If you've had the chance to watch the Miami Heat or Chicago Bulls play defense this year you know how great they can be. Though the Heat owns the 7th ranked defense, and the Bulls hold the 2nd spot in terms of PPG given up, it's no secret that nobody plays defense like these two teams. Over the last couple of weeks the public's general perception in making their NBA picks on who will win the NBA Championship has shifted to the Bulls because of the Heat's recent lackadaisical play. Everyone sees an Eastern Conference match-up between these two top-tier NBA teams but the question remains, "Who is the better team?". Two key factors will ultimately determine the difference between the Heat and the Bulls; rebounding and depth. The first glaring difference between these two teams is rebounding. The Bulls have the NBA's top ranked rebounding team averaging 46.3 per game. Of those 46.3, 14.1 are offensive boards which is also good for best in the league. In comparison, the Heat finds themselves outside of the top 20 in the league averaging 41.6 rebounds per game. Second chance points on the offensive end, and prohibiting offensive rebounds on the defensive end makes the Bulls a more efficient team as well as puts them in a position to have a substantial advantage over the Heat.
The second disparity between these two teams is their bench depth. Because the Heat shelled out max contracts to LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, their payroll flexibility has been restricted. Though they have had a couple of solid players sign at a discounted price their lack of bench depth is a glaring weakness. In comparison, without question the Bulls have the deepest team in the NBA. Though the Bulls only have one superstar in Derrick Rose, they go 10-12 deep on their bench. They have shown just how good they can be by beating team after team as Rose has battled injuries all year and the Bulls have continued to find themselves in the "W" column. One of these wins included a pivotal win over the Heat in which Rose watched from the sidelines wearing his newest suit and tie. Most would agree that the Bulls 6-12 players could compete against most NBA teams without the Bulls starting five. That's a scary thought in itself.
The Chicago Bulls look to have the #1 seed locked up. Home court advantage, one of, if not the league's best defense, the deepest bench, and the league's best rebounding team looks to have the Bulls in a great position heading into the playoffs. Though this Bulls team is built differently than the Jordan-era dynasty teams, one thing remains the same, they both rebound and play great defense. When making your NBA picks, look for this Bulls team to knock off the Heat this year, and potentially start a dynasty of their own and show that you don't need a "big three" to win NBA championships.