Bulls vs. Heat: Breaking Down Which Team Has Better Chance to Reach NBA Finals
It may be easy enough for Miami Heat fans to dismiss losing two of three games to the Chicago Bulls this season. They were regular season games after all, and we all remember how the Conference Finals went a year ago.
Wrong. Miami knew that losing a game with Rose sidelined would be exponentially more embarrassing than in an evenly-matched duel, and no one on this Heat team wants to be embarrassed—certainly not Dwyane Wade in front of his home town at the United Center.
Who has the better shot at the Finals?
Ever the superstars, Wade and LeBron James combined for a predictably amazing 71 points. It seems like they wanted to win this game at least. But Chris Bosh shot 3-of-15, and Miami's bench was pitiful.
These are weaknesses that the superlatively-coached Bulls can exploit. Chicago's bench outscored Miami's bench 56-15 in a lopsided advantage that was emblematic of the Bulls' depth.
Derrick Rose, of course, managed to take the floor in Miami's second loss...sort of. He had a game to forget, scoring two points and going 1-of-13 from the field. It's fair to say rustiness play no small part in the matter.
This time, Coach Tom Thibodeau's defense was exceptional, holding Miami to no more than 22 points in any quarter, with just two in an overtime in which the Bulls won by 10 points. Again, Chicago's bench was dominant, outscoring Miami's by a 47-7 margin.
Carlos Boozer also improved on a two-point performance in the first win, tallying 19 points and 11 rebounds.
There's a simple explanation for Chicago's edge: This is a team in the truest sense of the term, and you never know which guys will beat you on any given night. This is also a club that believes in defense and hustle, and you better believe Joakim Noah's presence will be felt on Miami's thin front line.
Miami's not a soft team by any means, and the talent of its core All-Stars knows no limits. But it remains a team that has a dangerously thin margin for error. If the bench disappears or one of the superstars struggles, the results aren't pretty. The Bulls have proven capable of playing without their most valuable player, but it's hard to imagine the Heat doing the same.
There's something to be said about that kind of well-roundedness. The Bulls' locker room is filled with guys who can make a difference in any given game, while Miami's is filled with guys who seem to shrink on the road.
Last season may have proven something about talent, but this one may prove something about heart. Adding a healthy Richard Hamilton to the mix, along with the collective improvement and confidence of Rose's supporting cast, won't hurt the talent side of the equation either. This Bulls team is better than the one that in the Conference Finals and—with a healthy Derrick Rose—may be unstoppable.
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