2011 NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Finals Preview

By Dennis Berry

The Eastern Conference has come down to the top two teams.

The Chicago Bulls went 62-20 and finished with the best record in the NBA. They also feature the MVP of the league in Derrick Rose. They were not the team that most figured to be in the conference finals though. The Bulls got here by defeating the Indiana Pacers in the first round 4-1. Then they eliminated the Atlanta Hawks 4-2 in the East semi finals.

The Miami Heat finished with the third best record in the NBA at 58-24. They of course feature the Superstar duo of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. They of course were expected to be here after Miami signed James and Chris Bosh in the offseason. Miami earned its trip by defeating the Philadelphia 76ers in the opening round 4-1. In the East semi finals the knocked out defending Eastern Conference champions Boston Celtics 4-1.

The series may feature some of the best offensive players in the game, but it will come down to defense. During the regular season these teams were two of the best defensive teams in the NBA. During the regular season Chicago only gave up 91.3 points a game, good for second in the league. Miami was sixth in the league allowing 94.6 points a game.

Regular season defense stats

Teams Points Allowed Opp. Field Goal Opp. 3 Point
Chicago 91.3 43% 33%
Miami 94.6 43% 35%

Each team has increased their defense intensity during the playoffs. In the 10 playoff games Miami has played, it is only giving up 88.8 points a game. The Bulls are only allowing 87.7 points in 11 playoff games. Both teams are still allowing teams to shoot about the same against them from the floor, but the same cannot be said from the three point line. While the Bulls three point defense is better, the Heat are letting teams shoot 43% from the three point.

Postseason defense stats

Teams Points Allowed Opp. Field Goal Opp. 3 Point
Chicago 87.7 43% 32%
Miami 88.8 43% 43%

The question that Miami faces is who will guard Derrick Rose? He has shown why he was chosen as the MVP. So far Rose is averaging 28.8 points a game in these playoffs. To go along with his points, he is averaging 8.9 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.5 steals a game. Rose also had success against the Bulls in the regular season.

Rose versus Chicago regular season

Player Points per Game Assists Rebounds Turnovers Field Goal % Three Point %
Derrick Rose 29 6.3 3.3 2.1 45% 21%

Rose is not a strong outside shooter, as you can see from the stats. He shot only 33% from three during the regular season. In the post season, that has dropped to only 25%. Rose loves to beat you by attacking the basket. You have to keep him out of the lane to contain him. Miami should vary who guards Rose throughout the series. You can throw Mike Bibby at him, but Bibby will keep up with Rose at the beginning and will probably end defending shooting guard Keith Bogans most of the time. Mario Chalmers will get his chance as well, giving us a point guard rematch of the 2008 NCAA title game. When it gets down to crunch time, you can expect Wade or James to end up on Rose.

On the flip side, Chicago has to find a way to stop James and Wade. Against the Bulls in the regular season Wade averaged 29 points and James 27.5 points. In these playoffs the Heat duo has been unstoppable at times. In the close out game against Boston, Wade scored 34 and James added 33. In fact, James scored the last 10 points of the game for Miami to eliminate the Celtics.

Wade and James in Playoffs

Player Points per Game Assists Rebounds Turnovers Field Goal % Three Point %
Dwyane Wade 26.2 5 7.6 2.9 48% 25%
LeBron James 26.1 4.9 9.4 2.4 47% 36%

Another area to watch is who will control the paint. Neither team features a dominate big man in the post. The Bulls feature Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. It has taken time for Boozer to get used to playing in Chicago and sharing the paint with Noah. Bulls fans have some concern that Boozer may be a bust, but then he scored 23 points and had 10 rebounds in the close out game against Atlanta.

For Miami, Chris Bosh was supposed to add scoring and rebounding. At times it seems as if he disappears for the Heat. In these playoffs he has been more of a factor. He is averaging 16 points and 9 rebounds a game so far. The Heat still need help in the post though. They hope the return of Udonis Halsem will help, but he is still far from basketball shape. That leaves Joel Anthony and Zydrunas Ilgauskas as Miami's other options in the post.

Which ever team can find a way to get the most out of that area will have a big advantage in the series.

Dwyane Wade
Miami's Dwyane Wade in Atlanta Hawks 98-90 loss to the Miami Heat at Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA.

One area that the Bulls should have an advantage is the bench. Chicago has a 10 player rotation set in these playoffs. 10 players have played in every game in these playoffs. The second unit of the Bulls (C.J. Watson, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, Taj Gibson, and Omer Asik) gives them an athletic unit that keeps up the defensive pressure that the first unit brings.

The Heat on the other hand get very little help from the bench. Even though they play eight to nine guys in the playoffs, they do not contribute like the Bulls bench. Miami though is built differently with the majority of their offense coming from Bosh, James, and Wade.These teams faced each other three times in the regular season with Miami sweeping the series 3-0. This is Miami's first trip to the Eastern Conference Finals since 2006. This is the first Eastern Conference Finals since Michael Jordan played for the Bulls in 1998.

This should be a great match up that can easily go the full seven games. Will Rose continue his MVP like play and carry the Bulls to the Finals? Will the "Big Three" be able to make good on all the preseason hype as title favorites?

Check out our 2011 NBA Western Conference Playoff Finals Preview

What do you think?

Leave a comment about this article in the box below and share it with your Facebook friends.

Like The Best Basketball Blog

+1 The Best Basketball Blog

Hot Stores!

Ticket City
Hot Tickets!

World's Greatest Sports Trivia Book

Site Meter

Like this Page

Visit Our Social Media Pages
Become a Fan of TheBestBasketballBlog on Facebook Follow TheBestBasketballBlog on Twitter Find TheBestBasketballBlog on Google+ Follow TheBestBasketballBlog on YouTube