Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
The Bulls have the best record in the league. But do you think they would beat Miami in a seven-game series?
Steve Aschburner: Sure, Chicago can beat Miami in a seven-game series, if Derrick Rose is healthy in an MVP-worthy way for each of those games. And if Richard Hamilton stays healthy for the series, too, after a reasonable run-up of prep work and tune-up games to mesh with the other Bulls. And if Luol Deng’s damaged left wrist (torn ligament) doesn’t flare up at an inconvenient time – and the officials notice the next time LeBron James, Shane Battier and others go all NHL on him and intentionally whack him on the injury (Deng said that happened repeatedly on March 14). And if Carlos Boozer plays the team from south Florida as aggressively as he plays the crew from central Florida (23.3 ppg, 11.0 rpg vs. ORL to just 6.0, 8.5 vs. MIA). That’s a lot of if’s.
Fran Blinebury: Not if Dwyane Wade is closing like he did on Sunday, not if Chris Bosh is assertive and they keep feeding him the ball, not if LeBron James doesn’t shrink in the clutch. That’s a lot of ifs. Toss a coin. It’s that close.
Scott Howard-Cooper: It would not be a surprise, but Miami would be favored. Both are very good defensively, but the Heat are a little better on offense and, just as importantly, go in more directions for scoring. The Bulls are much better on the boards. That’s a great seven-game series you are making happen.
Shaun Powell: Certainly. Not only can the Bulls beat Miami, they can win a championship with the current cast. The issue is whether they can do either by playing a less-than-perfect series. Their margin for error is slim because they still haven’t found a designated No. 2 guy who’ll take (and make) the tough shots late in postseason games. We all know where the ball’s going, but Miami’s defense is enough to put the squeeze on Derrick Rose when it counts. Did it last year, with LeBron blocking Rose’s shot at the buzzer of the series-clincher. You think Rose trusts anyone else on his team in that situation? Not yet.
John Schuhmann: The Bulls’ record without Derrick Rose (10-4) and when they’re at a rest disadvantage (8-1) shows toughness and resiliency. They had those things last year, but they’re a better offensive team this season, in part because they’re getting more games and better efficiency from Carlos Boozer. So I’ve become more optimistic (yes, bullish) about their chances in an inevitable Eastern Conference finals series. But all of the caveats that Asch listed above still apply.
Sekou Smith: I think they are more than capable of handling that business. I do. But there is a part of me that still fears a playoff series turning into a two-man game for both sides and the Heat have their two (LeBron James and Dwyane Wade) set while the Bulls have just one (Derrick Rose, whose injury issues this season also worry me). Top to bottom I think the Bulls are better built for a distance race, which is essentially the NBA regular season. Meanwhile, the Heat have better top-end speed, which suits a team much better in the grueling sprint that is a playoff series. So no, I don’t they would beat the Heat in a seven-game series.