Ever since the NBA schedule was released in early August, everyone who has any idea about the NBA has been waiting for the first matchup of the year between the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat. A rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals and a potential Eastern Conference finals preview, this game has prime time written all over it.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that it’s also the official return of Derrick Rose and the Heat are receiving their NBA Finals Championship rings. Here’s a quick preview of the contest:
The Bulls will return three of their five starters (Deng, Noah, Boozer) and add the to it the improved explosiveness of Derrick Rose and the suffocating defense of Jimmy Butler who matured greatly in a sixth man role last season. While the Bulls did lose Italian sharp-shooter Marco Belinelli, they quickly filled his spot with veteran Mike Dunleavy to work around the perimeter, not to mention Rose’s improved range. Marquis Teague, who looked very good in summer league and the preseason, will see an increase in minutes. Taj Gibson (my prediction for 6th man of the year) added 15 pounds of muscle, and looks to have a major contribution this year, especially if Joakim Noah’s groin irritates him.
On the Miami front things will look pretty much the same as they have ever since the “Big Three” joined forces. A returning starting five of James, Wade, Bosh, Haslem, and Chalmers will have all of their key backups returning this season along with three key additions. Michael Beasley, former number two overall pick for the Heat (behind Rose), returns to South Beach after a couple very average seasons in Minnesota and Phoenix. Along with Beasley are newcomers Roger Mason Jr. and Greg Oden. Mason Jr. hasn’t really been relevant since having a solid year with San Antonio in ’09. As for Oden? He hasn’t been relevant since 2009 either after having multiple knee issues.
Overall, this matchup will be what it always is: The Chicago Bulls vs Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. I do expect to see Norris Cole have a breakout season, but not so much in this game. My prediction: Bulls win 98-90.
Bulls: Mike Dunleavy, Derrick Rose (technically)
Heat: Michael Beasley, Greg Oden, Roger Mason Jr.
Bulls: Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli, Assistant Coach Ron Adams