NBA Playoffs: Health could be the biggest obstacle for Bulls
Is this the year?
Is this the year the Chicago Bulls make it to the NBA finals? With possibly the most complete team Chicago has had in the Tom Thibodeau era, there is much reason to be optimistic. This year Chicago posted a 50-32 record, earning them 3rd place in the Eastern Conference.
Winning 50 games in a season is impressive for any team in the NBA. When you figure in how many games players have missed due to injury and those 50 wins look a lot more impressive.
This season, most of the team was in and out of the lineup with various injuries. Derrick Rose missed 31 games, Jimmy Butler missed 17 games, Joakim Noah missed 15 games, Mike Dunleavy missed 19 games, and Taj Gibson missed 20 games. All 5 original starters played less than a third of the games together. The starters didn’t even play 50% of their games together but the team still won 60% of their games by seasons end! This is nothing new to the Bulls.
They have been bit with the injury bug hard the last 3 years and have not missed the playoffs. It is of my belief, and I imagine many others, that if not for injuries, specifically the major knee injuries to star point guard Derrick Rose, the Bulls would have made it to the finals by now and maybe even won a championship. This year’s team is possibly the deepest.
They can go with a 10 man rotation and not have to worry about a big drop in production. The team is built to win now, and has the talent and depth to duke it out with anyone. The Only thing in Chicago’s way is injuries and oh yeah, MAYBE LeBron James.
The road to the finals will have to go through Cleveland. The Bulls are matched up with the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. This is a series they should win even with Rose trying to get his rhythm back. If they do advance, they will all in likely hood have to face the best player in the NBA in LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2nd round.
Although they are considered by many to be a lock to go the NBA Finals, I think they could just as easily be knocked off by the Bulls in the 2nd round. In fact, I believe the Chicago Bulls are the only team in the East that can beat Cleveland in a 7 game series. LeBron made it to the last four NBA Finals with the Miami Heat, and in the process knocked the Bulls out of the playoffs two of those years.
They have never been able to make it over the hump, but this just might be the year. They finally have an offense to go with their slightly declining, but still exceptional defense. They have one of the best coaches in Tom Thibodeau. They have a former MVP in Derrick Rose, who could end up surprising everyone with a few MVP like performances during the playoffs this year. They have a deep team, with everyone able to make a contribution. They have the skill, mental and physical toughness, and discipline to compete with anybody in the NBA. The Bulls have everything they need to bring a 7th title to Chicago.
If by some miracle, everyone on the team can stay healthy, maybe not even LeBron James can stop them.