What Happened to the Bulls and Heat?

Josh Cohen

As the NBA season starts to get under way, a few early season themes have already become apparent. Primarily, the cream has risen to the top. The elite teams in this league, the Mavs, Spurs, Suns, Rockets and Celtics, have all lived up to expectations and played with a heightened sense of purpose. The same cannot be said for some of last year’s surprises, such as Golden State and Chicago. Although we are only two weeks in, we have already witnessed the great potential of Kevin Durant and a rookie class full of future stars. With this said, here is the good, the bad and the ugly that the NBA has offered us so far.

The Good:

Forget what has been said about Boston Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge in the past; this time he got it right. The Big Three have been all that Ainge and the Celtic faithful could have hoped for, as Celtic basketball has risen from the bottom of the Atlantic Division. At 6-0, Boston remains the only undefeated team in the league and they have been doing it in convincing fashion. Outscoring their opponents by 16 points per game, each member of the trio has been superb. The Big Ticket is averaging just less than 23 points and 16 boards. Mr. Jesus Shuttlesworth has shown a youthful touch that reminds me of his das at UConn, pouring in 22.6 a game. The third piece of the puzzle, Paul Pierce, has shined (23.6 ppg) now that he doesn’t have carry the load every night. Bottom line, the Celtics are by far the most dangerous team in the East.

There were big expectations for this year’s Houston Rockets squad and thus far they have been as good as advertised. Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming have continued to shine, putting up a combined 51 points per game, but it has been the gelling of the rest of this team that has led to a 6-1 start. Defensively, they don’t get much better than Shane Battier. The man takes charges, gets steals and has to guard the opponent’s best player nearly every night. Although Rafer Alston starts at the point, Mike James has provided key minutes off the bench so far and represents the third leading scorer at 10.9 ppg. Add in Bonzi Wells off the bench to give breathers to Chuck Hayes and this team has proven to have the depth and defensive capabilities to run with the Dallas Mavericks in the Southwest Division.

The Bad:

Has anyone had the opportunity to check out a Cavaliers game this season? I’ll save you the agony because they are pretty pathetic. I understand that they are 4-3 in a weak Eastern Conference, but until the offensive strategy switches from LeBron ball to some semblance of an offensive scheme, the Cavs are going nowhere. The offense is stagnant every possession down the floor. They pass to LeBron, let him do his thing and rely on their defense to win games. They have few three-point threats, a career underachiever in Drew Gooden and a coach in Mike Brown who was deemed the worst coach to ever lead a team to the NBA Finals. The season is young and the Cavs will probably end up the fourth-seed in the East, but they will never win a championship with this bunch of players.

The Ugly:

Does anyone else wonder how Heat Coach Pat Riley sleeps at night? Miami entered the night at 1-5, winless at home. They have scored a league low 84.5 points per game and the longer Dwayne Wade is forced to sit out due to injury, the further into the cellar the Heat will continue to fall. When Ricky Davis leads your team in scoring, it proves that Shaq isn’t getting enough touches. When the big man has gotten his touches he has shown that he can still bang on the low post, but too often the offense doesn’t run through O’Neal. This team is old, considering that Alonzo Mourning, Penny Hardaway and Jason Williams are all logging key minutes. This is shaping up to be another forgetful season down in Miami.

The team that has been by far the most disappointing this season is the Chicago Bulls. A team that has all the right pieces has come out of the gate in a daze, losing five of their first six contests, while a cloud hangs over them in the form of a potential blockbuster trade for Kobe Bryant. Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni, Tyrus Thomas, Kirk Hinrich, Ben Wallace; the list goes on and on of great young talent that makes the Bulls the deepest team in the East. Where the Bulls have been disappointing has been on the offensive end. Averaging only 86.5 points per game, the Bulls are being outscored by nearly 10 points a game. While this seems like a huge deal, the Bulls have always been a second half team. For a few years now, they have surged late in the season gaining momentum heading into the playoffs. I have to believe that there is too much talent on this team to not be putting up 95 points a game. Eventually they will get it together, meaning the Bulls will still get to 45 wins this season.