NBA Preview: Bulls only true threat out there to LeBron’s Heat
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter October 28, 2013 10:35PM
Updated: December 1, 2013 7:07AM
Outgoing NBA commissioner David Stern isn’t stupid.
Of course, he wanted the Bulls sitting on the visitors’ bench on opening night in Miami.
After all, there’s history in the making.
The Heat is trying to become the fourth NBA franchise to three-peat. Standing in the way is a Bulls franchise that did it twice in the ’90s.
One team looking to make history facing off against the team that has the best chance to deny it.
The Pacers, Nets and Knicks are all looking to make noise in the Eastern Conference, but a healthy Derrick Rose makes the Bulls the only true contender that can stand up to LeBron James and Co.
“It makes them a championship contender,’’ Pacers coach Frank Vogel said of the Bulls having Rose back. “Anytime you have a Tom Thibodeau-coached team that has warriors like Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and [Carlos] Boozer, and Jimmy Butler now has become one of their warriors, and you add an MVP-caliber player like Derrick Rose to that culture, they’re not just an Eastern Conference contender but a championship contender.’’
Apologies to the Western Conference, but while there are at least seven teams that have the talent to make it to the Finals, none has the firepower needed to slow down the Heat.
No, this is about the Bulls and Heat.
With history on the line.
Predicted order of finish:
2. Miami Heat
3. Indiana Pacers
4. Brooklyn Nets
5. New York Knicks
6. Atlanta Hawks
7. Cleveland Cavaliers
8. Detroit Pistons
Heat over Bulls in seven games.
ALL-EASTERN FIRST TEAM
G: Derrick Rose, Bulls
G: Paul George, Pacers
F: LeBron James, Heat
F: Carmelo Anthony, Knicks
C: Joakim Noah, Bulls
EASTERN CONFERENCE pickS
MVP: Derrick Rose, Bulls
Comeback player of the year: Derrick Rose, Bulls
Rookie of the year: Victor Oladipo, Magic
Coach of the year: Tom Thibodeau, Bulls
Coach on the hot seat: Mike Woodson, Knicks
Most underrated player: Thaddeus Young, 76ers
Most overrated player: Joe Johnson, Nets
Big-name trade candidate: Rajon Rondo, Celtics
Predicted order of finish:
1. Los Angeles Clippers
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
3. Houston Rockets
4. San Antonio Spurs
5. Golden State Warriors
6. Memphis Grizzlies
7. Denver Nuggets
8. New Orleans Pelicans
Thunder over Clippers in five games.
Heat over Thunder in six games.
ALL-WESTERN FIRST TEAM
G: Chris Paul, Clippers
G: James Harden, Rockets
F: Kevin Durant, Thunder
F: Kevin Love, Timberwolves
C: Marc Gasol, Grizzlies
MVP>>> Kevin Durant, Thunder
Comeback player of the year: Dwight Howard, Rockets
Rookie of the year: Ben McLemore, Kings
Coach of the year: Doc Rivers, Clippers
Coach on the hot seat: Mike D’Antoni, Lakers
Most underrated player: Tiago Splitter, Spurs
Most overrated player: Blake Griffin, Clippers
Big-name trade candidate: Pau Gasol, Lakers