NBA Playoffs 2011: Chicago Bulls' Roadblocks To an NBA Championship
Getting to the promised land in any sport's postseason is not without strife. As good as a team and its individuals may look during the regular season, the playoffs are a new beast.
The Chicago Bulls, with their 60 wins and top seed in the Eastern Conference, will have the same potential roadblocks.
Even with an unexpected amount of wins, the Chicago Bulls have some issues that could be exposed, and by six very good teams.
Orlando Magic: Size Matters
Chicago has had its issues with some of the top centers in the game, namely Dwight Howard. This season alone, Howard has had no less than 20 points and 10 rebounds in a game against the Bulls.
The Magic played a pretty solid game without Superman on April 10, losing 102-99, and had a game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer reversed after review.
This is a potential second-round matchup for Chicago, and Howard could be the reason Orlando gets an upset.
Oklahoma City Thunder: The Other Young Studs
Another team on a similar burst to the top of the league is the Thunder from O.K. City. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have blossomed into some of, if not the best, players at their positions, and have a newfound grit in the paint with the addition of Kendrick Perkins.
If this is who Chicago sees in the Finals, fans could be witnesses to a potential postseason rivalry for the next five years or so a la Boston-Los Angeles.
Boston Celtics: Youth vs. Experience
Yes, the Celtics are limping into the playoffs.
Yes, the chemistry has been an issue.
Yes, they played .500 ball last season heading into the playoffs.
Yes, they could have won Game 7 in the NBA Finals.
Boston knows how to win in April and May. Take the Celtics lightly or shrug them off, and you will get burned. The Celtics have a top team in the league with a killer instinct. Chicago could show its youth as an advantage, or as a disadvantage.
You cannot teach postseason experience in professional sports. Boston has it, Chicago does not.
San Antonio Spurs: Vanilla Good
The Spurs simply win. They have some spurts of action, but for the most part beat teams with a methodical approach that coach Gregg Popovich has instilled in his team.
Whether it is Tim Duncan or Gary Neal, the Spurs buy into a team concept that can win with solid defense or the occasional breakneck pace.
San Antonio also has that playoff experience that is invaluable.
Miami Heat: Talent Against Talent
LeBron James and Chris Bosh took their talents to South Beach to team up with Dwyane Wade. Expectations soared and so did the pressure. The Heat have had more ups and downs because of the hoopla, but appear to be the clear No. 2 team in the East after demolishing Boston 100-77 this past Sunday.
A conference finals pairing between these two teams would showcase a lot of talent, including the depth of talent for both teams.
Miami may have a plethora of talent between its trio, but can its bench match Chicago's?
Los Angeles Lakers: The Champs
To be the champs, you have to beat the champs.
The best way to do that would be to topple the Lake Show, who are also struggling like Boston. As long as Kobe is still a killer and Pau Gasol is the best power forward in the game, then L.A. is the favorite in the west.
If Chicago faces the Lakers in the Finals, it will be a series that Chicago could be overwhelmed in. Matching up against a team looking for another three-peat with the best player of the last decade could prove too much for the Bulls.