The Indiana Pacers will battle the Heat tonight in a game seven. Anyone remember the Bulls playing the Pacers in a game seven? Were you worried at all that Chicago might lose that game? I expect Heat fans will (rightly) feel similarly tonight.
Indiana's exposed Miami's lack of inside presence far more so than Chicago has ever been able to do in route to getting to a game seven though a game six came with the Heat missing Chris Anderson and a whistle heavily favoring the Pacers. Anderson will be back, and while I don't necessarily believe in make up whistles and certainly don't believe in a fix, my guess is that Miami gets the lion's share of the calls in game seven.
However, the Pacers clearly have a shot to pull this off. One hot shooting game by their guys, one off game by the Heat, and well, LeBron, he's had a history of choking when the pressure is really on, and while I think he's past it, there's nothing I'd love to see more than LeBron fall back into old habits.
So all qualifiers about how unlikely I think it is aside, what if Indiana wins this thing?
If you're Chicago do you change anything about the way you're doing? Are you worried about getting past Indiana rather than Miami? Do you look at how Indiana beat Miami and try to acquire players to mimic that approach?
The Bulls are counting on Nikola Mirotic to come in here in a couple years and take over as the starting PF, but Mirotic is the type of PF that Miami would love to face. A guy who's going to shoot jumpers on the perimeter and not be a huge lane protector.
Of course, we have to ask ourselves, is Miami even going to be together in the summer of 2014? So much hinges on what the Heat are able to do over the next two years. If Miami somehow loses either of the next two titles what are they going to do in the off-season of 2014 when all three guys opt out?
Seems like it could be quite possible that it's an all or nothing with resigning them, and if I'm Miami LeBron's the only one of the three I'd really want to pay the 20 million a year they'll all ask.
The Miami Heat came together with a celebration, talk of unending titles, and all of a sudden have a very real chance of winning just one in three years in what should have been their best three years together.
I'd still place money on the Heat winning the title this year, but I thought they had an 80% chance before the playoffs started, right now, after watching them play it's no where near that high. They're struggling in a game seven against the Pacers, struggled at times against a Chicago team that was missing Hinrich, Deng, and Rose, and if they win, will have to fight through a far better team than either in the Spurs.
The best news for Chicago is that going into next season and the one after, the Bulls are a healthy Derrick Rose and one move away from winning this thing. It might be hard to make that move this off-season given their limited resources, but they're right there. We don't yet know if Rose will return like Rose, but if he does, Chicago's still got a nice window in front of it, and the best team in their path suddenly looks a lot more beatable and less sustainable than before.