Ideally, the Miami Heat would have preferred to take on the Brooklyn Nets in the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs, but will instead go up against the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls took care of business in Brooklyn by winning game seven and earned the ultimate travel package that will take them to South Beach.
The Heat have had no trouble disposing of the Nets in the regular season, so it is only natural that most expected Brooklyn to be a better matchup for the Heat. While the Nets do have some talented players, they have proven to be quite inconsistent, especially on the defensive end, which is something Miami has not had any trouble exploiting. Chicago, on the other hand, has proven to be a difficult opponent even without Derrick Rose in the lineup.
Most probably recall the end of Miami’s 27-game winning streak, a loss was delivered by none other than the Bulls. Chicago played an extremely physical brand of basketball, committing hard fouls and pestering the Heat in every way imaginable. LeBron James even complained to the media about the fouls after the regular season loss.
While Chicago’s defense and resilience is a tough nut to crack, the Heat has caught them at the perfect time. Most have now come to terms with the fact that Rose will not be back in the lineup, and the Bulls are facing a myriad of other injuries. Other than a spreading flu that has drained the energy of a lot of their players, Luol Deng is suffering from complications following a spinal tap. Joakim Noah has also been dealing with plantar fasciitis in his foot, something that was not really visible in game seven.
Putting the injuries aside, it is clear that Miami will be more fresh than their opponents. After a quick sweep, the Heat has had all the time in the world to rest up, whereas the Bulls are coming off a gruesome seven-game series.
Chicago is not an easy opponent, but Miami has definitely caught them at the right time.
Vytis is a Miami Heat and NBA columnist for RantSports. You can follow him on Twitter here: @VytisLasaitis