The Bulls are too deep. Chicago’s defense is too good. How will the Heat stop the MVP, Derrick Rose? Seemingly every analyst on T.V. was picking the Chicago Bulls to beat the Miami Heat.
A 20 point win in game one of the series seemed to prove all these notions right. The Bulls shut down the lane, and forced the Heat into taking jumper after jumper. Chicago took Miami out of their comfort zone on defense and forced them to take outside jumpers while dominating the glass. The future of the series seemed troubling for the Heat.
Then game two came and Lebron showed all of the voters what a real league MVP looks like, scoring 29 points and leading the team to an 85-75 win. The series shifted to Miami and the Heat strove to do two things, one that hadn’t been done since February, and another that hadn’t been done all season.
In game three the Heat gave the Bulls their first back to back losses since February 5th and 7th , and in game four the Heat gave the Bulls their first three game losing streak of the season. My prediction before the series was Heat in six and by beating the Bulls for the 4th straight game on Thursday night the Heat did one better.
The Heat showed that they have more depth than they have been given credit for. With the return of Udonis Haslem to the lineup and the resurgence of Mike Miller the Heat finally could play with the 5 starters Pat Riley had envisioned last summer. The Heat played better than expected with Wade, James, Bosh, Haslem, and Miller on the court. Haslem not only brought his physical presence to the boards, but his ability to hit the mid-range jumper opened the lane for Lebron and Wade. Miller came alive in game 5 going 5-8 in the game hitting a pair of clutch 3’s down the stretch.
Throughout the series all everyone wanted to talk about was how good the Bulls defense was and how they would make it difficult for the Heat to score. And they did, but the Heat did not get nearly enough credit for their defensive prowess.
The Heat have bought into coach Eric Spoelstra’s scheme and have drunk the Kool-Aid. Coach Spo has talked these three superstars into locking down the defensive side of the ball and showed them how lock down defense will create offense. The past four games the Heat have showed what kind of team they can be when healthy. This is possibly the best basketball team to ever be assembled in any league.
I hope the voters for the MVP award have watched this series. Derrick Rose scored 117 points on 120 shots - that’s abysmal.
The reason for Rose’s poor performance was the defensive effort and tenacity that James played with all series. James played more minutes (180:09) than any player on the court and was able to not only lead the team offensively, but shut down the best player Chicago had to offer. Much can be said that the 6’8 James covering the 6’2’’ Rose isn’t fair, but for James to be able to match the speed and quickness of a much smaller player and demoralize him to the point where Rose said Lebron can cover him “easily” is astounding. Lebron looked like a man taking on a child this series and if he can limit Dirk in the Finals, I think the MVP voters will go into hiding.
Lebron James is not only the best player in the league; he is the best player on this planet.
The Heat will now move onto the Finals against the Dallas Mavericks with home court advantage. The rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals is sure to be a good series.
The Mavericks have a deep roster and a number of players who can be offensive threats. In this writer’s opinion the Heat have already beaten the best teams in the tournament in Boston, and Chicago. While the Mavericks are undoubtedly more talented than offensively than Chicago, they will not be able to stop the trio of Miami starters. Coincidently the Miami defense should be able to limit Dallas offensively.
The matchup of Lebron James on Dirk will be fun to watch. Wade and James will be able to drive and get their shots inside and force the Mavs into foul trouble. I think the Heat will win the series in five games (because I’m too scared to predict the sweep) and the franchise’s 2nd championship, on the same court they won their first.
Don't forget to follow us on Twitter @MIAHEATInsider and the author on his personal account, @NickdelaTorre.