If the Miami Heat lose to the Dallas Mavericks it won't just be great for everyone who can't stand the Heat, but it will continue to give hope to the rest of us. When dissecting the Bulls loss to Miami In the playoffs I separate the games into three groups.
Games Chicago won convincingly (1)
Games Miami won convincingly (1)
Games that could have gone either way (3)
The problem, of course, is that Miami won all the games in category three which leads you to ask, could they really have gone either way, or would Miami's closers just consistently own us every year?
I'm sure Utah thought a bunch of its games against Chicago could have gone either way, but Bulls fans knew that with Michael Jordan on the team that wasn't true. Is it the same thing with Wade/LeBron?
Dallas is one win away from giving us hope
Dirk Nowitzki has put on great performance after great performance as a closer while LeBron and Wade have choked in the clutch. Quite frankly, if they played this bad down the stretch against Chicago, it would be the Bulls in the NBA finals.
Miami has gone through one of its stretches where they're imploding in front of our eyes, unable to get quality team play at the end, and their superstars are failing to do it in isolation.
It's been a reminder that these guys are beatable, and while they'll likely have a new set of ring chasers to join them next year, their biggest holes at PG and C aren't ripe with talent looking to win a ring at a discount.
Lets be honest, this Bulls team has plenty of work to do itself
Much like Miami is struggling to find itself now, the Bulls struggled to find themselves for almost the entire playoffs. They beat Indiana, perhaps the worst team in the playoffs in five games, but it was five games that were far closer than they should have been.
They beat Atlanta, the worst team in the second round, in six games, but there's no reason the Bulls should have taken six games to beat a team of undisciplined shooters and mediocre defenders.
They lost to Miami in five games, losing three in a row (and ultimately four) for the first time this season.
While I can't call the results of the post-season a disappointment, as an ECF performance is a quality first step for this team which contains virtually all new players, I also can't be that impressed with their performance given the path they had to go through to get there.
Ultimately, we saw the signs of their poor offensive performance all season long even though it rarely bit us in the ass in the regular season. We saw the team go through stretches where it simply could not score, and we were scared about it.
In the playoffs, the omens got worse as we struggled to score against teams we should have beaten easily, and Miami ultimately closed us out in five games. The Bulls are obviously mortal, because they've already been killed.
But Miami is mortal too
However, Miami is now also struggling with the same thing they've struggled with for much of the season. In the clutch, they can't score through a team effort. Their isolation offense shuts down, and they aren't able to force easy points through transition.
Miami hasn't been killed yet. I still feel they can win this thing, as they only have to win two home games in a row, but they look beatable. Their flaws are real, they didn't go away in the post-season. It wasn't a mirage built up through strolling through the regular season.
These guys can be beaten next year.
Chicago needs to strike though, because as constructed, they'll continue to be underdogs
Can the current Bulls cast beat Miami? If the Heat don't figure out how to close games and improve their team play, yes. Derrick Rose can play much better, the Bulls can shoot much better, and they can win.
However, they'll be underdogs again, and it's going to be tougher to get home court next season when the Heat aren't falling apart early in the season because they don't know how to play together and they're missing both Haslem and Miller.
To win, the Bulls likely need some more help.
There are a lot of ways to skin the cat; through trade, through S&T, through MLE (assuming the last two still exist).
Miami needs to clear out the ghosts in their head, Chicago still needs an upgrade in talent to help push them to favorite status. That upgrade is out there, and there's more than one spot it can come from.
Sure I can make a case for playing conservatively given the new CBA, but it's so much easier to make the case to make something happen and go for the ring.