By Mike Loszach
This is why we watch. This is why it means so much to us. Moments like this. Talk about a dream scenario for us Bulls fans, this is it.
I’ll admit I remember watching “the decision” and hoping Lebron would tell the Nation he was coming to Chicago. But once he didn’t, I found myself that night dreaming up a possible scenario where the Bulls took on the NBA’s newest villian’s in the Eastern Conference Finals. Did I believe it would happen? Hell no.
I’ve mentioned it before on this blog, but coming in to the year I was hopeful the Bulls would win the Central Division and win one playoff series. I thought those were very fair expectations, and would be a great step in the right direction. But this team wasn’t ready to beat the Miami’s, Boston’s, and Orlando’s of the world.
But then something awesome happened. We just kept winning. Our homegrown point guard just continued to amaze us, and before we knew it, he was the front runner to win the MVP. Different players kept hitting big shots for us in the big games. First it was Kyle Korver against Miami. Later, it was Deng’s turn against Miami. Then it was our center, Joakim Noah, defending and shutting down Lebron James on the final possession. And wouldn’t you know it, the Bulls were 3-0 against the team that had assembled itself to win “not one, not two, not three…. You get the idea…. Championships.”
We became the #1 seed in the East and then the #1 team in the NBA. We did it with teamwork. We did it with defense. We did it with clutch play. We did it with effort. We did it with our bench. We did it with great coaching. And we did it with #1. The league MVP who has a bigger heart than anyone on that Miami bench.
This is why we watch. This is why we stay with the team through thick and thin. This is why we continue to watch the team on a daily basis even when that means watching guys like Ron Mercer, Eddy Curry, Fred Hoiberg, and A.J Guyton. Because when things go good, it means all that much more to you. We’ve seen a million bandwagon jumpers every time a Chicago team makes the playoffs. We’re seeing it with the Bulls now. We saw it in embarrassing fashion last year with the Hawks. And we saw it in 05 with the White Sox and 03 with the Cubs. Well hold your heads high, true Bulls fans. The rest of this season is going to be why it means so much to us. We’re back in the Eastern Conference Finals and we’re playing the NBA’s biggest villains. It’s going to be an amazing series and I’m pumped. We’re playing a great team and it’s going to be tough but I believe in the Bulls. Win or lose, I’m proud of the way the team has played this year. GO BULLS!
Stat of the Day:
Probable Miami Starters:
G – Mike Bibby, 3.4 PPG
G – D’Wayne Wade, 26.2 PPG
F – Lebron James, 26.1 PPG
F – Chris Bosh, 16.3 PPG
C – Joel Anthony, 4.2 PPG
Probable Chicago Starters:
G – Derrick Rose, 28.8 PPG
G – Keith Bogans, 5.4 PPG
F – Luol Deng, 16.7 PPG
F – Carlos Boozer, 11.8 PPG
C – Joakim Noah, 9.9 PPG
Current Line: Chicago (-2), Over/Under 181
I really don’t know how this series is going to go. There are so many “ifs” in this series that make it tough to predict. I mentioned what I thought the “keys” were for the Bulls in my last post so I don’t need to rehash those. I think Loul with do a solid job guarding Lebron. Of course he won’t stop him, but hopefully he can make things tough for him. Bogans/Brewer on Wade isn’t an awful matchup (granted, I’d love to switch places with Miami on that one). The point is, I don’t think those guys are going to back down defensively. That being said, they still will need plenty of help and team defense will be key.
Offensively, I like the some of the matchups for our guys. Rose against Bibby and Chalmers is a matchup that I really like. However, I would expect Miami to switch Lebron on Derrick late, and I’ll be honest, that is a matchup that makes me nervous. Lebron’s length is tough for Derrick. Korver also has a much better matchup than he did against Atlanta. He will have a much bigger role than he had against Atlanta and he will have some nice games. Finally, I like Boozer and Taj against their bigs. They both came on strong in the final games of the Atlanta series and I’m hopeful that they will stay hot heading in to this game. We’ll need them.
The Bulls are playing at home, where they have a posted a dominant record all season long. It’s going to be a close game and we have an MVP closer in Derrick Rose. The Bulls have played their best basketball of the postseason the last 5 quarters of the Atlanta series. I’m hopeful they will stay hot. Bulls get game 1 in a thriller.
Bulls 88 Heat 86
Get more amazing Chicago Bulls news, recaps and analysis over at Horns to the Hardwood.