Mar 14, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) is defended by Chicago Bulls small forward Luol Deng (9) in the first quarter at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE

Bulls/Heat Preview & Playoff Outlook


May 18, 2011; Chicago, IL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (left) works against Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose (1) during the second quarter in game two of the eastern conference finals of the 2011 NBA playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

Beast in the East

This is part one of the showdown. Although they appear locked into the 2nd spot, they have a chance at the first seed, starting tonight at Chicago. Especially if Derrick Rose sits out again, they need to take full advantage by playing better basketball. If he plays, go right at him, challenge him. Test his groin, see how that ankle feels. The other starting guard will be in the lineup tonight, Rip Hamilton. The other night he flourished in the 3rd quarter against the Knicks, and Kyle Korver picked up where he left off and put on a show in the 4th on both sides of the ball.

The Bulls have the best record in the league but have lost 3 of their last 5 games. The Heat is right behind them, but again they’re struggling and split their last 10. Miami needs to hit the boards collectively and come back from Tuesday’s poor defensive display. MVP candidate LeBron James has been the one constant. Wade has either missed a game or missing a few more shots than usual. Perhaps Chalmers maintains his high level of playMaybe these teams are bored, but this showdown will help them refocus for the stretch run.

As for next week: same teams, same time, same channel, different location. These powerhouses get one last look at each other before the playoffs, April 19th in South Beach.

Playoffs

Right now they are slated to play either Philadelphia or New York. Those 2 are battling for the final 2 spots and positioning. Milwaukee is lurking and trying to steal that last spot Keep in mind; Miami is poised to make a run at the first seed because they play Charlotte, New Jersey, Toronto, and Washington twice. Not to mention the Bulls tonight and again next week.

Looking at the big picture, remember last year Chicago finished on top of the East and Miami got the 2nd seed. Home court advantage matters in a game 7 without question, but you have to win to get to that point. The Bulls won game 1 then Miami stole game 2 and the rest was history, they advanced in 5 games. Now granted, it’s a different season and the Bulls are better than they were a year ago, but so is the Heat. They’re clearly the favorite to win the East and to win it all. Expect them to look rejuvenated, starting tonight. The team will go as Bosh goes, they should get him involved early and often.

Tags: 1st Seed 2nd Seed April 2012 Chicago Bulls Featured Miami Heat National Basketball Association NBA Playoffs Popular Postseason Season