Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat and What Could Have Been
Instead, Chicago fans are stuck with barbecue and bad baseball thanks to the season-ending injury to Derrick Rose that led to the Bulls' demise.
It's like a sacrificial offering, because nobody in their right mind thinks either team has a chance. You have the young and untalented Sixers, or the soon to be collecting Social Security Celtics on the menu instead of the delectable combination of Bulls-Heat.
If you're not salivating now, it's only because you're as disappointed as most basketball fans, especially fans of the Chicago team.
Oklahoma City and the San Antonio Spurs in the West is a classic duel of a loaded young team on the cusp of greatness, and a legendary champion possibly making their last run.
Like that series, the Bulls playing the Heat would have been "must see" TV.
There would have been an answer to the question if the Bulls did enough in picking up Rip Hamilton to overtake Miami.
Despite the injury-riddled season the Bulls suffered through, it would have been good timing to meet Miami. Chris Bosh being out and not certain of coming back had to give the Bulls an advantage, especially after what he did to them last year in the playoffs.
He might have been their most valuable player, averaging 23.2 points and 7.6 rebounds, while shooting 42-of-70 from the floor and 32-of-35 from the line.
Even though he is the least prominent of the Heat stars, his absence against the Bulls would have had a significant impact. They probably would not have beaten the Bulls last year if not for him.
This series would have pitted a re-awakened Dwyane Wade, along with LeBron James, and not much else for Miami. Mario Chalmers has been hit or miss, and Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, and Shane Battier have not been stellar so far.
It was a two-man team that beat Indiana. They were able to get away with that against a team without a superstar like the Pacers, but could they have done it against the Bulls?
Derrick Rose is a superstar, and despite his injury-marred season, he almost had a triple-double in the playoff game against Philadelphia before he suffered the torn ACL.
With Rose playing, it's possible Joakim Noah would not have suffered his ankle sprain because the circumstances would have been different. Even so, he still likely would been available for the Eastern Conference Finals.
And don't tell me the Bulls might not have made it without him if Rose was able to play. If the Sixers can take Boston to a seventh game, the Bulls would have beaten them sans Noah.
Now we're looking at Luol Deng and wondering which one shows up. The player who didn't show up at the beginning of the series, or the one who finished strong the last two games.
Carlos Boozer is what he is, so you never know what to expect.
That brings us to the guy who was supposed to be the missing piece to the puzzle: Rip Hamilton. The thought was he was what the Bulls were missing last year facing Miami. So how come he was MIA most of the Sixers' series in the fourth quarter?
The Bulls needed him to step up as an additional offensive weapon to counter the Heats' defensive tactics against Rose.
The question still looms if he was the answer. A lot of questions remain unanswered about this Bulls' team, and we're not likely to get those answers next year.
Meanwhile, basketball fans are being served leftovers on Monday with the Bulls sitting at home, instead of a delicious treat.
And for that, everyone loses.
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