Derrick Rose, Homecourt Advantage Will Carry Bulls Past Heat

The NBA Eastern Conference Finals series between the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat is almost impossible to predict. Nothing we witnessed between these two teams in the regular season is instructive. The only game in which all the key players were healthy was decided by a rebound on a missed free throw. We have no choice but to throw the regular season out the window.

In theory, Chicago has all the ingredients to stop a team like Miami. Derrick Rose will have a tremendous advantage against all the primary defenders Miami can throw at him, and is a much more difficult puzzle for Miami to solve than Rajon Rondo. Chicago also has the elite pick and roll defense necessary to prevent LeBron James and Dwyane Wade from living at the free-throw line. The Bulls' depth, while not as big an advantage as in the regular season, is still enough of an advantage to dominate the second quarter and prevent Miami from keying in on a particular lineup or tendency. 

The question, though, is whether Wade and James are good enough to make all of that not matter. They're certainly capable of winning this series by themselves, just like they did against Boston. They also seemed to have solved their crunch-time issue and have been able to split the load perfectly well. It's fully possible that the Bulls' strategy of using their defense to keep it close and winning it at the end won't work because Wade and James are too good.

But this is a much taller order for those two than Boston. The Heat don't have home-court advantage, and they've never had to face real adversity in a seven-game series. How will they respond to the madhouse that will result when they play in Chicago? Beating Boston may have been a major turning point in Miami's mental toughness, but Boston wasn't the same Boston team that beat the Heat up in November. Chicago is much closer to that team, and they have home-court advantage.

Ultimately, I think home court will win out. So, reluctantly, I'm going to pick Chicago to win in 7. 

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