Who you rooting for in the West?

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.

Final thoughts

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.

Comments

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  • i cant get a goodnight sleep waiting for this game to happen pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! win game2 take a 2-0 lead that will my make my week

  • In reply to jaymccray:

    Twothree.............STFU!

  • In reply to jaymccray:

    and what a long week for Miami that would be. People complained about the 2 days off, after tonight its 3. Can't blame that on Oprah, however LeBron & Co. having almost a full week to think about their collapse? Awesome.

  • While both teams can definitely score, I think the Bulls would better suited playing OKC cause of the point that you made Doug, they are more less not the better team than Dallas is even tho the Mavs are older. Dallas can match up well with Haywood and Handler on the front line not to mention with a little help from the Matrix and maybe even from Form who would be a nightmare match up because of his scoring from the perimeter along with their other good perimeter scorers. And at this point as far as the Heat goes... I know they will make their adjustments but if the Bulls continue to play this team with the type of energy and defense along with controlling the rebounds, a lot of the critics are going to scratching their heads at the outcome of this series wondering what has happened to the Heat. I have had a chance to watch the game again myself and like I have stated before... if the Bulls continue to play the Heat at the type of level that they played in game 1, this imo will be a short series in favor of the Bulls. I look for the Heat to get Haslem and their other big men involved throughout the entire game to stop the Bulls from killing them on the boards. Bulls don't need to fall too far behind the Heat cause at some point in the game, we all should realize that its gonna happen with how much of a beat down the Heat took in game 1. Like I said before... Bulls just need to take care of the home court and the game tonight will pretty much tell how the remainder of the series will go. I don't want to say what I'm thinking if the Bulls win game two cause anything can still happen with 2 games in Miami so I will just say the Bulls will be in firm control if they win tonight.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Please excuse typing errors.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Bring on Dallas. They are the much better matchup for the bulls. Noah and Gibson can guard Nowitzki. Rose will get to the rim at will. Korver could stay on the court for 30 minutes a game against them and match up with anybody by Barea.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Agree 100%. It took one of the greatest playoff performances by Dirk I have ever seen and a terrible game from Westbrook for the Mavs to win at home. Tim Legler says OKC is best team in playoffs and I agree. Great balance and athleticism. IMO, they will beat Mavs and also either Heat or Bulls in the Finals. Durant and Westbrook, not Lebron and Wade, are the future of the NBA. And the future may start this year. This is why I am hoping the Mavs somehow prevail notwithstanding.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    They barely escaped out of a series against Memphis, and then lost game one against Dallas.

    They certainly aren't playing anywhere near the best basketball in the playoffs right now. Of course, they're one of four teams left with a chance to win the ring, so they're obviously not playing badly either.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Quick PG's give the bulls (and everybody else) fits. That's the best way to beat the bulls defense along with great 3pt shooting. Westbrook and Durant are a lot more capable of doing that than Nowitzki and Dallas.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Dallas didn't play physically on Durant. Look at how Memphis defended him and took him out of his game so much. The Bulls with Brewer, Deng, Gibson can do that. For all his shooting talent, Durant doesn't drive enough.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    +100

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    The Bulls were the best three point defending team in the NBA this year. I don't think three point shooting is the way to beat the Bulls.

    The Bulls also fared quite well against the league's top point guards, so I don't think that's the way to beat them either.

    I think the best way to beat the Bulls is to have a physical interior defense, great passing, and offensive threats all over the floor.

    Dallas's offense scares me more (more threats than OKC and better passing), while OKC's defense is probably somewhat more physical (though neither team is overly physical).

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Dallas, like the bulls, has been playing at the same high level all season long. And the bulls handled them both times they played them. The matchups all work in Chicago's favor.

    OKC on the other hand, is succeeding in spite of the fact that their second best player (Westbrook) is submarining them for long stretches and costing them games. If Westbrook figures it out, they could be unstoppable.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Dirk was at about 75% the last time they played, & Peja wasn't a factor both times

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    let's me remind you that Dallas is a great 3pts shooting team. they beat LA because of that.

    And you say bulls can beat Mavs whereas you also said that bulls can't beat 3pts shooting team. You are contradicting yourself.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    I don't know why you waste your times trying to figure out who best match-up for bulls, OKC or Dallas.

    IMO the east will win this season easily. The only western team who could have won the championship are out namely Lakers and San Antonio. Chicago or Miami can beat OKC or Dallas at anytime.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Don't underestimate Dallas. OKC is young and has got lucky in the playoffs. But, Dallas is very experienced and they are in their prime except for Kidd and Stojakovic. Their biggest problem was defense always and that has changed with Chandler as the main guy. I think if Miami beats the Bulls, they are going down against Dallas definitely. Nowitzki also has the revenge factor going and is no more somebody who will take it easy.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    i think dallas is also a lil bit lucky. They were lucky gasol was mentally out of the game because he had a personal issue with his girlfriend. Besides Kobe and gasol were talking to each other since.

    Anyway, the main reason i think the west can't win is defense. OKC and Dallas, both scored more than 110pts yesterday game. Miami but most of all chicago can't allow that. they are way better in defense than OKC or Dallas.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    New bulls song.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brhFTbKn71E

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    What exactly about 121-112 makes anyone think either Dallas or OKC is playing any kind of defense? I realize Dirk and Durant can score like MoFos, but 121-112...in the playoffs?

  • In reply to bfranke:

    they didn't double Dirk at all to get the ball out of his hands...wtf?

    You know he wouldn't have that game against the Bulls

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Seriously, wtf. I don't really think you need to double Dirk** I'd put someone right up in his grill, and force him to drive. Dirk driving looks like the Frankenstein monster proceeding toward the hole. Joakim could have a sandwich, then rotate over in help and BAM!

    **"Double Dirk" sounds like a porn name

  • In reply to bfranke:

    they were in his grill, he was hitting shots. They needed to get the ball out of Dirk Digglers massive hands

  • In reply to bfranke:

    You obviously don't understand how good Dirk is. He is basically a taller and slightly slower version of Larry Bird.

  • In reply to bfranke:

    Off topic, the officials for tonight's game have been announced.
    Miami @ Chicago Monty McCutchen Jason Phillips Derrick Stafford
    Which isn't great.
    Against the spread they all favor the visiting team.
    McCutchen is one of the best for visitors 31-41-2
    Stafford is almost as bad 34-39-3
    Phillips is 36-37-3
    Unfortunately, this is a bad draw for the Bulls.

  • In reply to Waldock:

    Sounds like the fix is in? Call the cops!

  • In reply to Waldock:

    I rather play Dallas than OKC because i don't want Westbrook to get a ring before Rose.
    Doug is absolutely right, if the bulls win tonight's game, they will win the series. In this case bulls would be 2-0, if heat want to win the series, they will have to take 4 games streak (which is impossible) or force game 7(but they can'T be us in game 7 at home).

  • In reply to Waldock:

    Interesting - where do you get these ref stats?

  • In reply to ironsam:

    http://www.covers.com/pageLoader/pageLoader.aspx?page=/data/nba/referees/referees.html

  • In reply to bfranke:

    I like Dirk, so I've always liked the Mavs. Both teams pose challenges but also have weaknesses you can exploit.

    All in all a 7-game Mavs win would do quite nicely, thank you.

  • In reply to bfranke:

    Man, I can't remember the last time I was so nervous about a game...

    If we lose it's not that big of a deal..But if we win? If we win...

    Wow.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    exactlty, to beat the bulls you have to match their rebounding and be collective(great passsing) to desorganize their defense.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    It's going to be Dallas. They defend very well; much better than OCK, anyway.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Dallas would be the tougher opponent for the Bulls. They have the size advantage over the bulls in the front court, though they are not as athletic. They should be able to match the Bulls physicality, if not their energy. They also have veteranism without be an old team (except for Kidd, of course)like the Celtics.

    Also, they are the most motivated team driven avenge their collapse in 2006. Which is why they probably want a shot at the Heat instead of the Bulls.

    Thibs and the Bulls will more easily find a way to shut down whatever OKC tries to do and take advantage of their undisciplined style of play.

    Bulls/OKC might be more fun to watch, but if the Bulls can keep Miami out of transition offense they should be able to do it to OKC also.

    At this point, something about this year is starting to feel like the Mavs might be the team of destiny.

    For obvious reasons, I will be thrilled to play either, but I'd prefer the Thunder.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    The Mave have better 3 shooting than OKC, and Barea is a pretty quick PG when he spells Kidd or plays alongside him

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    so are you saying Magic could have beat bulls in playoffs ?

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I dont like picking an opponent based on who I think is easier to beat. But I like the idea of a Bulls Thunder finals....the new kids on teh block and all...

  • In reply to bullswin60606:

    +1 something very weak about that I agree

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    "they will beat Mavs and also either Heat or Bulls in the Finals. Durant and Westbrook, not Lebron and Wade, are the future of the NBA. And the future may start this year."

    Johnfriendly? Where the hell did they find you from? Scary!

    "Tim Legler says OKC is best team in playoffs and I agree." Obviously you're a OKC fan, not a Bulls fan. If you claim you are, you're masquerading as one. For such a lie you should be caught and flogged!

  • In reply to Normie:

    I happen to be a Bulls fan- and much longer than you. It is interesting that there are some people here (like you) who can't stand opinions other than their own. And, of course, they tag you with the ultimate insult, i.e. obviously you are not a Bulls fan. Reading your post you come off as an intolerant jackass.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Johnfriendly, I really hope they flog you!

  • In reply to Normie:

    I bet behind your big talk you're a 15 year old kid with pimples all over your ass.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    I hear LeBron has been fighting the flu since he arrived in Chicago for the showdown with the Chicago Bulls. They say he wasn't able to get rid of it and he's still fighting it going into this game tonight. They say he's tried everything and they haven't worked. Can someone out there come to the help of King James?

  • In reply to Normie:

    +1

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    OKC the best team? Wow. Can't say I agree with you there. Westbrook has been inconsistent during the entire playoffs and they're poor defensively. Robinson on Abrams was comical. I picked the Mavs in five.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Are you out of your mind ? there's no way OKC can beat Bulls. Get real man, bulls are way better in defense than them and are more versatile on offense.

    Bulls can't let a team score 120 pts on their heads. Moreover, it isn't hard to force westbrook to take bad shots because he is already selfish. Forcing westbrook to be selfish is a good mean to beat them.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    I disagree with you Doug about facing Dallas. I would rather face OKC.
    They are kind of lucky to be here. They got a break on the 3rd OT game in Memphis which Memphis should have won. And they got a break on a more fragile Denver team in their 1st game with a basket interference call. I think OKC is a mentally weak team along with inexperience. Perkins is better than Miami Centers but not by much.
    The Bulls are mentally stronger than OKC and Durant/Westbrook(nice guys) are not the smartest player duo right now(maybe in a few years).

    Dallas has couple of things which will give Bulls defense fits. Crazy 3 pt shooting, Stretch 4, ball movement on offense. Plus, Nowitzki has been re-energized by Chandler's presence who can do the dirty work Dirk doesn't like to do. Also, I think they are more focussed and have their urgency factor going, learnt their failure lessons.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Didn't we comfortably beat this same team with Dirk, on his home floor?

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I don't care who we face in the finals, but we have to get thru the Heat 1st who nobody likes due to how the Big 3 came to be and hurt their small market teams and being a non GM move.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I hope the heat will play haslem during the rest of series because it would be a huge mistake for them. Haslem is out of shape, he hasn't really played since his injury. He won't be efficient for them like Magloire in game 1 or Jermaine O'neal with the celtics. You can't put in the playoffs someone who hasn't played for a long time. It would be a weakness for the team. That's why Thibs isn't playing Butler,Pargo and Lucas III in this post-season.

    Let's hope Haslem plays, trust me his legs aren't ready to grab a rebound in front of Noah.

  • I've followed Stojakovic's career since his days at Sacramento and he developed the reputation of being a "DOG," He would kill you if you play soft and don't get in his face. We have the players to cause him to shit!

  • Unrelated question about the West...It is about the Bulls. I think Deng has more BB IQ than LeBron in understanding and executing complicated offensive/defensive schemes. Off-course, LeBron has better BB skills and athleticism.

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