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Barkley: Boozer vs. Bosh will decide ECF

3/1/2012
Carlos Boozer's lackluster performance in the postseason was one of the Bulls' biggest obstacles. Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Charles Barkley expects the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat to meet again in the Eastern Conference finals, and he expects that series to come down to one specific matchup.

"(Carlos) Boozer has got to outplay (Chris) Bosh," Barkley said Thursday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "That's what the series is going to come down to, Boozer is going to have to outplay Bosh.

"Can he? Yes, he can. Those two guys are both very solid players. It's a toss-up match-up. Whoever plays the best out of those two guys I think is going to win the series."

The Heat eliminated the Bulls in five games in the conference finals last season, but Barkley expects the series to be closer this year.

"The Bulls are going to play the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, and that is going to be a magnificent series," Barkley said. "That to me is a toss-up series. Rip Hamilton has to shoot the ball a little bit better, but that's going to be a great series.

"I was impressed with the Bulls last night (winning in San Antonio) because that is a very difficult place to win."

Barkley said the only advantage the Bulls have against the Heat is the inside tandem of Joakim Noah and Boozer.

"If they don't play well, no they cannot (win)," he said. "I'm a big Noah fan. He's got to do a great job on the boards."