COMMENTARY | When the smoke clears in the 2013 NBA season game opener, shocking news will spread and this question will be left wafting the air:
Right from the tip-off, basketball fans will begin to search the latest scores of the Heat vs. Bulls game and conduct social-media searches for game highlights and odds. Lookie-loos will wonder whether or not Greg Oden dunked, if Michael Beasley behaved, if Dwyane Wade's knees held up, if Carlos Boozer had a big game, and if Joakim Noah suited up. You get the picture.
In the end, the defending champions will be left babbling and clueless as to what happened in front of a sellout crowd. Don't get me wrong, I am fond of the Heat like the next guy. However, here are three reasons why Rose gets the upper-hand on the Big Three:
Miami Heat's preseason wasn't pretty
Perhaps, here is the most despicable thing about Miami's early games: Of the three games the Heat lost, they were beaten by double-digits, the largest from the Brooklyn Nets (86-62).
And if that's not enough to convince you something is lacking in the Heat's repertoire, here's another: Miami lost its second of two meetings to the Nets by 21.
It's just my take, but the new-look Nets are not quite in the same conversation as Chicago.
Still, conventional wisdom compels die-hard Miami fans to slough off the anemic performance by saying "it's just preseason."
I don't think an argument can be made that suggests Heat players didn't want to win. They did. They all do. And that's what makes them champions.
LeBron James and the Heat are facing unnerving NBA history
Defending champions typically win the opener. In fact, according to NBA.com, only four teams have failed to win the first game in defending their titles since 1980. However, a frightening set of circumstances await the Heat.
Let's be perfectly clear here: LeBron James has a tall order to fill during the 2013-2014 NBA season, as far as "firsts" are concerned:
James can become:
- The first to win three straight MVPs since Larry Bird did so with the Boston Celtics (1984-1986).
- The first to win five total MVPs since the great Michal Jordan did so with the Chicago Bulls.
In short, with that kind of pressure on his shoulders, LeBron is going to need a perfect season and a lot of contribution from his supporting cast. The question is: Are the rest of the Bulls up to the task? The short answer is an unequivocal yes.
Not so fast. The challenge is whether or not they can remain healthy and face formidable rivals in the East. It's only a matter of time before they face the Nets again and Brooklyn is counting on dishing out the same results from preseason.
In the end, the Heat will have to overcome mental fatigue in order to three-peat. The emotion from the banner-drop and ring ceremony is enough to take a player off their game.
It presents a type of pressure that is hard to keep in check. Turning it off at tip-off when the confetti stops falling, the lights stop flashing and the music stops playing is a challenge that often works in the visiting team's favor.
Derrick Rose is back and the Bulls are new and improved
Expect to see an attacking Rose, who knows how to control the pace of the game and set other players up to make easy buckets.
The Heat's biggest nightmare is stopping Rose from getting into the paint and taking him off the dribble. Additionally, Erik Spoelstra has to find a way to have his guys react to diversions, because there are many other weapons other than D-Rose to run up a score fast.
Rose is so dangerous, that defenders, whether in a zone or man-to-man defense, are naturally compelled to cut off his path to the goal. That leaves Noah, Boozer, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and even Jimmy Butler open for easy buckets.
Sounds familiar? Miami does it with LeBron James, while the likes of Ray Allen and Shane Battier wait wide on one from long distance. And the strategy of having Chris Andersen camp out around the basket for an easy dip is classic. It's fair to say the Bulls and other rivals in the East have Miami's blueprint in mind.
Here's a bit of consolation: If the Miami Heat lose to the Chicago Bulls tonight, blame it on LeBron bringing back the powder-clap.
Bradley is a professional writer, journalist, sportswriter and avid follower of the NBA, NFL, NCAA, PGA and tennis. He keeps a watchful eye on Miami Heat and Miami Dolphins developments.
- Sports & Recreation
- Miami Heat
- Derrick Rose
- Chicago Bulls
- LeBron James