Time for Game 7, Eastern Conference Uncertainty, DeMar DeRozan’s Role, and Other Bulls Bullets
When we do a google search for this year’s conference finals in the future, I’m not going to be surprised if all that comes up is a big old fart noise.
Both the East and West have failed to give us anything all that memorable, but I suppose there is a slight chance at redemption tonight if this series can build on what Jimmy Butler did in Game 6. His performance helped create arguably the best battle of this playoff round, so if we can at least see a similarly grand conclusion (from either team), we might be able to reduce the fart noise to a sad trombone whimper.
Boston and Miami meet tonight (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) in the first Game 7 in a Conference Finals since 2018. The one previous Game 7 between them was 10 years ago in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, a Heat home victory. Boston is 25-9 in Game 7s; Miami is 6-4.
More notes ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/vGOinq9JSD
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) May 29, 2022
• No matter who walks out of tonight’s Eastern Conference Finals elimination game, I want them to know one thing: The Chicago Bulls are coming for you!
• In all seriousness, I do think the East remains wide open heading into next season. While Jayson Tatum’s ascent this year has surely taken the Celtics up a notch – and the Heat’s consistency is always something to fear – I think there is too much talent in this conference to have a heavy favorite heading into the 2022-23 campaign. Not to mention, there are several teams who appear to be pretty darn fragile. Miami is only getting older, the Embiid and Harden marriage has a long way to go, the Brooklyn Nets’ future is up in the air, the Raptors are arguably still in need of a true star, the Hawks are open to trading basically everyone but Trae Young, and Cleveland is an extremely young group. The Milwaukee Bucks are the surest thing to be consistent contenders, but we saw what one injury can do a couple of rounds ago. So, again, while there is no lack of star power in the East, that also means there is a lack of certainty. This can truly become anyone’s game.
• With that said, the Bulls have their own massive questions to answer. While they showed at times last season that they could be a real threat, they also showed how fragile their success could be. Not only must they improve their depth and shooting heading into next year, but they also need to keep the best free agent on the board in Zach LaVine. If they do those things, though, why can’t they make more noise next season?
• DeMar DeRozan seems to love chugging the Haterorade, so I’m going to add some fuel to the fire: He won’t be able to do what he did this season again. Now, I’ll gladly sprinkle these words with some salt and scarf them down if I’m wrong, but I just don’t see a world where he posts another career-high scoring season together that’s worthy of an All-NBA Second Team honor. And that’s ok! He has already far exceeded his payday and overall expectations heading into his Bulls tenure. Plus, he was never meant to carry this large of a workload in the first place. That job is for Zach LaVine.
• Indeed, I think that’s something this front office has to remind LaVine heading into free agent discussions. The idea that this isn’t his team anymore is downright bonkers. He’s the 27-year-old who has shown progress every season and is just entering his prime. He is the one who will receive a max deal and is viewed as the franchise building block. DeRozan might be a big part of the game plan for now, but he was brought here to make LaVine’s life easier moving forward – not the other way around.
• Also, having a running mate like DeRozan who can keep things afloat while you miss time should be viewed as a positive. The last thing LaVine wants is for his own extended absence to severely damage the organization’s success. Having DeRozan there is why LaVine was able to still compete in the playoffs despite his season-long injury trouble. I hope he keeps that in mind.
• I cant wait for the 30 for 30 on Dwyane Wade’s secret mission to get Jimmy Butler in Miami. What if I told you one of the game’s brightest stars was one of the sneakiest spies. 30 for 30 presents … Dwyane Wade: The Butler Mission.
Interesting that Butler credited a conversation with Dwyane Wade for motivating him to his spectacular Game 6 performance. Wade & JB became fast friends during the ill-fated “3 Alphas” Bulls’ season that ended with a 1st round playoff loss to Boston.
— Mark Schanowski (@MarkSchanowski) May 28, 2022
• I’m going to be livid if this game ends on a huge 3 and we don’t get a Mike Breen “BANG!”
Mike Breen will not call tonight's Game 7 due to testing positive for COVID, an ESPN spokesman told The Post.
Breen feels fine and the hope is for him to be available for Game 1 of the Finals.
Mark Jones will replace Breen on Game 7 of Heat-Celtics tonight.
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) May 29, 2022
• LET’S GET TWO!
Chicago Cubs Lineup: Frank Schwindel Starts at First Base – https://t.co/rWzwzEBuOe pic.twitter.com/kdDlrH6AJh
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) May 29, 2022