The top-seeded Miami Heat will square off with the 5th-seeded Chicago Bulls in the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs. The Heat advanced with a clean sweep over the Milwaukee Bucks, while the Bulls beat the Brooklyn Nets 4-3 after nearly blowing a 3-1 series lead.
The Heat did exactly what everyone thought it would do and sweep the Bucks. LeBron James was brilliant in the series, as if that wasn’t expected.
James was named the 2012-2013 NBA MVP garnering all but one vote. His play this season has been sensational and he now joins Bill Russell as the only two players to win 4 MVP awards in a 5-season span, capping quite the two-player list.
LeBron was in complete control in the opening round series against the Bucks. He averaged 24.5 points. 7.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists per contest and shot 62%. He is on a mission to win another NBA title.
Chicago is plagued with injuries and limping into the series. Kirk Hinrich will likely play for the Bulls on Monday in game one, after he missed games 5-7 with a calf injury. Luol Deng’s chances of playing are slim as he has been in the hospital with an unknown illness and Joakim Noah is playing through a foot injury. The biggest injury of all is that of Derrick Rose who hasn’t played at all this season. Whether or not he should play is an entirely different discussion.
Miami has a significant injury on the team with Dwyane Wade’s knee, having missed Miami’s game 4 win against the Bucks because of it. With the sweep, he had plenty of time to rest and rehab his knee. Even if Wade is at a minimum, the Heat will be just fine.
The regular season saw the two teams split two games apiece, with the Bulls snapping Miami’s historic 27-game winning streak earlier this season.
In order for Miami to win this series, they will have to simply play as the reigning, defending champions. If they can limit the efforts of the Chicago big men and Nate Robinson–who was a key factor in the Bulls’ series win over the Nets–they will be just fine. Currently shooting only 32.2 percent from the arc, Miami will also have to shoot better from the three-point line.
I don’t see this lasting very long. If the Heat do not sweep, the series will end in 5. Chicago is too injured to contend with Miami. The Heat will cruise into the Eastern Conference semifinals with ease.