Of all the questions surrounding the Chicago Bulls this season, only one truly matters- can they get past the Miami Heat this year? Because of what happened last season (4-1 Eastern Conference Finals loss despite the Bulls having home court advantage), what could happen this year (many NBA experts predict the same outcome this year) and how this script could occur repeatedly in the future, that’s what this season is all about.
Only breaking through that playoff “glass ceiling “matters. Miami will probably have their big three in place for awhile, and that could create a situation commonly referred to as “NBA Hell” for the Bulls and everyone else in the Eastern Conference.
“NBA Hell” and the “glass ceiling” are kind of the same thing.
It’s coincidental that the Bulls have so many former Utah Jazz players on the roster because the Jazz have been to NBA Hell twice. In the John Stockton-Karl Malone era, it was Michael Jordan and the Bulls who kept them from breaking through to win the title. During the Carlos Boozer-Deron Williams era, it was Kobe Bryant and the L.A. Lakers who were their repeated roadblock.
“Miami is the Eastern Conference champions and we certainly look at having to go through them to ultimately get to where we want to get,” Bulls GM Gar Forman said at training camp.
“And that’s not to single out Miami, there are a lot of good teams in the Eastern Conference and there certainly are some teams that have gotten better, but that’s one thing we look at when we look at some of the moves that we could possibly make,” he continued.
Look no further than the team Chicago defeated twice in their only preseason games this year.
The Bulls ran away with the Central Division title last season; they ostenisbly had it wrapped up by the Martin Luther King holiday. That won’t happen this year, and the Indiana Pacers will likely do a lot better than 37-45 this year.
The Pacers finished second to the Bulls last year, and fell 4-1 to the Bulls in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Indiana entered the off-season with a ton of cap space and made smart moves by not wasting any of their money and still keeping themselves in good financial standing for next off-season when the free agent class will be much better. Suddenly, Indiana has become a sexy sleeper team in the Eastern Conference that definitely is on the up-and-up.
No one else in the Central is a threat. Boston will take a small step down this year, the Knicks aren’t ready for prime time yet and Orlando needs to figure out what they’re going to do with franchise player Dwight Howard before they become a true threat.
Therefore, it’s again Miami that is of primary concern.
“I think any time you get in the playoffs, match-ups is a big part of it. And we obviously look at other teams and how we match up with other teams. it’s one of the factors we look at as we try to build our team but it’s not the only factor,” Forman said.
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