Monday, May 6, 2013


Holy crap. The Bulls are still in this thing. Congrats to Chicago for an epic Game 7 win over Brooklyn Saturday night. I watched with some friends, who shall remain anonymous, and an argument began over the historical ramifications of the Bulls' series win. It was as pointless and arbitrary as it sounds (even though I was on the side of it being epic, arguably the best display of toughness in the post-Jordan era). While it's hard to place Chicago beating comatose Brooklyn in the pantheon of playoff victories for the franchise, kudos to the walking wounded Bulls for playing with grapefruit-sized balls. Their inspired performance is worthy of a Miami series preview on Team Verite.

It's hard to imagine the Bulls having much of a chance in the series. I'll bet the farm the Bulls will not get swept. Realistic expectations? They lose in 5, including a straight beat-down in Game 1. I don't prescribe to the theory of "rust" being a factor for great teams in the NBA playoffs, and the Bulls will still be without Louie Deng. Here's what to look for in the series.

1) Will the Bulls be able to guard both Lebrizzle and D-Wade without Deng, assuming even when he returns, he's not 100%? Chicago, even without Rose, is one of the only teams in the league that can guard Miami one-on-one. The question is, with Hinrich also undoubtedly limping through the series, can Jimmy Butler bring it on the perimeter defensively in order to keep Chicago from having to help off shooters? Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers struggled shooting against the Bulls in the season split, largely because they were taking contested shots. The Bulls need a monster effort from Butler, and if the Bulls front-court displays the ridiculous toughness it showed in the Brooklyn series, Chicago will prevent buckets at the rim like North Korea prevents UN scientists from inspecting its nuclear power plants.

2) Speaking of Chicago's bigs, will they put on their big-boy pants offensively? Carlos Boozer, please don't be a bitch. Carlos has played his best against Miami all season, averaging 19 and 15. He needs to be a man all series. Will Joakim Noah also be able to be the Game 7 Iron Man from Saturday night? Probably not the entire series, but potentially enough to keep things interesting. Stat of the series: the Bulls grabbed almost 1/3 of their missed shots in the four previous games against Miami. Get offensive rebounds, wear the Heat out underneath, do not allow Lebron and Wade to start clowning in transition. Simple game, right?

3) Will Nate Robinson have Tyrone Biggums like energy and explode for a zillion points? Huge key for the series is the Bulls' ability to push around Miami's less physical front court. However, even if you get the expected production out of Boozer and Noah, you still need Crazy Nate to go bananas. Again, this Bulls team is playing without Deng, and possibly Hinrich, for Game 1 and potentially beyond. That doesn't mean Nate should take every shot he fancies, but he needs to average 20+ in the series for the exhausted Bulls. Miami is fantastic at rotating defensively because of it's super quick perimeter. Nate needs to get into the lane to create easy hoops for his bigs and himself, because Chicago won't be raining threes. If Nate makes good decisions and creates for himself and others under control, the Bulls have a fighting chance.

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