Road To The Playoffs: Chicago Bulls

Current Record:  34-20
Projected Record: 58 -24
Current Seed: 3rd

Strengths:
~ 3 point shooting
~  Low post scoring
~ Pau Gasol and Derrick Rose
~ Rebounding

Weaknesses:
~ Low Post Defense
~ Pick and Roll Defense
~ Consistency
~1st quarter execution

Tradable Assets :

Taj Gibson

Headline During Pre-Season:

Will Derrick Rose Be Derrick Rose?

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During the entire pre-season Bulls Fans had one thing on the mind – will derrick rose be an effective player on the court? Derrick had only played 10 games in nearly 3 years. Derrick had played on the Men’s Us team in the FIBA tourney and an answer was even murkier than before. Derrick would play timid, the media would blast him, he would come back with a strong performance the next game. There was a lot of headlines questioning if Derrick would be the player we knew him to be. Coupled with new additions such as the timeless Pau, the Unknown Mirotic, along with the rest of the cast one thing was evident- Derrick Rose would be the glue that held this team together and the success of the team would be on his shoulders.

Headline Before the All- Star Break:

Inconsistent Bulls

Gasol has been the only consistent player all season

Gasol has been the only consistent player all season

The Bulls have looked elite some games, and befuddling on others. Couple that with the fact that key players such as Noah, Gibson, Butler, Dunleavy and Rose have all missed a significant amount of games. The Bulls have been inconsistent for most of the season. A lot of it has to do with the 180  turn around of the scheme that Bulls run. Last year the Bulls where a defensive scrappy team. This year they are an offensive finesse team. The landscape and scheme has changed a ton. With sharpshooters all around, the Bulls finally have the spacing for Derrick that they always needed. What has been lost is the the defensive presence that Bulls have had in the paint. The Bulls have been getting killed most of the season on high pick and rolls. In fact, it was not until February that they have made the adjustments to stop that one single play. Needless to say this team is a working progress. After the Break it is going to be push or shove time for the Bulls. Can they stay healthy enough to start to build momentum before the playoffs?

Headline After the All-Star Break:

Time To Shine

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It’s put up or shut up  time for the Bulls. Remember that you heard this here first:

If the Bulls do not reach the Finals, Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls front office will part ways at the end of the season.

The Bulls have a very loaded roster. To be honest, I believe that they have the deepest roster in the league. With all the pieces that they have, they are more than capable of reaching the finals. Tom needs to make a couple of changes first before anything productive happens. For starters, Tom still does not know what to do with the rookies- They have enough understanding to play, but a combination of Tom’s stubbornness and attempt at being fair prevents Tom from using them more often.

Tom also needs to working on time-management. While it is important to treat games here on out as playoff practice, it is also important to understand the fine line between preventing your guys from getting complacent and overworking their butts off. Players like Snell and Mirotic can really benefit from playing more minutes down the in this period. They may come in handy come playoff time.

Last, the Bulls need to run their offense through Derrick like they did recently against the Cavs. The offense flows better when Derrick has full control. This means that players like Jokiam, Butler, Dunleavy and Gibson should not be handling the ball at the top of the key when Rose in on the floor. We have seen how stagnant the offense can get when the rest of the team is left to fend for points and it is not pretty.

The Bulls will have a difficult road to the playoffs. With so many good teams on the rise like the Hawks, Raptors, and Wizards, it will be imperative that the Bulls get a form of consistency against these teams now. The biggest hurdle will be  answering the question can the Bulls go toe to toe with the Cavs come playoff time. Lebron and company have only gotten stronger with the additions of Shumpert, Smith, and Mozgov. Success for the Bulls with hinge on execution in the first quarter, something they have struggled against particularly in the month of January. If they can get a handle on that, they will begin to build a real championship team.

Round They Will Reach: NBA Eastern Conference Finals

Bulls have not been to the Eastern Conference Finals since the 2010-2011 season. Lebron will meet the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals, but I can see it going either way at this point. Both teams have a lot of strengths and a lot of flaws. In the end its a tie, so the Tie Break is Lebron vs Derrick Rose. I decided to choose Lebron. he has been here too many times to know what to do, and that edge along should get the Cavs past the Bulls. The Bulls will not go down without a fight, and I am hoping for an exciting playoff series. There is too much inconsistency at this point in the season to believe the Bulls will make it to the playoffs. They have approximately 2 and half months to change my mind.

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