The first key

A whole week of hype is coming, and it's probably well-deserved. While I fear that it won't be the most aesthetically-pleasing series, it's full of fun matchups and compelling storylines.

But first to re-cap what the Bulls were able to Miami, the importance of the conquest almost seems diminished because it was so thorough. Were the Heat simply that bad? Perhaps, but damn did the Bulls look good in these 4 games, and most importantly played well offensively even in games where they didn't shoot well. And while the frontcourt proved to be the constant I had hoped for ('battle-tested' was a term Riley aptly used) it was the consistency of Gordon and Deng that led the way.

Deng was phenomenal and perplexed the Heat all series, averaging 26.3 points on 58% shooting.  And it was mostly a typical performance: moving without the ball and getting open looks. He seemed even more confident and aggressive with his mid-range game than usual, but rarely forced anything. Even when he was 'forcing' and demanding the ball in the paint at points, it was to exploit the obvious mismatches he had over Heat defenders. He won't have that same degree of luxury against Tayshaun Prince, but he's playing at such a high level right now (and in the way he plays within the offense) that I don't see him being slowed down that much. Maybe the Bulls can't use him as a top option this series but he'll always be moving and getting open.

But while Deng got the most attention for his raised production this postseason, I've been even more impressed with Ben Gordon. Luol said it after game 3, the Heat were gearing to stop Ben and were trying to trap him at every opportunity. Deng gets shots within the offense, but Gordon is  the offense. People want consistency out of Gordon? look at this:

Min FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A PTS
Game 4 45 6-16 3-7 9-10 24
Game 3 38 7-16 2-5 11-14 27
Game 2 44 11-19 5-8 0-0 27
Game 1 43 7-19 0-5 10-11 24

Didn't matter how he got the points, Gordon did what the team needs him to do: stay on the floor and keep scoring. The only game where he didn't feast at the line was when he was bombing away 3-pointers. Hopefully sometime soon the label 'streak-shooter' can be shed, because it's just a nice way of saying a player is average. Ben Gordon is special, and he had a fantastic series. While Deng couldn't be single-covered by the Heat, the whole Heat team defense had fits with Gordon. He had some bad turnovers but was overall level-headed when handling the trap, he'd come around screens and force fouls on 'showing' Miami bigs, and he'd put his head down towards the paint-dwelling shotblocker's punishment, which, like much of what the Heat could muster this series, was slow and late.

If the Bulls are going to take Detroit it'll take a lot, but it will start with these two. Sure, saying the team's best players will be needed isn't exactly news (unless you're one to over-value 'the little things'), but what comes after early flashes of brilliance in a career (if it ever does) is consistency, and so far Deng and Gordon have shown it, and as a result the Bulls have as well.

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