Sunday, May 15, 2011

ECF Preview: Battle of the Flawed Teams

Derrick Rose will need to step against Miami's lengthy defense. 
The Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls are beginning their Eastern Conference Finals series as I type this.  I'm just going to quickly describe why I believe the Miami Heat are going to be victorious.

Miami's defense is the key.  Chicago's offense is incredibly flawed, relying on one player to do more heavy lifting than any team in recent memory.  Derrick Rose was my MVP, and as I said before, that isn't necessarily a good thing for Chicago's team success.  It's incredibly difficult to win a title if your team is so flawed that you require one player to do so much in a certain area of the game, regardless of how great that player is.  The Heat defense is so quick to react and so long on the perimeter that I can't see Chicago's offense having any continuity, meaning the Bulls will not perform well when they eventually call on their sixth and seventh best players to make big plays.  Luol Deng is the next best wing player Chicago has, but he doesn't handle the ball, and LeBron James has been playing great defense this year.  Statistically, the Bulls are poor when it comes to taking care of the ball- mainly because they have no ball-handlers aside from the MVP- and that means trouble against James and Dwyane Wade.

The Bulls can expose a Heat flaw, however.  Miami's defense is at its best when it has slender bodies in the middle that can move quickly and cover space- when they have their small lineup in.  The only thing the Bulls do above average is offensive rebound with tough guys like Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah; each of them should be able to push Joel Anthony and Chris Bosh around and score off putbacks in the paint.  That's how Chicago is going to stay in this series offensively.

Defensively, Chicago's players arrange themselves in unison beautifully to block a player's movement.  It's beautiful and it should make things difficult for James, Wade and Chris Bosh.  Miami's offensive output is going to rely on the trust James and Wade have in their teammates.  James needs to trust that when he passes to James Jones, Jones will either take the open shot or pass the ball to Wade, who will be set to attack a scrambled defense that James just put into chaos with a drive off a pick-n-roll.  It doesn't seem like the Heat have had a problem with this thus far, which is why I think Miami's offense will be just fine.  They have the two best offensive players in the series; all they need to do is not waste that talent advantage.

I'm taking Miami in six games.  Chicago doesn't have the interior isolation scorers necessary to take advantage of the Heat's biggest flaw.  Miami has the speed on defense that will expose Chicago's biggest flaw of being too reliant on one creator.  

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