Hall of Fame forward Scottie Pippen offered the Bulls some words of encouragement in a letter they received from him on Tuesday. "You're still the best team in the NBA until an opponent proves otherwise. So go out there and play like it," he wrote. I'm glad Scottie is staying optimistic, as I'd love to see the Bulls knock off the Heat, but he's simply naive. Sure, the Bulls might have one of the more well-rounded, balanced teams in the playoffs, but they don't have the dynamic player they need to propel them to a championship. Without Derrick Rose, the Bulls are loaded with excellent role players. A team built like that may get you to an 18-9 record (as the Bulls had without Rose), but it won't fly in the playoffs.
The best chance the Bulls have of making a legitimate playoff run is if Boozer can return to his days of averaging 20 and 10, but he's barely come close to reaching those numbers since he's been in Chicago. I just can't see a team winning a championship when they have no player who can completely take over a game, who can be trusted to create and score for himself, or who requires excessive defensive attention. Basketball is a team sport, but having someone who can occasionally turn it into a one man show is essential to winning a championship.
Past 7 NBA Champions:
Mavs - Dirk Nowitzki
Lakers (who repeated) - Kobe Bryant
Spurs - Closest thing to a complete team, but 30 year old Tim Duncan averaged 20 points on 54.6% shooting that season. Big Fundamental could post and toast his way to a clutch bucket.
Heat - Dwyane Wade
Spurs - 28 year old Duncan.
Pistons - Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups in their primes.
The previous five saw two Spurs (Duncan/Robinson) and three Lakers (Bryant/Shaq) championships, then we're getting into Michael Jordan's Bulls and Hakeem Olajuwon's Rockets. I could go on forever.
Even if Boozer can play at the level he was at five years ago, he was never great at creating for himself. His best years came alongside Deron Williams, who is one of the league's best at creating opportunities for other players. Derrick Rose is a great player, but making other players better is not his forte, hence, Boozer's decrease in production as a Bull. The Bulls will be lost when they're in a clutch situation and need a playmaker to make something happen, and that will hurt them when they are deeper in the playoffs.
I've got them winning tonight and finishing off the Sixers in five or six games. They're still a great team, but without Rose they don't have the star power to propel them to a championship. They'll be hard pressed to make the Conference Finals should they face the Celtics next round; and no chance they'd beat the Heat. Tough break for a very good team.