By Rock Mamola–
While yesterday was a statement win for the Chicago Bulls, reality needs to set in and sometime soon. While Bulls fans have been starved for NBA glory since the departure of Michael Jordan, this year’s Bulls team has far surpassed every single expectation Bulls fans had going into the season.
At their current record of 43-18, they have already surpassed the last two season’s win totals both resulting in one and done playoff appearances. In fact since Jordan last played in a Bulls uniform, the Bulls have only made it past the first round once in the five tries since #23 was last worn on the west side of town.
So why should this year be any different? Could this year be any different?
Of course as the Bulls stand now as the overall #2 seed in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, you would figure the Bulls would have a better than average chance of advancing in the postseason. The Bulls 8-3 record against the top five teams in the league should give Bulls fans even more solace that will happen. However Bulls fans need to realize some realities about the NBA and the roster that calls Chicago home first of all before letting a regular season sweep blind them from what could be a harsh reality come playoff time.
With the win over the Heat on Sunday, the expectations for the Bulls have jumped where some are starting to believe that they could indeed reach the NBA Finals. In recent history (since the 2001-2002 season), there have been nine head coaches to reach the postseason in their first full year as a head coach in the NBA. Only three of them made it past the first round, and none making the NBA Finals. If you are going to say that experience matters in the playoffs, it has to apply for players…..and coaches. While Tom Thibodeau will get some votes (if not enough to win) for the NBA Coach of the Year Award, Bulls fans must realize “Coach Thibs” is still only in his first full season at the helm.
What also should worry Bulls fans is the radical inexperiences of their starting five in the NBA postseason. Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah have never made it past the first round of the playoffs. Luol Deng is playing more minutes than at any time in his career and that could effect his play in crunch time. Keith Bogans does not give much on the offensive side of the ball, then again he has never started a playoff game. That leaves Carlos Boozer and his vast playoff experience, the problem is he is still trying to find his role with the return of Joakim Noah to the starting lineup.
Although the Bulls have been a machine in the regular season racking up wins over good and bad teams alike, they lack one key component that veteran playoff teams have. The Bulls lack “the switch”. We have all seen it before.
“The switch” is simply when a veteran team coasts into the playoffs through routine, then when all the critics begin to doubt if they can do it again they turn on “the switch”.
The Bulls have yet to get the power source for “the switch”.
While I have enjoyed this Bulls season as much as the next Chicagoan, I advise you to take caution. While the Bulls have been more than impressive throughout the regular season, I wouldn’t put more pressure on them by expecting things which they simply are not ready or made to do quite yet.
The future looks on the other hand smells like roses.
John “Rock” Mamola is the Host of The Rock Report on WSCR 670AM The Score. Friday nights at 10pm cst.
You can follow Rock at Twitter.com/RockMamola