Any thoughts that the Heat might overlook the Bulls or be focused on ring night can be thrown out the window. The Heat brought out the football pads in a move that may have been a bit melodramatic and designed more for a pre-emptive whine for calls than effective practice method.
LeBron noted "We don't like them, they don't like us," James said of the Bulls after the drill. "It's not unheard of. We all know how it is.". Of course, LeBron is still probably whining about Kirk Hinrich "tackling" him. By tackling, I mean LeBron bowling Kirk over like a freight train and Hinrich grabbing on to avoid would have likely been a massive concussion.
Or perhaps when LeBron threw Mohammed to the floor in frustration while walking down the court, and then Mohammed got up and pushed LeBron who then went flying 10 feet backwards as if he got hit by a wrecking ball. I'm sure he's already been training.
That's the best part about the Bulls / Heat rivalry for me. It brings out my inner meat head just a little bit. It's personal with the Heat. I dislike their theatrics, their flopping, their pansy style of play.
They're basketball evil. The most skilled team in the NBA still trying to cheat the system.
Oh, and yes, I'm a hypocrite. I cheered for Dennis Rodman while he flopped his way to drawing fouls and technicals on opponents that would make me throw stuff at my TV if I were a fan of the other team.
The Heat are evil simply because I'm a Bulls fan, not a Heat fan, but that's a real rivalry for you. The fact that a rivalry this good gets to air on opening night with no pleasantries, no camaraderie between the teams, but instead true, passionate disdain for each other is awesome.
It's great for the NBA. It's great for the fans.
You want some game break down? It's really pretty easy.
These teams have played a crapload of times. The Bulls will try to single team LeBron on the perimeter to entice him into jumpers and hope he's not hot from outside. They'll help down low with their big men. Everyone else gets a single team all game long.
They'll probably leave trap on the double team and leave Bosh open to beat them more times than not. They'll play tough, physical, and annoy the crap out of Miami. The Heat will whine and bitch that the game is too rough, overselling every little bit of contact, because that's what they do.
On offense, the Bulls will search for anything that isn't Derrick Rose and probably not find a whole lot of answers. How close they come to victory will likely hinge not just on whether they knock down their open threes but on whether or not they're quick enough and confident enough on the trigger to take them.
Miami has ridiculous recovery speed on the perimeter, and the Bulls can get caught hesitating on the open shot then never finding another good look before the shot clock winds down.
I don't believe ring night will distract the Heat. They're ready to go. They know what's coming when Chicago walks into the building. They know Derrick Rose has something to prove. They'll be ready. It's probably the perfect way to start the season if they want to break the 72 win record [not sure they do], because this game will get them physically ready.
On paper the Heat should win. On paper the Heat should always win. The game won't be played on paper though, it will be played on the hardwood, and the Bulls have played better on the hardwood against the Heat than on paper.
The results, whatever they are, will trigger an overreaction by fans and the media alike as the first game always takes on more importance when we rush to analyze something real after not having the opportunity to do so for so long.
Derick Rose has waited a year and a half for tonight. Bulls nation has waited a year and a half for tonight. Let's see what they've got.
Filed under: Game Threads