While Chicago weather chilled down, things are about to heat up as the Miami Heat travels to the Windy City for the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday.
And it’s going to be a tale of one city.
Both Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose are Chicago natives, which certainly will make the games crowd pleasers in their hometown. Wade led the Heat to the 2006 NBA title, and Rose is helping to respark the Bulls' championship magic of the 1990s.
Better yet, the Bulls have secured home-court advantage throughout the playoffs after closing the regular season with the best record in the NBA, 62-20.
Both teams got to the finals by quickly dispatching their opponents in the best of seven games. The Bulls beat the Indiana Pacers 4-1 in their series and regained their stride to take the Atlanta Hawks 4-2. The Heat needed only 4-1 series to take down the Philadelphia Sixers and the Boston Celtics.
The conference finale is also probably the most attractive among the possibilities, as some fans are still bitter about LeBron James’ decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers after seven seasons and sign with Miami last year with the goal of winning a championship. What better team to humble and cool off James and company than the young, charging Bulls?
‘King’ James, a man without an NBA title crown, went live on television to tell the world that he was going to put on a Miami Heat uniform. Many fans and experts were, and remain, critical of The Decision and how it was done.
Miami is paying James and former Toronto Raptor Chris Bosh hefty contracts, leaving little money in its salary cap to secure a complementary supporting cast off the bench. Nevertheless, with three young superstars in Wade, James and Bosh, some experts are already saying the team will win the championship.
But they have to go through the Bulls, who sport the NBA's Coach of the Year in Tom Thibodeau and the league's Most Valuable Player in Rose. Also, let's not forget that the Bulls swept the Heat in their regular season matches this season, with all three games being won by four points or less.
The last time the Bulls reached the Eastern Conference Finals was in 1998, when Michael Jordan eventually led the team to the NBA championship by hitting the game-winning shot against the Utah Jazz in Game 6. Just saying …
Sketching out a game plan
Unfortunately, only those with access to cable television will be able to watch the game, as tipoff is set for 7 p.m. Sunday on TNT.
For the spectators who can't watch the game in the comfort of their home, Niles Patch has picked the five best spots to watch the blocks, dunks and hoopla locally.
, 5650 W. Touhy, Niles. There are so many televisions at this guy-oriented place, with beer bongs, comfy couches, hefty burgers and a fireplace, that you can see the game from practically any seat.
, 9003 N. Milwaukee Ave., Niles. Pull up a chair and join the friendly crowd, maybe with an iced bucket of brews.
7355 N. Harlem, Niles. Join the regulars at this neighborhood spot.
, 6700 W. Howard, Niles, is a pretty place, since it overlooks the Tam O'Shanter Golf Course. It has a casual atmosphere and a good selection of menu items. But it carries its weight as a sports bar, too.
, 5960 W. Touhy, Niles. Take a left to head into the bar area to watch the TVs. It's more of a nice restaurant than a bar, but no matter who wins, you can have a wood-fired pizza or choose from a variety of pasta, chicken, meat and vegetarian entrees.