A week before the real superbowl, the Bulls will have their regular season superbowl against the Heat. Miami is the team the vast majority of experts are picking to win the NBA title while the Bulls will perhaps be their strongest competition. How important is this game to these two teams?
The #1 seed at stake
The Bulls and Heat play each other four times in the regular season. If either team can win three of four, they'll have a huge leg up in their quest for the #1 seed by gaining two games in the standings and the tiebreaker. The bulls presently have a one game lead in the loss column which would will be eliminated or extended by today's results.
Feeling each other out
Both teams come back with similar core pieces but slightly different looks. Whether or not the teams can really feel each other out will depend on who can actually go for the Bulls.
Will the Heat have to defend a Rose, Hamilton, Deng, Boozer, Noah lineup or will they get off relatively easy? Can Derrick Rose be the most dominant player on the court after spending much of the season trying to get teammates involved?
Will the Bulls till be able to corral Dwayne Wade using Richard Hamilton rather than Bogans/Brewer? How will the Bulls slow LeBron James who ate them alive in the ECF?
Keys to the game
Elite help defense required
One of the Bulls greatest strengths of the Bulls is interior help defense, and the Bulls will need to have tremendous trust, quick rotations, and excellent help in order to get past Miami.
Wade and LeBron are too good to contain one on one, so whether or not the Bulls can slow them will be based largely on how well Joakim and Omer help.
Be decisive on offense
The Heat have tremendous perimeter athleticism. They can provide quick double teams on Derrick Rose and still recover. The Bulls can counteract their speed with quick passing and decision making, but they'll need everyone to move quickly without hesitation and take the first quality look that comes their way.
Ball control is key
The Heat bring one of the best transition games in the NBA into town. Wade and LeBron are both nearly unstoppable on the break, so the Bulls will need to limit turnovers and get back on defense in order to limit the Heat's fast break and early offense opportunities.
The Heat are at home, and they'll be the favorites in a game that they'll clearly take seriously. That said, I don't think these teams are separated by much if the Bulls can trot out their full lineup.