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Do LeBron James, Miami Heat Stand Chance Against Chicago Bulls?

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The griddle on which LeBron James and the Miami Heat scorched the Boston Celtics has not yet cooled, but's Jason Whitlock is already baiting the anti-Heat community into another crusade with a column headlined "Heat no match for Bulls."

Big W.H.I.T. got this guppy to bite. (Thanks to Russ Bengtson for the tip.) An analysis of the column follows.

Whitlock in italics; me, straight up.

That won't beat the Bulls.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Ch Bo won't be enough.

Go ahead, celebrate Miami's 4-1 elimination of the Boston Celtics, get caught up in the hype.

What we just saw from the Heat won't beat the Bulls.

Four sentences, four paragraphs. A rousing start. Bill Plaschke is already clapping. First, let's address this apparent new nickname for Chris Bosh. Now, call me crazy, but "Chris Bosh" is already pretty short. On first reference, being that Whitlock's column is not being published in/on a limited-character medium like Twitter or a stone tablet, I think "Chris Bosh" is of appropriate length. This could also just be a bad edit, as if an editor did a Find and Replace on "Chris" to change them all to "Ch." I fear this may get confusing when Whitlock compares James Jones to "China Ricci" from Casper.

Beyond that, this is lovely! The erudite columnist implores us to believe that the Heat's series victory won't carry over to the next series, one which is actually not even set yet because the supposed impenetrable opponent, Chicago, remains mired in a series with an opponent, Atlanta, that is by all measurable accounts vastly inferior to the one that Miami just defeated. But other than that, and the concerns about the paragraph thing and the weird Chris Bosh nickname, this is great!

James, Wade and Bo can't win four games against a real elite team. The Heat's best chance to reach the NBA Finals is to pray Atlanta somehow ousts Chicago. Short of that, I'll take the Bulls in six games in the Eastern Conference finals.

By most accounts, Boston was a "real elite team" before Miami beat it. The Celtics did, after all, finish just a couple games behind Chicago. They have two of the last three East banners and are one of the few teams to win a title in the last decade that doesn't wear purple and gold. But revisionist history, we'll allow it.

The leap of logic I can't abide is the suggestion that Chicago is so powerful that it will beat Miami in six in a prospective East finals matchup ... but only if the Bulls can survive the Atlanta Hawks. That's like saying that Newt Gingrich will beat Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election ... but only if Newt can beat Levi Johnston in the primary. Novak Djokovic will win the French Open ... but only if he can first beat first-round opponent, a three-year-old komodo dragon who, obviously, cannot hold a racket.

The Big 2.5 cannot beat a cohesive, healthy eight-man rotation led by Derrick Rose. No way.

A cohesive, healthy eight-man rotation led by Derrick Rose is struggling to beat the Atlanta Hawks and needed comebacks to beat the Indiana Pacers in three of four wins in the first round. I can see why you'd be so concerned for the Heat!

The Heat barely knocked off a Celtics team ...

If by "barely" you mean "4-1," then sure!

... led by a one-armed point guard.

Which is one more arm than Mike Bibby has, for all intents and purposes.

Miami needed overtime Monday night and a 10-point, late-game eruption from James on Wednesday night to hold off an injury-riddled and worn Celtics squad.

True. Also true: Miami needed to wear sneakers and not be comatose to "hold off" the opponent they "led throughout the series."

I don't blame you for being impressed. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were spectacular throughout the series and phenomenal in the clincher, scoring 33 and 34 points, respectively.

We've never seen anything like the pairing of James and Wade. It's better than Jordan and Pippen.

LeBron and Wade were phenomenal. Better than Jordan and Pippen? We'll see. Jordan and Pippen did win six championships, after all. Now if LeBron and Wade are better than Jordan and Pippen, and Jordan and Pippen won six titles, is Whitlock suggesting LeBron and Wade will win more than six titles? Is there a catch coming? I feel like there's a catch coming.

We've also never seen anything like James, Wade and Bo's supporting cast.

We've got a catch!

Mario Chalmers, Mike Bibby, Joel Anthony, Juwan Howard, James Jones, Eddie House, Mike Miller, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and coach Erik Spoelstra might be a nine seed in the NCAA tournament.

I'm under the impression that eight of those nine fellows would not be eligible for NCAA competition on account of being paid professionally to play basketball. The ninth, Spoelstra, played at the University of Portland, so he probably considers this analogy a compliment. So thanks!

But I'm just not sure this joke holds up, W.H.I.T. Why don't we try something more in your wheelhouse? Can't you compare the supporting cast to some simps from The Wire or something? It seems like you're more experienced in doing those analogies than any other analogies.

They remind me of the inept, skeleton crew of muscle Avon and Slim Charles sent at Marlo, Chris and Snoop in season three of "The Wire."

Ah, much better.

<snip> I've never once doubted James' or Wade's individual or collective brilliance. My problem with the Heat has always been the support, the bench.

Wednesday night, six Heat players not named LeBron, Dwyane or Ch took the court, and they contributed 4-of-21 shooting, 16 points, 10 rebounds and two assists. In Game 4, the non-Big 2.5 contributed 7-of-16 shooting, 15 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.

The Heat won those two games by a combined 19 points. In Game 5, Boston's bench outscored Miami's handily. Boston lost. It's almost as if Miami is good enough up top to win despite their bench. It's almost as if stars and not benches win championships.

That's not going to beat the Bulls. With a healthy Rajon Rondo, the Celtics would've eliminated the Heat in the semifinals. Rondo averaged 11 points, 4.4 rebounds, 11 assists and 2.3 steals during the regular season. He pushed the pace on both ends of the court. His twisted, bandaged left elbow rendered him useless the final two games. In Games 4 and 5 combined, he had four rebounds, eight assists and one steal.

Rondo injured his elbow in Game 3. Miami led the series 2-0 going into that game. With a healthy Rajon Rondo, the Celtics were down 0-2 to the Heat in the semifinals. Rondo was excellent in Game 2, pushing the pace on blah blah blah blah. The Celtics were down 0-2.

<snip> The popular narrative is the Bulls look terrible, particularly on offense, against an IQ-challenged Atlanta squad. I contend the Heat looked worse against a battered and helpless Boston team.

The reality realized by watching the games and looking at the box scores is the Bulls look terrible, particularly on offense. I contend that by winning their series handily against a far superior team than the one Chicago is playing, the Heat look pretty freaking good.

Derrick Rose is going to chew up Bibby and Chalmers. Spoelstra is going to end up putting Wade on Rose and sitting his point guards. And that's going to put a drain on Wade's offensive effectiveness and potentially lead to foul trouble.

During the regular season, Rose averaged 29 points on 44 percent shooting against Bibby and (more often) Chalmers (and also sometimes Carlos Arroyo). Spoelstra ended up using Wade some against Rose. Wade's offensive effectiveness against Chicago in the regular season? 29 points a game on 46 percent shooting.

<snip> If the game is close late - and these games will be - Rose, Luol Deng, Kyle Korver and Chicago's bigs will make the necessary plays at both ends. Ch Bo won't make a heroic tip-in over Joakim Noah at crunch time.

Miami dominated the grizzled, championship-wielding Boston veterans in crunch time, sure, but the younger, less experienced Bulls will be better suited to win in the clutch. I see the logic. And perhaps Ch Bo won't make a heroic tip-in over Jo No, but what about Ca Bo? Can Ca Bo do what he has failed to do in the playoffs to date and keep opponents like Ch Bo off the offensive glass?

Oh, and one more thing.

Remember when the New York Jets beat the New England Patriots to advance to the AFC Championship Game? Remember LaDainian Tomlinson crying and the Jets celebrating like they'd just won the Lombardi Trophy?

That's how the Heat looked after finishing Boston. They turned the Boston series into a personal NBA Finals. They spent too much emotional capital on getting past a broken team. You can go to that emotional well only so many times.

The Jets fell behind Pittsburgh 24-0 before finding their legs in the AFC Championship Game.

Remeber when <unrelated thing in completely different sports> happened? Remember when <player not on either of these teams, and actually not in this league> did that thing that people made fun of? Remember when <dumb player's team> lost to <a better team>? That's TOTALLY relevant to what happened here, because it matches my warped thesis and it's kindasortanotreallybutimastretchitanyway similar.

What an exhausting column, W.H.I.T. I feel like you owe us something for getting through it, some exclamation marks or something.

Chicago-Miami. Can't wait!!!

Neither can the Atlanta Hawks!!!