A prevailing axiom of NBA playoff basketball is that a series doesn't really start until the road team wins a game. If that's true, then neither of the two conference finals series have started yet, and the Heat really need the Eastern Conference Finals to start tonight with them winning in Chicago to avoid going down 2-0 to the Bulls. While Dwyane Wade has proven his championship mettle, questions remain about the mental toughness of LeBron James and Chris Bosh, and about this Heat team overall. I doubt their ability to come back from a 2-0 deficit, making a win for them essential tonight. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that the winner of tonight's game will win this series. Feel free to mark these words and, if I'm eventually proven wrong, to point your finger at me and say, "A HA! You were wrong!"
Taj Gibson is good and I wish he were on the Suns, but you probably already know that if you've been watching him play and participating in these threads. His value goes beyond the pretty dunks like the one seen above, and beyond his pedestrian simple stats of 6.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in these playoffs. If you are a believer in advanced stats such as defensive rating (an estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions), he was 5th in the league for the regular season with 97.5 and is performing just as well in the playoffs with a 97 so far. Gibson isn't used much offensively but has been efficient when used, shooting .576 from the field in the playoffs with a 17.9 PER, while pulling down 9 rebounds per 36 minutes. See his full career stats here. As an explosive athlete who is a strong defender and rebounder with a limited offensive game, he's sort of a poor man's Josh Smith. The cost to the Bulls for Taj Gibson? The 26th pick in the 2009 draft and a $1.1M salary this year.
Tonight's Game: Heat at Bulls, 5:30PM PDT, TNT. Bulls lead series 1-0.