The Bulls and the Celtics are clearly Miami's biggest obstacles in this year's playoffs, and with Miami posting a less than impressive 0-6 combined record against these two team thus far in the regular season (they play the Celtics one more time in April), many have argued that the Bulls and Celtics are overall better teams.
In fact, the insistence has been so deafening that some Heat detractors have went so far as to predict that Heat won't make it past either of these two teams should they meet in the second round.
Really, are the Bulls and Celtics that good?
First of all, I find it interesting how people can label the Heat as a team that "hasn't proven anything in the playoffs," yet they give the benefit of the doubt to a team (Chicago) with not a single starter that has ever played in a finals game. In fact, MVP-favorite Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah have yet to play in the second round.
Second, I sincerely believe that the anger and vitriol that Miami have inspired have led some people to simply ignore the Bulls flaws and emphasize the Heat's weaknesses in an attempt to prove that the Heat can't beat Chicago or that the Bulls are without their flaws.
But it's not true.
The Biggest Flaws of the Bulls
-Terrible free throw shooting. The Bulls are currently 26th in the league in free throw shooting. That's pretty low for a team that has its sights set on going deep in the playoffs.
-It's best player is a playoff novice. Sure Derrick Rose is a great point guard and probably the league MVP. But the playoffs are a stage that traditionally younger players need to make strides in before they take the next step.
-Bad shooting team. There is no way around it, this Bulls team can't shoot. Granted Rose and Deng have made strides to improve their jumpshots and have become better perimeter scorers, but outside of maybe Kyle Korver, there are few true marksmen on this team. If defenses decide to throw multiple defenders at Rose to get the ball out of his hands, can Keith Bogans be trusted to hit consistently from the field in a high pressure playoff position?
-And speaking of high pressure situation, let's say that the Bulls secure home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, they will then be playing as the favorites and teams like Miami and Boston will be the underdogs. Are we really sure the talent disparity is great enough that the Heat or Celtics couldn't win in Chicago? I don't think so.
The Biggest Flaws of the Celtics
-Injuries: Rajon Rondo just doesn't look good right now with his gimpy ankle and the O'Neal's are still riding the pine with injuries of their own.
-How much energy will they expend the remainder of the season and how will it play out in the postseason? Remember, the Celtics rested their veteran players in the final weeks before the playoffs and came into the postseason rested. If they do that this season, they lose home court possibly in both the third round and finals, thereby nullifying their season-long goal of HCA. It really is a catch-22 for this team. Play for HCA or play well in the playoffs regardless of seeding?
-I still say that the loss of Kendrick Perkins may destroy their interior toughness.
So clearly, the Bulls and Celtics are not exactly locks for the finals either, despite what the Heat haters want to rant from the park bench.