After watching Derrick Rose take it to the Hawks for six games, I’m still not ready to annoint him as the “Playoff MVP” (if such an award existed). LeBron James, though I have my distain for him, is playing out of his mind well and the Heat have gone 8-2 so far in the playoffs, having no problem disposing of 76ers and the Celtics in 5 games.
Rose and the Bulls haven’t had a road quite as easy, though they are 8-3. Indiana gave them all that they could handle in the first round, keeping many of the games close, but losing in the closing minutes due to their lack of experience and not having a good “closer” to put games away. Granger is a good player, but he’s not the type of talent that should be a number one option on a team.
The Heat will most likely put Dwyane Wade on Derrick Rose, as he has the perfect body and game to matchup with Rose. Wade has the strength necessary to stop Rose from steamrolling to the basket every time.
The Bulls are going to need more from Carlos Boozer. Boozer has only scored more than 20 once so far in the playoffs after having posted 20 points per game and 10 rebounds a game for the last four seasons. With Bosh’s improved play, Boozer is going to have to go toe to toe with the former Raptor and attempt to put up at least 20 a game. The Heat’s defense is strong, but it is mostly predicated upon strong perimeter defense. They have Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Erick Dampier on the interior. It really hurt that they lost Udonis Haslem for the season because he is a solid interior role player. Getting him back next year will make the Heat only tougher still.
Luol Deng is also going to have to have a big series — on both ends of the court. Deng outplayed Josh Smith in 4 of the 6 games in the Hawks series and he did a fair job on Granger in round 1. He’s beginning to establish himself as one of the league’s best small forwards and with his performance so far in this year’s playoffs, he is looking like he is worth the massive contract he signed. While no one ever has a great answer for LeBron, Deng’s length and speed should equip him to play pretty decent defense.
The Bulls are going to have to play perfect in all areas and run on all cylinders to beat the Heat. Because both Brewer and Bogans are ineffective scorers, the Bulls will begin to run into problems with Rose seeing double and even triple teams. While he effectively passed out of them against the Hawks, the Heat are much tougher at this type of defense. LeBron and Wade are both effective swarming the ball and forcing turnovers.
Though I like Derrick Rose as much as the next guy, it’s difficult to see the Bulls winning this series. I think the Heat take it in 6 games, and possibly 5.