by Robel Wondimu ’13
The NBA Playoffs are coming to a close and now is the time for the remaining teams to get it together for one final grind to the championships.
Chicago Bulls (1) vs. Miami Heat (2)
This is the series we have all anxiously been waiting for and it should not fail to deliver. The Bulls are a capable team and with a home-court advantage, they should be able to win the series. For one, the Bulls had the best record during the regular season going 62-20, and they have the second best defense in the league thanks in part to big men Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. And as we all know, defense wins championships. The Bulls match their strong defense with a strong offense led by their point guard and league MVP Derrick Rose. Because of his explosive speed and raw ability to make clutch shots while under pressure, Rose should prove to be a formidable opponent who will create an immense imbalance when either Mario Chalmers or Mike Bibby of the Heat try to guard him. Chicago has a strong coach in Tom Thibodeau who won the Coach of the Year award because of his ability to rally his team to victory. This skill was exemplified in the Conference Semifinals versus the Atlanta Hawks. He should be able to do the same against the Heat. None of these individual or team awards would’ve been possible without team chemistry and the Bulls have exactly that. For example, during the final game against the Hawks the Bulls had five double digit scorers and Chicago has a bench ten deep, which the Heat lacks. More importantly the Heat’s game plan revolves around individuals rather than around a team; LeBron James and Dwayne Wade always have the ball in their hands and Chris Bosh always scores off of their rebounds. Basketball is a team sport and their lack of a ‘team first’ attitude should lead to their downfall. In fact, the Bulls have already proven themselves against the Heat, beating them all three times they played during the regular season. There is no reason the Bulls should not be able to repeat this in the playoffs as long as they stay cool and don’t panic in a close game or series. To have made it this far with all of these individual and team accolades, the Bulls must be doing something right and should be able to capitalize on their success in a hard fought series. These are two evenly contested teams, but ultimately the mismatch at point guard who is like the general of the basketball court, should lead to the Bulls winning the series and advancing to the championships. In Game 1, the Bulls beat the Heat because of their intensity and their ability to put a fresh new player on the court, due to the abundance of talent on their bench. Look for bench points to be the determining factor in Game 2 as well, because by the looks of it, the Heat’s individual’s first mentality and lack of fresh players on the coming off the bench could lead to a quick series for the Bulls.
Dallas Mavericks (3) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (4)
The Mavericks should win this series and they should win it quickly. Dallas is hot right now, having just swept the Los Angeles Lakers, the two time defending league champions. It looks like the lineup for the Thunder, which ranked in the top ten for offense and defense, could overwhelm the Mavericks, but that’s exactly what it looked like when before the Mavericks swept the Lakers. The Lakers have a much more experienced team than the Thunder and if the Mavericks were able to sweep the Lakers, I can’t see the inexperienced Thunder being able to do what the veteran Lakers were unable to. Also, because Dallas was able to sweep the Lakers they have been able to rest for a week now, whereas the Thunder went to into game seven versus the Memphis Grizzles in the Conference Semifinals. Now, they may only get one day off before they have to play again. This means the Mavericks will be fresh while the Thunder will be slow and sluggish, giving the Mavericks a physical and mental edge that could be the deciding factor in upcoming games. The Mavericks also recently went the NBA Finals in 2006, giving them championship experience that the Thunder lack, making the Mavericks more capable of handling the pressure. Overall, the Mavericks look like they have everything they need to make quick work of the Thunder and move on to the finals.
Chicago Bulls (1) vs. Dallas Mavericks (3)
I’m going to say Bulls on this one. They have the youngest league MVP in NBA history, 22 year old Derrick Rose, and the Maverick’s thirty eight year old point guard Jason Kidd; simply cannot compete. Rose will overwhelm Kidd and if the Mavericks attempt to double team him, Rose will use his skills to get the ball around to other teammates to win the game, just like he did in the games versus the Hawks. Furthermore, the only edge the Mavericks have over the Bulls is Dirk Nowitzki, but he shouldn’t give Carlos Boozer too much trouble, allowing for this to be an even matchup. Right now the Bulls are a young, charismatic team playing like they’re veterans. In the end, all of the mismatches between these teams should advantage the Bulls and lead to their long awaited, post 1990s Michael Jordan era victory.