Scalabrine gauges Bulls' playoff potential

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
12:13
PM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com
[+] EnlargeJames, Wade & Bosh
Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesThe Heat might have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but do they have enough size in their frontcourt to defend in the playoffs?
The Chicago Bulls might be one of the NBA's top defensive teams, but Brian Scalabrine isn't ready to call them a championship contender until he sees how they defend in the playoffs.

The Bulls lead the NBA in opponents' field-goal percentage (.424) and are third in the league in fewest average points allowed (91.9), but Scalabrine said the key to success in the playoffs is how a team defends at the rim.

"I know in my opinion we have some guys on this team that can play at a championship level. I just have to see our team as a whole," the Bulls reserve forward said Thursday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "I've got to see our team ... how do we respond to Orlando and Dwight Howard, and how do you respond when you see Miami, and I want to see LeBron James and Dwyane Wade at the same time. Can we challenge all the shots at the rim and make it tough for them?

"The playoffs is about, at the end of the day, your bigs have to be able to contest shots at the rim and make guys miss at the rim. Obviously, you have to control the pick and roll, but there's going to be 20 possessions where a guy is going to turn the corner and get to the basket. We need to be able to stop guys at the rim without them fouling. If we can do that then I feel like we are a championship-caliber team. Offensively, because we have Derrick [Rose]'s ability, we'll be able to play offensively in the playoffs."

After a 106-88 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night, the Bulls are tied with the Miami Heat for the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The first season of the superstar teaming of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh started slow but the Heat are still 20 games over .500.

Even with the super trio, the Heat's lack of big post players might hurt them, Scalabrine said.

"I have to give Miami some credit because I know what their level of talent is. I know what LeBron James can do, and I know what Dwyane Wade can do. I think [a lack of size] does hurt them," Scalabrine said. "I think in the regular season you can go small, you can play small ball. I'm a big believer that in the playoffs you have to have size. You have to have a rebounding frontcourt that can challenge layups, get rebounds and set hard screens.

"I don't know if they have it. Maybe they do, maybe they don't. If you compare them to Boston or even if you compare their frontline size to us, I just don't see how they have that size. But they have LeBron James which is in and of itself a special guy."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5