x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Heat and Bulls real battle for title of champions

Regardless of who wins the East Conference final, either Miami or the Bulls are the best the league has to offer.

It would be fun to believe that the Dallas Mavericks have discovered an inner strength, after all these years, and are headed for an unexpected but fulfilling NBA title.

It would be equally as fun to believe that Shaquille O'Neal will play 82 games next season and that Kevin Garnett will win the Nobel Peace Prize. But banking on any of that? Not a good idea.

We may not have a consensus on who will win the NBA title, but it seems safe to say that they will come out of the East.

Thus, the "real" NBA championships began yesterday in Chicago: the Miami Heat versus the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern finals, with the survivor ready to roll past the Mavericks for the NBA title.

Picking between the Heat and Bulls, however, is tough duty, almost coin-flip material. After LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh joined forces in Miami, the Heat were the early pick to win and the overwhelming choice to be widely loathed.

They struggled early, but here they are, still alive, fresh off a surprisingly easy thrashing of the Boston Celtics. The "Big Three" have had an entire season to figure out how to mesh - and ignore widespread obloquy - and in routing Boston they seemed to prove they have the answers.

The Bulls went 3-0 against Miami in the regular season, compiled the best record in the league and have the MVP in Derrick Rose, leader of a balanced team.

Whoever wins this showdown can begin thinking about how many diamonds they would like in their championship rings.