Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nice try, Bulls

The Bald Truth

When the Bulls were down 10 with 12.8 seconds to go, I was trying to figure out how they were going to make a 10-point play to send the game into the first of 10 overtimes.

It was that kind of series.

The Balder Truth

Congratulations to my old Marquette friend, Doc "He Was Glenn Back Then" Rivers, for his Celtics managing to survive the Baby Bulls.

Next up: The Orlando Magic. Not exactly a vacation at Disney World.

If Rivers' best player, Paul Pierce, doesn't do significantly better in the next round, the tired Celtics will get swept.

The Letter

From loyal reader and frequent e-mailer Ron Pritchard of Dixon, Ill.:

All of the "experts" that were screaming when the Bulls picked Joakim Noah are pretty quiet now. The kid's playing pretty good basketball. Same thing goes for those who thought the Bulls should have picked Michael Beasley. Derrick Rose didn't turn out too badly, either.

Second point first: Not too many "experts" said the Bulls should take Beasley over Rose. Beasley will be a very good NBA player but it's a point guard's league and most of us knew Rose would be a good one.

As for Noah, I have been one of his detractors and I'll admit he has exceeded my expectations. During long stretches of Game 7, he was the Bulls' best player - which probably wasn't a good thing for the Bulls. 

Still, at best, Noah is a one-dimensional "Worm Lite" - a rebounding specialist and defensive pest. 

I think it's safe to say we all can agree on this: NBA power forwards shouldn't shoot like girls.


Much has been made and will continue to be made of the Bulls' fight and grit and spirit in almost upsetting the defending champions.

Well, while I give them their props for refusing to fold and making this one of the most memorable playoff series in NBA history, let's get one thing clear:

These Celtics bear little resemblance to last year's champions.

Kevin Garnett is out and one of his top backups, Leon Powe, suffered a season-ending injury in Game 1. The absence of Garnett, especially, changed everything. Boston's defense is nowhere near what it was. 

I said it before and I'll say it again: The Bulls were the deeper, more athletic, more talented team. They should have won the series - especially after stealing homecourt advantage.

It will be interesting to see what GM John Paxson does from here. The Ben Gordon decision will be excruciating - and I just don't see how they keep him. From there, questions abound.

If Gordon leaves, who will take the big shots and score the big baskets for this team? (Rose, perhaps, if he continues to develop?) If the Bulls do figure out how to bring Gordon back, how do they find enough money to pay the superstar perimeter player and stud inside presence they still need to be taken seriously as contenders? Is Luol Deng as big a dog as he appeared to be these last two seasons? What can John Salmons and Brad Miller do for the team over a full season? Will Tyrus Thomas, who is due a fairly sizable raise, ever really be a player? What kind of coach is Vinny Del Negro?

Optimistic Bulls fans look at this seven-game loss to the Celtics and see a team ready to break out. But I look at the Bulls' parts and still see a team nowhere near as good as the Cavaliers, Magic and Celtics (with Garnett). They're a superstar or so behind the Heat and Hawks, too.

Although that's progress from earlier this season and last year, let's not forget that it was only 2006-07 when the Bulls won 49 games and were considered a team ready to break out.

Instead, they just broke.

Pax has a lot of work yet to do ... and not a lot of room under the salary cap and luxury tax to do it.

Losing this epic series to the Celtics probably will be as good as it gets for most guys on this team not named Derrick Rose.

1 comment:

  1. is that shoots like candice parker or chamique holdsclaw...having been to a pro women's game or 2 and i much prefer the atmosphere there..