Friday, April 20, 2007

I Against I

I wish I shared Matt's confidence, but, uh, I don't. I imagine this series will be a lot like the Bulls' year thus far. They will play some very good games, and even blowout the Heat once or twice; the Heat will probably blow the Bulls out once; and then there will be the close games, and I have no confidence that the Bulls can pull those out. I see the series going all seven games, and that's what worries me the most, a replay of what we just saw this week, with the Bulls failing to close the deal when it matters most. But let's hope I'm wrong.

In the meantime, here are my brief takes on the individual matchups.

Point Guard: Kirk v. J-Wil
Easily the Bulls' biggest advantage, and if they do pull out the series, it will be because Kirk stepped his game up another notch. Even working his ass off on the defensive end shadowing Wade, Kirk should be able to get whatever he wants on the offensive end, whenever he wants it.

Shooting Guard: Ben v. Eddie Jones
Technically, Jones plays the 3, but word on the street is that he'll be guarding Ben. The logic is that Ben struggles against bigger guards and that EJ did a nice job on him last time out, but I still give the advantage to Ben. It was actually a Miami-Chicago game in Ben's rookie year when I knew that he was going to be a star, when he absolutely torched the Heat in the fourth quarter. Not having an answer for him, Riles put EJ on him by the end of that game too. It didn't work and that was two years ago: EJ's not getting any younger. Yeah, he's been rejuvenated since re-joining Miami, but Ben should be too quick for him.

Small Forward: Deng v. D-Wade
Again, this matchup is only on the Bulls' offensive end, and it's a smart move by Riles. Deng isn't very physical on offense and it seems like the Bulls mostly run screens for Ben and Kirk. I'm sure he's going to wait and see how it plays out, but Skiles may need to adjust and make Deng more of a focal point on the offense by calling a lot of plays for him on isos, hard cuts, screens, whatever. Deng is certainly capable of putting up huge numbers and if EJ ends up doing a good job on Ben, then he's going to have to.

On the other end, we all know that Kirk does as good a job on Wade as anybody in the league. It's an open question as to whether that will be enough. Wade looked sick in the last five minutes against Indiana last weekend.

Power Forward: PJ Brown v. Udonis Haslem
A slight edge to the Heat here, just because Udonis is basically a younger version of PJ, a good rebounder and defender who can hit the open jump shot.

Center: Wallace v. Shaq
One way or another, we'll have the answer to a $60 million question.

Bench: Ty, Noce and Du v. Posey, Kapono and Zo
The linked Miami Herald story above has it as Posey, Zo and Walker, but after this season, I can't see Riles playing Toine much in this series, particularly since Posey can play the four against the Bulls without being overmatched physically. According to Ira Winderman a few weeks back, Zo was basically running on fumes by the end of the season, so it will be interesting to see what he has left. I wouldn't count him out.

Basically, I agree with my namesake: Ty Thomas is the X-factor in this series, and hopefully I'm just not talking about the number of minutes Skiles gives him. We all know how good he was in the final stretch run. If he can consistently bring that type of production every game in this series, then I may be wrong, and instead of having our hearts broken in Game Seven, we could be feeling elated in six games or under.


Blogger Big Sweet said...

Nice rundown, BG. Don't we have to give the slight edge to P.J., though, assuming of course that Haslem will inevitably hurl his protective mouthgear in the direction of Violet, Bavetta, or some other unsuspecting ref. Everything else looks about right. If Kirk can stay on the floor and Tyrus gets his minutes, I think we have a good chance. That is, of course, until D-Wade takes over.

12:45 AM  

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