The Eastern Conference finals will feature a showdown between league MVP… (Charles Trainor Jr. / Miami…)
NO. 1 CHICAGO VS. NO. 2 MIAMI
Season series: Chicago, 3-0.
Key stat: At 28.8 points and 8.2 assists, Derrick Rose scores or assists on 45 of the 95 points his team is averaging in the playoffs, but his 45% shooting during the season is down to 42%.
Outlook: If these teams haven't clashed much to date, this marks the launch of the blood feud that should dominate the East for years.
Aside from climate differences and the fact one favors red and the other black, they're like the same team.
Both are built on defense, using the same lane-packing scheme everyone (including the Celtics and Lakers) originally stole from San Antonio, avoiding double teams and rotation to limit penetration and open three-pointers.
Mark Heisler: More of the same for Lakers and Celtics?
Both have struggling, incomplete supporting casts they expect to upgrade.
In the obvious, crucial difference, the Heat over-depends on two superstars and the Bulls on one.
Even facing teams that weren't equipped to take much away from Rose, the Bulls had to claw their way here.
The Heat won't let one player beat it and has the perimeter defenders to keep Rose out of the lane more often than the Pacers or Heat did.
The Heat's problem is offense.
First, it doesn't run much, rarely attacking from inside the defense unless LeBron James or Dwyane Wade dribbles his way in, taking shots so hard, it looks as if they're evening up the odds for all their star power.
Second, Miami's role players all but collapsed against Boston.
After Games 1-2, with Mike Miller a shadow of himself, the shooters who are supposed to knock down the open three-pointers James and Wade get them made 21%.
Prediction: If neither should be this beatable again soon, the Bulls are more beatable now.
Heat in five or six.