On the eve of the much anticipated Chicago vs Miami ECF, i hooked up with my fellow Hoop Addict and Avid Fan, Reservoir God from the Miami Heat Index for a little friendly debate. For those you on twitter , you can catch him at MIA_Heat_Index and me at bigshotron. Let the games begin!!
To: Reservoir God (http://miami-heat-index.blogspot.com/)
From: Big Shot Ron
First and Foremost, let me start this off by saying how much I am looking forward to a classic series with your Heat. 3 great players in their prime in Rose, James, Wade. Boozer and Bosh, while flawed, All-Star players in their own right. I congratulate you on vanquishing Celtics to help the changing of the guard in the NBA. This has the makings of the Celtics-Pistons series of the late 80s. While I wasn't a big fan of The Decision, this is how it should be. So now that we got all of the pleasantries out of the way. Let me respectfully tell you why the Bulls will win this series in 7 games. Don't worry, when this is over I will make your "Not Walking through That Door" list is as buster-free. I am fully confident we won't have a repeat of Bulls-Magic in '96 or Lakers-Spurs in '01 and should be a lot of fun. Now let’s get to why the Bulls will advance
1. Who is the 4th man? We know about DW3, LBJ, and the oft-criticized and Bosh but as I look at the rest of your roster. I don't see a Jeff Teague, JJ Berea who steps up and plays well for what should be a 6 or 7 game series. The Bulls are too good on defense, too well coached, too deep for you all to beat us 4 times with 3 guys getting 70% of the points. Do you believe Chalmers, James Jones, or the oft injured Mike Miller has it in them to come up big? I don't
2. I like Spolestra, I like Thibs better: There is a reason that such a "limited" offensive team hasn't lost two games in a row all season. No coach in the NBA has been better at game to game adjustments and maximizing talent than the Coach of the Year. He has pulled the trigger and made the right move every time. Despite this being his first year in the big chair, he has a wealth of deep playoff experience which has balanced out Bulls relative lack of experience. I trust he finds a way to limit Wade and Bosh (not stop) enough and put it the hands of Bosh and someone else
3. And speaking of Bosh: He spoke after game 3 in Boston of being overwhelmed by the nerves and the moment of that game. Now we are in Conference Finals, a place he has never been, the moments are only going to be bigger. He has the talent but does he have the stomach for it? When that United Center crowd is seeing red, will he be able to stand up? For the Heat to beat us, the BIG 3 are going to have to be great almost every game, and can't afford Bosh to 'no-show' more than once. In the back of a lot of Heat fans min, they are wondering about him. And with good reason
4. It’s not a question of Can you stop Rose: No one in the league can do that, when he is hitting the J, Rose (along with Dirk) are unguardable. My question to you Mr. Reservoir is not Can You Stop Rose but who do you play on him? Do you risk wearing out Wade? Do you give Mario Chalmers 30-35 min a game with Bibby as the figurehead starter? Questions with not a lot of great answers. Your Heat are a terrific defensive team and in the last meeting in March played Rose well down the stretch but now you have to come up with an answer for 6 and 7 games. So who's it going to be?
5. Finally, there is No place like Home: This series will be sliced and diced by all the experts. I know you got metrics from Chicago to Fort Lauderdale on how Heat wins this. With all of that being said, my final point is that I do not believe the Heat can beat the Bulls in the United Center. Yes, Heat won game 4 in Boston and LBJ closed game 5 in big-time fashion but that was a worn-down, tired Boston and it doesn't erase all the of the Heat's struggles to close games (although end of game execution will be crucial). This is the toughest place to win in the NBA and while the Heat's 28-13 on the road is nothing to sneeze at. I like our chances in Miami a lot more than yours in the United Center.
To: Big Shot Ron (http://bigshotron.blogspot.com/)
From: Reservoir God
You're right about one thing, Ron - this is how it should be. The only things that could make this playoff run better for the Miami Heat would have been beating the New York Knicks in the first round and then have the Los Angeles Lakers waiting for them in the NBA Finals after running through the Chicago Bulls. That's right, I said it. "Running through the Chicago Bulls." Let me address your five points to illustrate how it will be done...
1. Who cares about the 4th man? One of the biggest myths in the NBA is that depth matters. The Pareto Principle rules the NBA. Eighty percent of wins in the league are produced by 20 percent of the players, which means three players on each team. The Spurs, Celtics and Lakers just dominated the previous era of the NBA with three players and it will be no different for the Three Kings in Miami. Of course, I understand why Bulls fans would want to dismiss this notion - it doesn't work so well for their team. But if Dwyane Wade,LeBron James and Chris Bosh aren't enough for you to worry about, then I'll give you two more players that could be the fourth man to keep Tom Thibodeau up at night - Mario Chalmers and Joel "The Warden" Anthony. I'll address Chalmers a little later so let's focus on The Warden for now. He was the fourth most productive Heat player in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and he'll give Carlos Boozer nightmares when he locks him down in the Eastern Conference Finals.
2. Spoelstra > Thibs, but coaches rarely matter: Coaching is one of the most overrated factors in basketball. Yes, Thibodeau was anointed Coach of the Year by the Dead Basketball Poets Society, but the fact of the matter is that he had little to do with that. The players on the Bulls' roster performed just as well as they did last season when Thibodeau wasn't their coach. The exception is Derrick Rose, who improved because that's what young players do. The only thing coaches have a direct impact on is how many minutes their players gets. Thibs only gave 61 percent of the available minutes to the most productive Bulls players at each position (PG - Rose, SG - Brewer, SF - Deng, PF - Gibson, C - Noah). Spoelstra played his five best players for 73 percent of the minutes available (PG - Chalmers, SG - Wade, SF - James, PF - Bosh, C - Anthony). Thibs' 10-player rotation is about two players too long and will cost the Bulls in this series.
3. Welcome to The Bosh Pit: Bosh just finished going toe-to-toe with Kevin Garnett and outplayed him. KG's a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. Boozer? He's just a two-time all-star with a measly seven percent chance to make the Hall of Fame. Bosh will be up to the challenge, but it won't be coming from Boozer. He'll have to get it done with Joakim Noah guarding him. Noah's a great defender, but as my man Alfredo Arteaga said on the Miami Heat Talk podcast, KG may be the best defensive power forward of all-time. And if you think he's washed up, well, he finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting and second in Defensive Win Shares. Joakim Noah finished 15th in the DPoY voting and 28th in Defensive Win Shares. Bosh will roar in this series.
4. Who will stop Rose? Three words - Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk: Chalmers has had Rose's number ever since he sank a cold-blooded three in his face after Rose choked at the free throw line with the 2008 National Championship at stake. Win Score is the statistical model I use to measure player performance. It gives players credit for points, rebounds, steals, assists and blocks and debits them for turnovers, fouls and missed shots. Based on Win Score, Chalmers has outplayed Rose six times in nine head-to-head matchups. If you don't like Win Score we can use the NBA Efficiency rating. Hoopsstats.com tracks head-to-head matchups for all players based on the NBA Efficiency rating used by NBA.com. Chalmers had a higher NBA Efficiency rating than Rose in five of their nine matchups and tied with him once. Chalmers is the easy answer to the question, "who will play Rose?" He'll go under screens and the Heat will force Rose to shoot over the top. The question is whether Rose will be able to match Chalmers jumper-for-jumper. Rose shot 38 percent from 16-23 feet and his shooting efficiency from three-point land was 49.8 percent. Chalmers shot 45 percent from 16-23 feet and his shooting efficiency behind the arc was 53.9 percent.
5. It's Oprah's house, the Bulls are just visiting: You don't believe the Heat can beat the Bulls in the United Center? Didn't I just see the mediocre Atlanta Hawks walk out of there with a win almost two weeks ago? Surely you believe the Heat are a better team than the Hawks. It may be tough to book a date in the United Center (unless you work for Harpo Studios), but I don't see the Heat having a problem winning there. As for the Bulls winning in Miami, there are only two teams left in the playoffs that are undefeated at home - the Heat and the Mavericks.