Before the title of this post send anyone into a frenzy, let me first state that I believe the Bulls are a great team. They're one of the elite in the NBA, and they display a ton of the characteristics that make for championship teams. I truly believe they have what it would have taken to defeat the Lakers and Celtics for last year's NBA Championship.
This year is not last year, however.
Let's be honest, Chicago. The Heat are just too good for the Bulls to defeat. The Heat are an offensive juggernaut -- we knew this coming into this series. The problem, however, is that somewhere along the way, the Heat decided to show that they may be a defensive juggernaut as well.
It's hard to admit, and in fact, there's a huge part of me that hopes I'm wrong in all I believe, and that the Bulls prove me wrong.
Now I know there will be tons of people who will be quick to state that the Bulls have held the Heat under 90 points in two of the first three games, and that the Bulls haven't played their best other than their game one win. Those points are indeed valid, but at some point, Bulls fans just need to face the fact that the Miami Heat are as good as they were expected to be.
True, the Bulls haven't shot the ball well -- but isn't it fair to examine the possibility that the Heat defense is the reason for that, and not just "bad luck"?
True, the Heat have only been held under 86 points five times this season, and twice the Bulls have been the team to do so -- but the Heat held the Bulls at 85 points in two of the first three games of this series. I'm not mathematician, but if you can't score more than your opponent, it's pretty safe to say that they're going to win.
The most important factor in this series, though, has been one glaring factor, that is too hard to ignore: the Bulls have lacked that killer instinct they had in game one.
For the majority of games two and three, the Bulls have looked rather hesitant in their offense. All too often, shooters have been reluctant to take an open shot, three-point attempts seem more rushed for the Bulls than ever, and opportunities at point-blank range have often resulted in a missed lay-in rather than a forceful dunk.
How many times have we seen Carlos Boozer or Joakim Noah go for a lay-in from about two feet out only to see the ball clank off the backside of the rim? Far too often, and if you want a great example, go back and watch the first five minutes of game two. The Bulls have to start acting with urgency and power. Those point-blank shots have the ability to be statement-making, momentum changers. If Udonis Haslem, of all people, doesn't feel the need to be shy around the rim, then neither should any of the Bulls.
Also, if anyone has seen Kyle Korver, please let him know the Playoffs have not only started, but are in full swing. Korver is another great example of why the Heat are up 2-1. Korver has done virtually nothing. Korver has nine points in this series -- NINE. Nine points from a guy who many fans were once lobbying to be in the starting lineup.
Korver is a prime example of the Bulls mental issues in this series. Korver is the Bulls three-point specialist, and anyone who knows anything about NBA basketball knows that players of the same type of designation are often referred to as having "ice water running through [their] veins." Korver has looked more like "ice cold". I would even venture to say that Kyle Korver has looked flat-out intimidated throughout most of the playoffs. If the Bulls want to have a chance, somebody needs to start smacking Korver around and tell him to make a shot, and then make another. We're not talking about a rookie with a case of the jitters here. Korver has been to the NBA Playoffs five times now, and has averaged about nine points per game until this year. It's time to step it up.
Meanwhile, the Miami Heat -- well, there's not much they have shown to be overmatched with. They were out-rebounded in the opening game of this series and promptly fixed that. They have shot, consistently, at around 47 to 50 percent throughout this series. The Bulls have yet to shoot better than 43 percent in a single game. Defensively, the Heat have held Derrick Rose in check, while the Bulls have had trouble containing even Udonis Haslem of all people.
It's unfortunate that in the greatest Bulls' season in over a decade, the Bulls have been met by what is arguably one of the most talented teams in NBA history. There's no doubting the Bulls could have beaten LeBron's Cavaliers, Wade's Heat, or Bosh's Raptors -- heck, the Bulls probably could've beaten the Celtics team that won it all just three years ago.
Unfortunately, for the Bulls, this is not last year. Unfortunately for the Bulls, they've run across a team that looks to be an unstoppable force.
It was a nice idea before this all started -- the Bulls' heart versus the Heat's star-power. Since the beginning of the 2010-11 NBA season, a vast majority of fans outside of Miami have been waiting for the moment the "Big Three" fall. In Chicago, we were sure our Bulls would be the heroes of the NBA and knock-out the Miami mega-power.
At this point, though, I think one thing is becoming more obvious: A big heart gains much respect, but in the NBA, talent wins championships.