The last team I will offer before B/R as a worthy contender to defeat the Heat hails from the Windy City.
I admit this team is a longshot, and it will take a few things to go in the favor of Da Bulls! They have a puncher's chance, but stranger things have happened.
New acquisition Carlos Boozer and center Joakim Noah must combine to shut the paint down for the entire series.
These two, supported by Taj Gibson and Kurt Thomas, must effectively dominate (not just win) the battles near the basket. They need to combine to be machines when scoring, rebounding and defending the tin, in the words of Bill Raftery.
I am not saying that the Man from the Sudan needs to be like Larry Bird, but Luol Deng has to impact the series consistently.
At 6'9", he is taller than LeBron James, but he is more slight of frame. Though he gives up 30 lbs to LBJ, he has to stand up to his physical style of play.
If he makes LBJ work for his points (there is no chance he matches him point for point), and takes advantage of any defensive sleepwalking by LeBron, he can be a factor in the playoffs against Miami.
No one can deny (even you newly minted Miami Heat fans) that Derrick Rose is the equal in talent to Dwyane Wade, if not nearly LeBron James-like. He has to leave an indelible mark in this series for the Bulls to even sniff victory.
He will have to impose his will by way of points, assists, steals, and aggressive play. No PG in a Heat uniform is a good matchup, and if Rose plays like he is fully capable of, he will force Pat Riley to switch Wade onto him.
This will have a wearing down effect on Wade.
The Bulls must be like their Windy City brethren, Da Bears, and become monsters of the Midway.
I don't expect them to play defense like the Bad Boys (David Stern would never allow that), but they must make Miami work for every shot! Tough defense, over a seven game series, will wear down anyone who does not have the intestinal fortitude to endure. Ask the Lakers and Celtics if that is true or not.
Tom Thibodeau has to emulate another former Bulls coach (some guy named Jackson), who was able to coach the Bulls to the Conference Finals in his first year.
The expectations are creeping up the scale, and if they are to reach the heights some feel they are capable of, Thibodeau has to quickly learn his team's best strengths and weaknesses. It is often knowing where it is weak that actually lets the team become its best!
Kyle Korver, Taj Gibson, CJ Watson, Kurt Thomas, et. al., WILL NOT win the series for the Bulls. But what they must do is be able to be counted on for some production and NOT allow any games to swing heavily to the Heat's favor when they are in the game.
Maintenance minutes when reserves check in calls for hitting open shots, not yielding easy baskets, and few turnovers. Gentlemen, it's time to earn those paychecks in a HUGE way!
This one is simply about the mentality of EVERY Bull, from the stars to the last man off the bench. No retreat, no surrender.
Every shot has to be contested, every loose ball fought for, every missed shot has to be chased down. No plays can be taken off, no slacking off can be tolerated.
Though Miami has an edge in talent overall, the gap for all 12 players for both teams is not as large as some would suggest. The foxhole mentality has to be maintained from Game One's tip-off to the final buzzer of Game Seven.
Anything less, and Miami pulls away.
In short, the Bulls will need a few things to go their way in order to beat Miami. The Heat have a better team on paper. However, the Bulls will have to do a few things to get the better of the "Superfriends."
I end it as I started it: The Bulls have a puncher's chance to beat Miami, and they would not be able to let opportunity pass them by. Once Miami wins one title, it will be better equipped to win more!
By the way, if this series of articles started a bit of a firestorm, just wait until tomorrow, when I start to examine what teams in the Western Conference can BEAT the Lakers!