ATLANTA — Chicago fans are one step closer to realizing their dreams come true: the Derrick Rose led Bulls have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since Michael Jordan led them there in the 1997-98 season that ended where fans are hoping this one does, a championship.
The NBA world is also getting their dream match-up: the Bulls and Heat will square off with the winner earning a trip to the NBA Finals.
The Bulls got to this point with an absolute lashing of the Atlanta Hawks. Everyone who needed to be hot was, including Carlos Boozer who was the pleasant surprise of the night.
Boozer was among 5 Bulls players to go over double digits and was the only one to eclipse twenty; Boozer finished the night the top scorer with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Boozer’s most impressive stat is perhaps the fact he shot 10-16 from the field, putting to rest his offensive demons for at least one night.
The MVP Derrick Rose played exactly the way he did to earn himself the coveted trophy. He only scored 19 points, but when he scored it was spectacular. He earned his keep in Game 6 however with assists rather than points. One of Rose’s shining qualities is that he is not afraid to share the ball and he showed just how valuable that can be to Chicago in Game 6. Rose had 12 assists to add to his 19 points and he spread the ball from everyone like Carlos Boozer to Luol Deng.
Chicago played the type of basketball in Game 6 that wins championships. But the question still remains as to whether or not this Bulls team will show up in Chicago to start off a series against the Heat.
The answer may finally be that they are. The Bulls have thrived off of high pressure situations all this post season. Proof of this lies in the fact they won their clinching games of both of their series so far by large margins. This upcoming series with the Heat will not only be the highest pressurized situation the Bulls have faced all season, but the spotlight will be at it’s height given the history these two teams have.
The Bulls, however, have proved to be disappointing in these situations as well. The hype about the ferocity of the United Center was quickly deflated by the Indiana Pacers, which set off the start of a bizarre post season for Chicago. Although they didn’t lose that game, they did get embarassed by the Hawks in Chicago to kick off this most recent series.
The Bulls played 41 home games and lost just 5 times. They have played 6 home games and lost one. The calming numbers in this is of the Bulls first 6 home games of the regular season they lost once as well. In fact they lost once in their first 10 home games before losing again.
But despite the fact the Bulls haven’t blown out everyone they have faced at home, they still own a 5-1 home record in the playoffs which is still impressive. In five home games the defending NBA champion Lakers went 2-3. But as the Spurs proved, just because you’re good at home doesn’t mean you have already earned a title.
But just as good as the Bulls have been at home this season, so too have been the Heat. Miami is undefeated at home thus
far in the playoffs with three home wins against the Celtics. Something they couldn’t accomplish during the season.
In that same vain, another thing the Heat couldn’t accomplish during the season no matter home or away was to beat the Bulls. That series will most definitely be the most interesting of all the playoffs.