In the latest edition of good versus bad, the Chicago Bulls will play host to the Miami Heat as the Eastern Conference finals will begin Sunday night. The United Center will finally have that feeling it has been missing since 1998, the last time the Bulls played this far into the playoffs.
In what seems to be another classic matchup of talent versus team, the best team in the regular season is again being disrespected. The Bulls just win games, it may not be pretty and it may not have style, but guess what? A win is a win is a win, the last I checked you do not get an extra half win for having more highlights.
The first thing the Bulls must do is not fall into the hype of three vs. one, as in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh against Derrick Rose. From an all-star perspective, that angle is correct, from a Chicago perspective it needs to be three vs. 12.
Coach Tom Thibodeau, all year, has drilled his players into a team concept, from his MVP point guard down to the last man on the bench, credit is never accepted as an individual, but as a team. More than ever, the Bulls need to believe in their system and trust each other.
One thing these two teams have in common is defense, both being in the top six for points allowed during the regular season. These games may be ugly offensively and that should be better off for the Bulls.
Only allowing the Atlanta Hawks to score 20 points once in four quarters, during the series clinching Game 6 should give the Bulls more of that confidence they seemed to have been lacking against Indiana and most of the Atlanta series.
After such a dominating performance in clinching the Atlanta series the Bulls acted as if they have been there before, it was just another workmanlike victory and time to get ready for the next round.
Heat players were running around the court screaming at the crowd, hugging each other, and high-fiving as if they were about to cut down the nets. Then the camera cut to LeBron James down on one knee having a moment to himself. Nike should thank him, he just made their next commercial.
They may have beaten the Boston Celtics, but you would only know that from the jerseys being worn. Anybody that follows basketball knows that Boston has not been the same team it has been the past couple of seasons.
Tired legs, old backs and throw in a Rajon Rondo elbow injury left the Celtics looking like Sylvester Stallone in the latest Rocky movie. All heart, but not enough gas left in the tank.
Another missing piece to the Boston puzzle was a certain defensive guru assistant coach, who is now a defensive guru head coach, Tom Thibodeau. He was the mastermind behind the Celtics defense against LeBron in the past. While LeBron has better sidekicks this time around, Coach Thibodeau will have his team ready, willing and able.
Most of the United States somehow found its way back on the Heat bandwagon, not to mention how heavily Las Vegas odds-makers feel about Miami winning this series. Chicago would have it no other way.
“I can feel it coming in the air tonight, Oh Lord
I've been waiting for this moment, all my life, Oh Lord
Can you feel it coming in the air tonight, Oh Lord, Oh Lord.”
-"In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins
It has had this feeling all season and not because of a pregame warm-up song.