. The Miami Heat, conceived in last year's free agent period and the summer of LeBron, are a team with immense individual talents that cannot seem to get away from the media spotlight. They struggled at times on the way to the number two seed, but have come alive in the playoffs, easily dispatching the Sixers and the Celtics. They are not a deep team, and they play best when their three stars do the vast majority of the scoring. The Bulls, in many respects, are the anti-Heat. They are arguably the deepest team in the NBA, they like to fly under the media's radar, and most importantly, they play true team basketball. It will be fascinating to see whether the Big 3 of Miami can overcome the all-for-one approach of Chicago with a trip to the finals in the balance.

The Heat are best when their "Big 3" of Bosh, James, and Wade are squarely in the flow of the game. They all need to get touches and shots, and each need to be a centerpiece of the offense. They like to get into isolation mode with James and Wade. When teams try to double on them, Miami's stable of three point shooters need to knock down shots, which has not been a problem for James Jones. When the big three are on and the shooters are knocking down open shots, Miami is nearly impossible to stop. The Heat also play pretty tough and underrated defense.

The Bulls are built on defense, and being the top defense in the NBA this year is a big reason why the Bulls are where they are today. Derrick Rose, Chicago's superstar, has been simply sensational in his MVP season, and has not disappointed in the playoffs. The Bulls have an awesome bench that provides scoring in Korver, Gibson, and Watson, along with defense from Asik and Brewer. Noah provides endless energy, Deng is a consistent scorer and defender, and Bogans is an extremely pesky defender. The big wild card for the Bulls is Carlos Boozer. If Boozer puts up a double double and the defensive intensity is there, the Bulls will be extremely tough.

Game six of the Bulls-Hawks series provided the blueprint for Chicago's success: Suffocating defense, a double-double from Boozer, and Rose playing up to his ability. Miami's Big 3 will no doubt be hard to contain. But, unlike the Heat, the Bulls team approach makes them greater than the sum of their parts. a true team, a ferocious defense, and a superstar and his resurgent sidekick will be too much for the Heat, as the Bulls win in 7.

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