Ebullient in their Game 7 win, beaten and battered but finally victorious, the Chicago Bulls on Saturday celebrated as a stunned Brooklyn Nets team headed for the tunnel, the showers and the long and disappointing offseason.
But the Bulls, while worthy of praise for the poise and toughness they took to gut out a 99-93 Game 7 win without Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich, are also a perfect metaphor for the state of the NBA playoffs in general as we kick off the second round Sunday: full of teams good enough to advance, but possessing few if any real challengers for the Miami Heat.
Indeed, as the postseason was reshaped by storylines about the Oklahoma City Thunder losing Russell Westbrook and two of the top four seeds falling in the West and the Knicks looking surprisingly vulnerable against the Celtics — as the hardships and mediocrity of everyone else crystallized — the Heat waited.
They waited to play. They waited for Dwyane Wade to heal. They waited for Sunday afternoon’s inevitable announcement that LeBron James and his insane level of play had earned him his fourth Most Valuable Player Award. They waited to see if any real challenger would emerge on either side of the conference divide.
Few did. Instead, several faded away.
In the Eastern Conference, Chicago remained without Rose and its remaining players seemed to fall, one by one. The Bulls will limp into their Monday opener against Miami banged up and formidable only in the sense that they hate the Heat and will burn with the desire to beat them. The Bulls are tough, and they have heart, and in dispatching an underwhelming but more talented Nets team, the Bulls reasserted themselves as the NBA’s most capable team when it comes to willpower and tenaciousness. That can get you past Deron Williams and the Nets. It’s highly unlikely to be enough against LeBron and the Heat.
Kinda agree. The East is weak hell. The window is open for them. They really have no one to challenge them.
Edited by Gotrings?, May 05, 2013 - 06:33 PM.