#1 MIAMI HEAT VS. #5 CHICAGO BULLS
The Miami Heat are at it once again – preparing another deep run to the playoffs and another NBA title. They’ll need to beat back opposition from the Chicago Bulls as the team from the Windy City looks poised to give Lebron, Wade and Bosh all they can handle in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
Miami and Chicago had completely different first round experiences, with the Heat sweeping out Milwaukee and the Bulls going the distance against the Nets. Derrick Rose may come back in this series to reinvigorate a Bulls team currently led by Joaquim Noah. There’s no doubt this isn’t going to be a roll-over series for the favored Miami Heat.
2012-13 CHICAGO BULLS SEASON PREVIEW
The Chicago Bulls were enjoying one of their best seasons in recent memory until a freak injury caused it all to come crashing down. The Bulls finished the year with a tremendous 50-16 record, but that was overshadowed by the loss of point guard Derrick Rose, who was lost late in the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). As a result, the Bulls would lose in the opening round of the playoffs to the Philadelphia 76ers, becoming only the fifth number one seed in NBA history to be knocked out by a number eight seed. With the season finally behind them, the Bulls look to finish what they started in the coming season and hope to have Derrick Rose back by the time the team is ready to make a big playoff push.
As a result of their doomed season, the front office decided to shake up its bench in a big way, releasing players like Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, John Lucas and Omer Asik and restock the roster with veteran talent. The first big change comes in Marco Belinelli, who should prove to be an improvement over Korver at shooting guard. The team also picked up Nazr Mohammed for depth at center, Vladimir Radmanovic to bolster the forward position and Nate Robinson and Kurt Hinrich to provide quality depth at the point guard position. In the draft, the Bulls made a wise move to pick up guard Marquis Teague from Kentucky, which should solidify the position until Rose is able to make his return.
Even without Derrick Rose for the beginning of the 2012-13 season, the Bulls still have a very strong lineup that can contend with anyone in the Eastern Conference. Hinrich, Robinson and Teague should provide a solid rotation at point guard, while Richard Hamilton and Belinelli will form a strong tandem at shooting guard. The Bulls really missed the presence of Joakim Noah at center during the playoffs, so his return should help both on offense and defense. At forward, Carlos Boozer is a cornerstone of the offense, and he pairs very well with longtime veteran Luol Deng at small forward. Ultimately, if the new depth that the team signed in the offseason can gel together, the squad could feasibly be stronger than they were a year ago.
While the 2011-12 season is a loss to many Bulls' fans, the coming year is still filled with plenty of promise and an improved roster that is more than capable of contending for an NBA title.
CHICAGO BULLS FRANCHISE FACTS:
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Stadium: United Center
Conference: Eastern Conference
Division: Central Division
Rivals: New York Knicks
Mascot: Benny the Bull
Dancers: Chicago Luvabulls
Notable Players: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Derrick Rose
Chicago Bulls Championship Titles: 6
Chicago Bulls Conference Titles: 6
Chicago Bulls Playoff tickets
Chicago Bulls Season Preview History
CHICAGO BULLS EXPERIENCE:
Based in Chicago, Illinois, the Bulls are one of the most prominent names in the NBA, boasting legendary players like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant and Dennis Rodman within the same decade. Individually, these players have made lasting contributions to the league. During the reign of this eight-year dynasty, the team secured six championships under the leadership of coach Phil Jackson.
Although the Bulls were in the spotlight during the 1990s, the team has actually has a rich history since its founding in 1966. In fact, during the first season, the team immediately posted the best record by a recently established expansion team. During the 1970s, the Bulls were known best for their top defensive strategies thanks to players like Jerry Sloan, Bob Love and Clifford Ray.
In 1979, the team had the opportunity to draft one of the most promising players in the league, Magic Johnson, who eventually joined the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the Bulls will soon have the chance to cultivate the most popular player basketball has ever known. The team's fortunes changed forever after drafting Michael Jordan in 1984. After snatching Jordan from the University of North Carolina, he instantly began breaking records, putting the Bulls in the playoffs during the 1984-85 season.
It was during the late 80s that the Bulls developed a tight rivalry with the Celtics and the Pistons. Although the team lost the Eastern Conference Championship in 1987-88 season, Jordan was named as the NBA's Most Valuable Player - an honor that he will receive five times throughout his entire career. After beating Wilt Chamberlain's highest scoring record in the 1992-93 season, Michael Jordan decided to retire. However, he made a historic comeback in the 1994-95 season after the passing of his father.
Although the team has never truly bounced back from Jordan's final retirement in the late 90s, players like Jalen Rose and Tyson Chandler managed to carry the Bulls into the new millennium. After going through several years of poor results, the team has made somewhat of a comeback in the 2010-11 season, managing to reach the Eastern Conference Championship for the first time since 1998. Even though it lost that series to the Miami Heat, the team has proven that it can endure the end of the Jordan Dynasty.