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D-Rose matters, but depth real key in Bulls/Heat showdown

Apr 19, 2012, 2:52 PM EDT

Miami Heat's James and Wade look on during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls in Chicago Reuters

Everyone will want to watch the Bulls and the Heat and discuss how this is a preview of the Eastern Conference finals. It’s not.

Oh, these two teams will be there, you can bet on that. But after two rounds of the playoffs teams change and evolve — the Bulls and Heat that take the floor Thursday will be different than the ones that could face off about a month from now as the last two standing in the East.

Especially if Derrick Rose and Luol Deng don’t play Thursday. They are both game-time decisions as of this writing. Of course, the Bulls beat the Heat last Thursday because of their depth and defense, the two things that might matter more this Thursday than D-Rose.

Depth was the key Thursday when they clashed — Chicago’s bench outscored Miami’s 47-7. Shane Battier was a -34, Ronny Turiaf -17. One game +/- numbers can be misleading, but the Bulls depth was what won that game — Rose was rusty so Tom Thibodeau benched him for the overtime and the rest of the Bulls racked up the win. It didn’t matter what five were on the court, the Bulls moved the ball well, took 24 percent of their shots as spot-up jumpers and knocked the looks down. Kyle Korver was on fire, coming off baseline screens and moving to open spaces when his man had to help, he got and knocked down open looks all game. That is a formula Chicago can simply plug Rose into.

This game is not meaningless — it does matter for seedings. If the Bulls win, they lock up the top seed in the East. If the Heat win, they keep alive a chance of catching the Bulls for the top seed in the East. With a Heat win Chicago’s magic number would be three. Meaning basically the Heat would have to win out, the Bulls would have to lose their upcoming game against the Pacers and at least one more … all of which is to say it’s not likely.

Of course, the other question is do you want to be the top seed in the East? If you are you get a Sixers team in the first round that is easier than the seven seed Knicks (that’s the most likely matchups). However, the top seed also is on the Celtics side of the bracket for the second round. The Heat have lost a couple to Boston, although if anyone thinks Indiana is a pushover they haven’t been paying attention.

Whatever seed they want, the Heat have talked about trying to gain momentum heading into the playoffs, about executing better in the half court. Those are things they can come out of this game feeling a little better about. No statements are going to be made, but confidence can be found and built upon. And when they do meet, that feeling could matter a lot.

  1. thestudiokida - Apr 19, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    As it stands I’d rather have the #2 seed. Bulls are likely to face the 76ers and Celtics. Heat would face the Knicks and Pacers. I know Carmelo is hot right now but the Knicks will probably be an easy out like they were last year. They have a lot less chemistry than the Heat.

    Celtics are the real killers right now. I’d avoid them at all costs. Maybe Chicago will rest Rose/Deng tonight in a subtle effort to avoid the Celtics.

  2. hwatt - Apr 19, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    Yeah, I just want the Celtics to take the Heat out as a dark horse in the playoffs. Whatever the Bulls can do to make that happen…

  3. florida727 - Apr 19, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    I don’t think Kurt was the writer, but I’m laughing because last week one of the NBA bloggers wrote that the game, won by the Bulls, “didn’t matter as it relates to seedings for the playoffs”. Now of course, it matters plenty. What I’d like to know is, who owns the tie-breaker if Miami wins tonight?

    • chicitybulls - Apr 19, 2012 at 4:42 PM

      The Bulls own the tie breaker. Go read the game preview over at nba.com. It tells it there. Do NOT rely on Kurt for your info. Well, maybe you should. You’re obviously a heat fan just like he is.

    • mikeewright7 - Apr 19, 2012 at 4:53 PM

      Right! i was just thinking that as im writing this, i swear i recalled Kurt saying that Win by Chicago didnt matter, but now this one does?

  4. florida727 - Apr 19, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    “Meaning basically the Heat would have to win out, the Bulls would have to lose their upcoming game against the Pacers and at least one more … all of which is to say it’s not likely.”

    Why is this “unlikely”? The Bulls still have to play the Mavs. The only tough game for the Heat is v. Boston, but it is in Boston. Ain’t over yet…

  5. chitownmatt - Apr 19, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    History of the NBA playoffs shows that the team with the more difficult second round match-up usually goes on to win the third round and the team with the more difficult Conference final match-up usually wins the Championship.

    Championship teams are usually forged by the win-or-go-home scenario.

    • borderline1988 - Apr 19, 2012 at 5:43 PM

      I agree in the sense that the easier earlier matchups mean very little (although I don’t know if the opposite correlation works, i.e. that earlier tougher matchups equals more chance of winning later.).

      Prime example is the Boston Celtics in 2008 – it’s arguable that their easiest series win was the Finals against the Lakers.

      Honestly, how many people were doubting them after the Hawks took them to 7 games? And then Cleveland took them to 7 as well? Yet, they were undoubtedly the class of the NBA that year and ultimately won the championship.

      Being able to play through adversity is the most important ability wtih regards to championships, not who has the easiest road there.

  6. passerby23 - Apr 19, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    I would want to secure the #1 seed. The Knicks are a legit threat if they play well. At the very least, they are going to push whoever they play and be a problem. Not sure I would want a grind-it-out 6 or 7 game series in the first round with the Knicks. Not only that, but the Sixers are a perfect matchup for the Bulls. The Sixers have trouble scoring and don’t have the bigs to compete with Chicago on the glass. I predict a relatively comfortable sweep for the Bulls. If you have the chance to get a #1 seed, you take it.

    You can’t play for matchups beyond the first round, in my opinion. Injuries happen. Homecourt matters. I wouldn’t sleep on the Pacers either.

  7. dirtybird2020 - Apr 19, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    If im chicago ill take the high road for easier teams, 76ers are on a downward spiral and are written off, and we been beating celtics without starters, not to mention last year we womped on them, and before that had a playoff war with way less talent, anyone who says knicks are gonna be easy arent watching lately! And id rather face a boston team than a stacked and fiesty indiana anyday of the week, 2nd place is the harder road, any true bulls fan knows that, florida lives in lala land, and your roster isnt playing with chemistry other wise you wouldve known who your starters are 20 games back, heat fans are jokes!

  8. dirtybird2020 - Apr 19, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    47-7 what a joke! Laughing stock, and thats what miami fans take pride in!?!?!? Miami fan are a bunch of queers who jumped on a wagon to no ring land!

  9. dirtybird2020 - Apr 19, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    47-7 enough said!

  10. philtration - Apr 19, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    I want the Bulls to take home court through out the playoffs and I don’t care who they play.
    If you have to root for the # 2 seed to avoid playing the Celtics or any other team then you don’t belong in the first place.

    You play who you play and you don’t run away from the 4th or 5th seeded team.

  11. iowahbr - Apr 19, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    The Bulls would have to bring Harry Houdini back from the dead and sign him to a ten day contract to find someone better than Boozer at disappearing during big games. Boozer pulled a beautiful Houdini tonite against The Heat. So much money, so little result. Hopefully Rose will be healthy in time for the August preseason start.

  12. dirtybird2020 - Apr 19, 2012 at 11:36 PM

    He averages just about what bosh gets, and is a better rebounder than that bum for 30 stacks less, lets talk about not playing up to their contracts! Retarded heat fans!

  13. gmsingh - Apr 20, 2012 at 6:49 AM

    Boozer has one problem: lazy defense. Thibs, of course, subs Taj Gibson for Boozer over and over and over again to accomodate for this, so the Bulls bench is good for more then just scoring.

  14. mikeewright7 - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    DOnt crown HEat and Bulls ECF yet, Im sure Boston and Pacers will upset someone!

  15. blakspartan - Apr 20, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    I agree do not sleep on boston

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