Miami Heat forwards Udonis Haslem (40) and LeBron James and Chicago Bulls… (Rhona Wise / European Pressphoto…)
First, Chicago snapped Miami's 27-game winning streak during the regular season. Now the short-handed Bulls have taken a 1-0 series lead over the heavily favored Heat in the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals.
Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss whether Chicago can really shock the world by winning three more games and sending the defending champs to an early playoff exit. Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment of your own.
Don’t start about how rusty the Miami Heat was in Game 1 of its playoff series against the Chicago Bulls.
Chicago split its four regular-season games against Miami, and the Bulls’ superiority on the interior was on display again during their 93-86 victory Monday night.
Joakim Noah grabbed five offensive rebounds, and the Bulls’ tenacity on the boards — or is it the Heat’s weakness on the boards? — translated into 17 second-chance points for Chicago.
Bulls wing Jimmy Butler is emerging as one of the stars of these playoffs. Butler gives Chicago a versatile defender who can at least slow LeBron James or Dwyane Wade. And the Bulls will be even better defensively once Luol Deng returns from his illness.
Are there some warning signs for the Bulls? Yes. They’re depending too much on Nate Robinson, and Butler has played all 48 minutes in three consecutive games.
But the Heat is in trouble.
Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun Sentinel
Can the Bulls win the series against the Heat? Sure. They've shown they're capable of the unexpected.
Can the Heat lose four games over two weeks? That is the greater question, and that comes down more to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh than any pesky, undermanned game plan put together by Tom Thibodeau.
The Heat entered the series well aware it wasn't in Milwaukee anymore. The Bulls have played them tough, perhaps toughest in the league, in the Big Three era, having already won this season at AmericanAirlines Arena.
But if this does prove to be a series of attrition, the Heat's depth, and LeBron, should be able to wear them down.
What Game 1 was was a wakeup call, something the Heat largely has not experienced since February.
Since then it came easy, perhaps a bit too easy.
So yes, the Bulls might win again in this series. But three more? That still comes off as a stretch.
[Updated at 1:30 p.m.:]
Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times
Let's not get too excited because the Bulls won one game. Oklahoma City also won the opener in its series against the Heat last season, and how did that work out for the Thunder?
Miami will quickly regain a sense of urgency after a long layoff and get major contributions from other players besides LeBron James. Chicago will make it an interesting series, no doubt, between the scrappiness of Joakim Noah and the heroics of mighty mite Nate Robinson, not to mention the brilliant coaching of Tom Thibodeau.
But the Bulls ultimately will be run out of the building in the tight moments as the series evolves and James' brilliance and Miami's depth will be too much to overcome. The Heat will win in six games.]
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