Around Chi-Town: Looking at Bulls-Heat
Read the news-ticker: The young surging playoff contestant Bulls had taken it on the chin in Miami and were back in Chicago, no doubt still punch-drunk from the beating they had absorbed from Miami’s veteran Bermuda Triangle offense-defense of Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O'neal and Jason Williams.
Dwayne Wade Dons his Cape
No surprise about the results of the Miami games last week-Chicago fans knew the Bulls would play hard, would defend well and would be in every game until the end, even as NBA expert Sam Smith predicted Bulls in six. My heart told me the same-in seven. But with the proviso that they had to defend and if they could not contain Shaq, then they had to limit Wade to human dimensions and they needed to stop Miami’s other scorers.
That didn’t happen. Respond they did, and if the opponent had been, say, Milwaukee or Indiana, they just may have triumphed. However, the Bulls had to face a Pat Riley (remember him, Michael?) inspired and coached Miami Heat team that was primed for the Bulls. How that headline could have read if Chicago had turned the ball over less or at least scored an extra couple baskets in the waning seconds.
Still, Chicago mounted 11th hour furious comebacks in both games as Gordon, Hinrich and Nocioni were a force. In game two, Noce shot almost 100% and made a huge trey before turning the ball over at the end to set the stage for more D-Wade heroics, a la MJ. Still the Bulls made the Heat sweat, if that is possible.
Miami had the hot shot and singed Chicago with over 50% shooting. It seemed that Jason Williams and any of the steady vets on their bench scored at will with both teams furiously trading baskets when O’Neill was not dominating inside.
Now the Bulls have the Heat back at the United Center on Madison Avenue, Chi-town’s version, and you have to pick the Bulls to win at least one. Two Bulls wins will mean we have a series, and look out Miami, with all the commentators jumping back on the Bulls wagon. TNT’s Steve Kerr is a Bulls homer but he is right to point out the tough defensive spirit and resilience of this well-coached team. Nice to hear the commentators salivate over the Bulls for a change.
Miss the Playoffs, Earn Extra Lottery Pick?
It was last December and the Bulls were playing .500 basketball. I was getting antsy. I asked myself, “…shouldn’t the Chicago Bulls tank the remainder of the season, thereby landing a top-ten pick in the upcoming draft in addition to the Knicks’ (Bulls’) #1-5 pick they already have?”
Sound absurd? “Well, why not?’ I offered. Think that thought made me a defeatist tool?
Ask me if I care.
Look. Sorry I’ve got this edge, but as Bulls guy, I had been enduring a half-season of .500 ball, again. Like so much stale Curry sauce, the Bulls’ and their fans’ feeble hopes for this season was taking a hike south.
Plus, it was common currency that the best the Bulls could do this year was to get into the playoffs and proceed to get decimated by the Pistons. My thinking was they would then lose an extra chance at the lottery and would still go four and out against Detroit.
Bulls Draft/Trade Scenarios
The diagnostic refrains and surgical solutions ring redundant by now: the Bulls suffer from a lack of tough and tall veteran defensive big men as well as athletic, tall guards. Well, who can argue with that?
Yet it is also true that the Bulls have earned a rep throughout the league now as among the best of the ‘small ball’ teams in the NBA and as tough, resilient defensive stoppers.
Now picture the Bulls as they are constituted, but add two new ingredients to their front line: Joel Przybilla and Al Harrington, and know that the Bulls would simply dominate many teams, including some good ones, and would destroy poor and midling teams with a true inside-out game that could leave opponents shaking their heads in wonderment and earn real respect.
Now, be honest. Wouldn’t that be grand?
Such a strengthened Bulls team would be an immediate threat to move deep into playoff territory next year, easily dispatching teams like Philly, Washington and Milwaukee and giving Indiana, New Jersey, and Cleveland a run for their money before actually beating Miami in 6 or 7 games for the right to be destroyed by Detroit.
As Bulls GM John Paxon says, the team can also collect its ‘assets’ in this spring’s draft and hold on to them, at least until the right trade presents itself. You have to figure that takers would line up to grab the pick or that Paxon could later auction off the freshly drafted Rudy Gay, Adam Morrison, Aldridge or Bagnani from the Bulls, should they decide to move them for a veteran star. A go-to guy to polish off their fourth quarter flourishes when Ben ‘Jordan’ or Kirk ‘Heimlich Maneuver’ have an off day.
Who could fill the star bill? How about Paul Pierce or Rashard Lewis?
Stay tuned. Talk to you after Game 3.
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