If you play for the Chicago Bulls, work for the Bulls, or could somehow hurt this team by daydreaming and losing focus, please go find another article to read about how the Miami Heat are going to beat your brains in game two, take that pent up hostility you get after reading it, and unleash it tonight.
For the rest of us looking to just distract ourselves for the next 12 or so hours until tip off..
Who would you rather see the Bulls play?
The Bulls split games with OKC in the regular season. However, their loss to the Thunder came in the season opener without Carlos Boozer and their victory came in December.
The Bulls were 2-0 against Dallas defeating them both with and without Boozer. Dallas was red hot early in the season when the Bulls played them on the road, and Chicago managed to cool them off.
I don't think the series results are too meaningful either way though. However, given a choice, give me Dallas.
The case to play the Thunder
The Thunder strike me as the far less disciplined team on both ends of the court. Russell Westbrook will go into stretches where he seemingly forgets Kevin Durant is on his team and completely kill the offense.
Defensively, this team does not rotate all that well, and they never seem to double team or trap. They'll let one guy kill them all game long over and over without making any adjustments. Dirk scored 48 points on 15 shots last night, and OKC was still trying to single cover him 15 feet from the basket rather than stopping and thinking that maybe it's time to run a second defender at him and force him to give up the ball.
On offense, the Thunder are primarily a jump shooting team. Kevin Durant is a tremendous player, and when he's hot he's as deadly as anyone in the league, but I like the Bulls personnel to use against him, and our swarming defense would manage.
I think the Bulls defense would perform well against OKC, and I think with patience on offense that they'd do well there too. Also, OKC is the only team left with considerably less experience in the playoffs than Chicago.
The case to play Dallas
Dallas has three basic things it does:
1: Gives the ball to Dirk in the mid post (really, he's the only player outside of Jordan I can think of that would ever inspire fear getting the ball and posting up 18 feet from the basket).
2: Hope for open threes
3: Have JJ Barea run around like a chicken with his head cut off while maintaining his dribble in the hopes that he can make something happen (nice job of it so far).
I think the Bulls could defend all three of those things pretty well.
Defensively, the Mavs don't match up well with Chicago at all. They have very little athleticism or size at the guard spots. Nor do they have much inside presence for help defense.
Derrick Rose would absolutely carve this team up on offense. They're the least equipped of everyone left in the playoffs (including Miami) to have any hope of stopping him.
Dallas is disciplined defensively, much more so than OKC, but they don't have the athleticism to impact the game well enough, and I think the Bulls would wear them down.
Do you really want to hear about Russell Westbrook winning a ring before Derrick Rose?
This would turn into Rajon Rondo part two where some dude who's not the best player on his team ends up earning a better reputation than Rose because he's got better teammates to help him.
This isn't to say Westbrook isn't a great player in his own right, because he certainly is. However, much like Rondo, Rose could easily mimic his role and do so better if he had the same supporting cast while neither guy could ever mimic Rose's role with Rose's cast.
I don't know why prolific stupid arguments bother me, but they do. (see Kobe vs Jordan as an example of a stupid argument proliferated by the media that makes no tangible sense whatsoever yet enough people are ready to make the case).
Dirk winning a ring might stop me from throwing myself off a cliff if Chicago lost in the finals
Dirk's a good guy. I like him a lot as a player, in fact 2 years ago, I said he'd be my sleeper candidate for the summer of 2010 if the Mavs blew things up, because he's so good that I thought we could win a title right away with him even if he only had a few years.
If we had Dirk instead of Boozer right now, I can't imagine how badly this team would be beasting opponents. We probably would have beaten Miami by 35 instead of just 21 (okay, probably not).
However, besides that, he's long suffered the reputation as being a soft jump shooter that you can't win with. Heck, I've even jumped on that bandwagon, and I still think it's largely true. It's hard to win with a guy who's a pure jump shooter, because sooner or later you typically go cold for a series.
That said, if someone other than the Bulls win, I hope it's Dirk forcing us to eat crow. Outside of accused wife beater Jason Kidd, the Mavs are a likable bunch. For those of us who became Kings fans for a few years in the playoffs during our dark era and wanted them to take it all when they were the most exciting team in basketball, Peja's also a likable figure.
Plus Tyson Chandler was a very likable guy while he was here, and while I thought dumping him was a good move at the time given the makeup of the team, nothing personal there.
JJ Barea is almost impossible not to root for watching him fly around the court like and carve up defenses, and Shawn Marion has the Peja factor for those, including myself, who loved watching the Suns in their heyday.
Saying all that, maybe it'd be better to root for the Thunder
Do I want to start dislike all those guys on the Mavs? I already dislike Westbrook and Perkins anyway, so maybe that's the better way to go.
Of course, thinking upon it more, Durant, Harden, Ibaka, and Sefolosha are all players I generally like, so maybe they aren't so bad after all. Plus Thunder/Bulls could be a tremendous rivalry for years to come as these are two young teams that should have some epic battles.
I could see the two teams squaring off in a battle of America's team much like the Suns and Kings were during the past decade. The team that neutral fans latched onto in the playoffs and wanted to see win. Chicago might have a leg up in that battle as Jordan built in a strong fan base, and Miami represents an opponent worth rooting against.
Maybe it'd be fun to see these two potential long term rivals go up against each other.
Okay, you caught me, I'm filled with anxiety. I'm trying to pass the time. I'm amped up, geeked up, ready for the Bulls / Heat tonight. This game is crucial, crucial I tell you. Bulls win, and I will be ready to say the Bulls are going to take this thing.
Miami wins, and all our fun and joy and happiness will be sucked out of our lives as they'll have the advantage in the series, and we'll need to sit with that uneasy feeling for another three days.
Go out and take this one guys. Real pre game thread to come later.