Sometimes getting too caught up in one opponent can become the undoing of a team. The Chicago Bulls have a list of teams that should challenge them in the East, but besides the Miami Heat are there any they should fear?
New York Knicks can score with Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith
One of the bigger surprises last season in the NBA was the New York Knicks. A team that had made several key moves over the past two years seemed destined for another low playoff seed when suddenly scoring champion Carmelo Anthony and Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith led the team on a late-season run that landed them the second seed in the Eastern Conference. They celebrated with a first round series win over the Boston Celtics. However it didn't last long as they were soon ousted by the Indiana Pacers. Since then the team has done everything they can to improve from trading for Andrea Bargnani and signing Metta World Peace in free agency. On paper their roster looks formidable. That doesn't mean Chicago should fear them. The Bulls owned the Knicks last season, routinely beating them at home or on the road for a 4-0 and doing it without star point guard Derrick Rose. With him coming back, it's hard to see New York's additions having enough of an impact to help them overtake the Bulls.
Derrick Rose vs. Deron Williams highlights Brooklyn Nets matchup
The Brooklyn Nets meanwhile have revenge on their mind. No team probably felt the sting of playoff humiliation more than them when a hobbled Bulls team limped into the first round series and still found a way to beat them, winning the decisive seventh game in Brooklyn. Since then the Nets have gone all out to improve their roster enough to overtake Chicago and Miami. They made a blockbuster trade for All-Star forwards Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from Boston and then signed veteran Andrei Kirilenko in free agency. Of all the teams in the East, experts agree they are the most improved. The question is can their star point guard Deron Williams thrive under new head coach Jason Kidd against Rose and the highly respected Tom Thibodeau? On paper the Nets have a slight overall advantage considering the improvements Chicago made to their roster but that is small comfort given they took similar advantages into the playoff series last season as well.
The fact is the Chicago Bulls should respect the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets but are talented and confident enough to not fear them. The same goes for the Indiana Pacers. Yet toppling the Miami Heat remains the goal.
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