CHICAGO (WSCR) Most fans were relieved when the Chicago Bulls knocked off the Indiana Pacers in five games. The Pacers had given the Bulls trouble, but Chicago still managed to pull out the games in the fourth quarter.
For whatever reason, the Bulls had played down to the Pacers’ level in the first round. In Game 1 against the Atlanta Hawks, it appeared that once again the Bulls weren’t able to raise their play to a playoff level.
“What the Bulls raised was expectations,” Steve Aschburner, of NBA.com, said on the Mully and Hanley Show. “They raised everybody’s expectations and probably their own by the way they went through the regular season. It’s been said and it’s getting to the point of cliche, if not there already, but they probably played harder, they brought more focus to 82 games. And those 82 games of the regular season are approached differently by many of the top teams. Some push hard all the way through, Chicago did that, particularly with Tom Thibodeau and his approach to basketball. Other teams, you know, pace themselves. Other teams use those games to sort of tune up, to build, whatever it takes to let guys get healthy.
LISTEN: Steve Aschburner On The Mully And Hanley Show
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“Chicago doesn’t seem, and certainly hasn’t shown us that they can shift into that next playoff gear. And I think even the laughed-at Atlanta Hawks, you know, have found a different gear, and the Bulls have yet to show that they have one, from the way they played. They played harder than the other teams for most of the season, they got the No. 1 seed…Now the other teams are locking in, they’re game planning day after day for the same opponent. I think Thibodeau, the way he burns midnight oil, he’s able to do playoff preparation in the regular season. He puts the time in, and now the other staffs are getting the same amount of time. They get days off between games, they get repeat opponents, and that edge seems to be gone.”