The Chicago Bulls are not ready to compete for the NBA championship.
Despite their league leading record, having the coach of the year and the MVP, and maintaining a roster of young, talented and energetic players, the Bulls proved after last night’s 101-93 loss to the Miami Heat that they aren’t quite there yet.
Though they are ahead of schedule.
The fact that the Bulls went 62-20 this year without a consistent second scorer and with constant lapses on the defensive end lets you know how good this team can be once it finds a better two guard than Keith Bogans.
Right now this is a one-horse team with a ton of energy guys that when the game is in their they can swing a game in their favor. Taj Gibson, Omer Asik and Joakim Noah can outhustle, outwork and out play any player on the opposing bench. The problem is that when they play a more experienced and composed squad like the Heat they get exposed.
When you watched the Bulls last night you saw just how manipulative their energy can be. Whether its Derrick Rose slamming home two jaw dropping dunks, Noah coming up with huge rebounds or Boozer lifting spirits with an emphatic put back dunk you can tell that this team can wear you out with their hustle and build up a ton of momentum.
But the reason why this team isn’t ready for primetime is their reaction to receiving a counterpunch or when they can’t muster up any energy at all. Once LeBron James rocked home a monster dunk late in the third quarter and Mike Miller ran off a string of huge shots the Bulls went into a catatonic state.
Their was no offensive mojo, Korver couldn’t knock down a jumper, Watson and Boozer couldn’t create their own shot, Noah was ineffective and Rose either forced a bad pass, took an off balanced shot or just dribbled with no end in sight.
To put it plainly they look like a mess when only Rose is the only person that can find his shot and no one is in a rhythm.
Their inexperience isn’t uncommon. The old adage in the NBA is that young teams don’t win titles, the old guys do. The Bulls haven’t played in enough games like this together to know what to do or what to expect in the moments. Give these guys another year and another piece or two and they’ll be primed for the big moment.
Don’t believe me? Look no further than the team that they share the United Center with during the season.
The Chicago Blackhawks were in the same boat as the Bulls two years ago heading into a Western Conference Finals showdown with the Detroit Red Wings.
The Hawks were an extremely young nucleus that was coming together before our very eyes and were setting the league on fire. Patrick Kane was lighting up the playoffs with a hat trick that buried the Canucks, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were Norris Trophy like defense that could swing a game with their physicality… and none of it mattered once the Red Wings got on the ice with them because the Wings were too experienced and too battle tested for the novice Hawks.
After their 5 game debacle the Blackhawks came back last year to run through Nashville, Vancouver and San Jose to make the Stanley Cup Finals and roll to a title.
The Hawks learned from their mistakes, added Marian Hossa for goal-scoring help and knew how to handle the big moments late in the game one year later. The Bulls are in the same boat.
They have to lose to the Heat to get to where they want to be. They have to endure an offseason of what ifs and could’ve been’s in order to seize the NBA title. In other words you have to lose it before you can win it.
Their 62 wins and regular season dominance wasn’t an aberration by any stretch of the imagination. Think of it as a preview of things to come. The Bulls have the talent, but not all of the pieces in place.
They need one more year of seasoning and this Eastern Conference Final heartbreak to fuel their future title runs. They need a consistent shooter and another guard that can find his own shot and take pressure off of Derrick Rose to do it all. They need to learn how to keep their composure in the big moments. Right now they don’t know how.
They will learn though. By this time next year you should be seeing Chicago back in the Eastern Finals ready to make a run for the NBA title and coming up big in big moments.
If you question my prediction then look no further than the Stanley Cup banner of the Blackhawks last year. Jonathan Toews and company did it, Derrick Rose and company will too.