Quick Pick: Eastern Conference Finals

(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (2) Miami Heat
One thing is sure: It WILL be a battle.
(image by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Seldom will you find a #1 seed that employs the league MVP as an underdog in a seven-game playoff series, but that is exactly the case here. That’s because in the 2011 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals, 3 heads are better than 1.

Any way you look at it, that’s what this series is going to be about. Can Derrick Rose, the league MVP and all-around regular season hero, slay the 3-headed monster composed of the up-and-down Chris Bosh, the “Flash” Dwyane Wade, and the self-proclaimed “King” LeBron James?
Can the MVP slay the
3-headed beast?
(image by Gary Dineen/Getty Images)

It’s a perfect example of protagonist-antagonist, good guy-bad guy, hero-villain – the classic physical conflict that conjures images of Perseus slaying Medusa or Theseus defeating the Minotaur.

And make no mistake about who’s who – Miami’s on the shadowy end here. At least in my eyes.

It goes without saying that this will be an epic match-up. Perhaps the last real epic match-up in these playoffs since the Lakers are out and no matter who Chicago/Miami goes up against in the Finals, this will be as titanic as things can get in the NBA.

The previous epic series Miami played was against an erstwhile insurmountable foe in the Boston Celtics, which they turned into a 5-game triumph. It validated the talent of Erik Spoelstra’s squad, and solidified their claim as a championship contender. In reality, LeBron James might actually get the first of the six (or seven was it?) titles he so proudly pronounced late last year.

But I’d be sick to my stomach if that happened. I’d rather Rose show the world that one man can inspire a team, and his HOMETOWN, so much that images of the previous championship dynasty and the greatest hoopster ever are immediately put to fore.

I want the Bulls to gore Miami, and I believe they will.

But they won’t go through unscathed.

It’ll go the distance. Seven games. Anything less would be travesty. Anything less would be an injustice to both teams’ fans. Anything less would make David Stern cringe at the wasted possibilities.

And why will Chicago win against a Miami team that seems to be peaking at just the right time? I’ll put my faith in three independent variables not named Derrick Rose or Joakim Noah.

Rose and Noah will be the constants. They’ll be consistent. They’ll get theirs. But it doesn’t take rocket science to know they won’t be enough against the Heat. Three things need to happen for Tom Thibodeau to outlast Spo.

Luol Deng can't afford to be good,
he must be GREAT.
(image by Issac Baldizon/Getty Images)
1) Scorers 2, 3, and 4: This directly translates to Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, and Kyle Korver. There’s no workaround here. Deng and Korver have to rain those Js and Booze has to be a beast down low, or at least balance out Bosh’s stats. He doesn’t have to be great, as long as Bosh isn’t playing great too.

2) Ronnie Brewer: He will be the main difference-maker on the court. How he defends whomever he’s tasked to defend, be it Wade or James or Miller or James Jones, will have a heavy impact on the complexion of every game in the series. He has a chance to prove he can be the Ron Harper/Randy Brown to Rose’s Jordan.

3) Home Court: Chicago won all three meetings against Miami in the regular season. They’ll lose three in this series alone. Like I said, it will go the distance. But that’s where being #1 will come in real handy. The Illinois crowd will be boisterous. They’ll boo James. He’ll still have a great game. But when it goes down the wire, and it will, the home court edge will rear its head in favor of Chicago.

And then Miami will have to exit. And James will have to kneel again, but this time it won’t be in victory.

Bulls. In. Seven.

Can LeBron James get to the Finals again?
(image by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Joakim Noah is this team's Dennis Rodman
(image byMike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Can Dwyane Wade continue his great postseason run?
(image by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

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