Friday, April 28, 2006

Bulls upset? Closer than you think...

How good is Kirk Hinrich?

Hinrich is absolutely killing the Heat right now. His stat line is impressive enough - 16, 6 and 3 per - but its how he's been doing it that's got the Bulls on a roll right now.

Yea, Gordon has been on fire, and Nocioni is playing well, and Deng has been timely. But without Hinrich, this series isn't even close.

No one can guard him. He's shooting the lights out, he's making all the right decisions on the break, and most importantly, he gets in the lane whenever he wants. And once he's in there, its over. If he's not finishing, then he's finding shooters like its his job (probably because it is), and since Chicago is absolutely stroking the ball right now, that's very good for the Bulls and very, very bad for the Heat.

Plus, he is going right at Dwyane Wade. It's always something to see someone attack a valid superstar like that, and the Dwyane Wade-Kirk Hinrich battle has been an unexpected - and pleasant - surprise. Wade does his best to act like he doesn't care - honestly, has his expression changed yet this series? - but its obvious he does. You can see Wade playing differently against Hinrich, trying to make him understand just who he's dealing with, but Hinrich hasn't given an inch. There was a play where Hinrich drew an offensive foul against Wade, and on the next play, Wade forced a TO from Hinrich and then a foul, and his reaction was just a little too excited to mesh with Wade's icy playoff demeanor. Not that there's anything wrong with it; its just fun to watch.

But besides being fearless, he's tough as hell. When James Posey drilled him like a safety trying to knock a running back out of bounds, he didn't even fall over. What that says about Posey, we don't know, but we do know what it says about Hinrich. Dude's no push over.

While the Sun/Lakers series has everyone's attention as a legit 7/2 upset, the Bulls, we think, have just as good of a chance. The thinking goes that there is no way the Bulls can continue to shoot like this, but why not? They've done it for three games so far, why not a few more? Its easy to shoot when you are wide-freakin-open, and with Hinrich shredding the Heat's D and the Heat closing out on shooters as casually as possible, the Bulls' shooters are wide-freakin-open alot.

The Heat have yet to close out a game in this series, and that debacle at the end of Game Three was pathetic. They looked like a jayvee team. It was petty and immature: not exactly the qualities champions are made of. Meanwhile, the Bulls, led by Hinrich, have been pros throughout. Its not a popular pick, but we're telling you - there is an above average chance that there will be a pair of seven seeds in the second round. Are we ballsy enough to pick the Bulls outright? Well, no...but when they even the series, check back with us.

On a side note, Hinrich's play this series makes it even more ridiculous he wasn't invited to tryout for the US Olympic team. Luke Ridnour over Kirk? That's a joke, right? We know they needed a token white guy, so they threw Ridnour in there. And while Ridnour is a good player, Hinrich is just better. He does everything Ridnour does, plus he's a better scorer. Hinrich isn't token anything. The man is legit. He's emerging as an absolute superstar, and he would thrive in the international game. So do the right thing, Jerry Colangelo. Sign Kirk up for the stars and stripes. He's a better fit than Ridnour.

Game Four, Sunday afternoon. When the series is tied at two games a piece, remember who called it.

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