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By Shawn Muller-
(CBS) To say that the Bulls have looked good in the teams’ first two games of the 2011-12 NBA season would be a lie.
Sure, I was happy with the comeback win against the Lakers on Christmas Day, but I wasn’t happy with how they looked Monday night against the Golden State Warriors.
Thankfully, there is no need to worry just yet.
The season is still plenty early and the boys are nowhere near being in game shape. A shortened training camp and lack of preseason games would make even the best of teams look like anything but world-beaters, and it would be foolish for anyone to think otherwise.
That being said, however, the 99-91 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday night is really bothering me.
Not because the Bulls lost, but rather, how they lost.
Their performance was probably one of the most uninspired games I have seen this team play under the direction of head coach Tom Thibodeau.
Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis lit the Bulls defense up for a combined 47 points. The Chicago offense looked out of sync. Hell, the team spent most of the night just trying to get within 10 points of Golden State.
It seemed like Chicago would have rather been anywhere else in the world Monday than on a basketball court.
Maybe it was a bit of a hiccup after an emotional comeback win over the Lakers the night before, but that was not the Chicago Bulls we think/thought we know/knew.
At the same time, I am not afraid to give props to the Golden State Warriors.
In fact, they deserve credit for their performance.
Golden State’s new head coach Mark Jackson had his players out-hustling, out-working, and out-defending Chicago at every turn, and they deserved that win the other night.
But if Chicago would have shown the same fire and intensity they showed in the last four minutes of the game throughout its entirety, I am pretty confident the Bulls would be 2-0 heading into their matchup with Sacramento Thursday night.
Of course, I’m not crazy enough to think about hitting the panic button just yet.
I am confident that the Golden State game was just “one of those nights,” and that every team will have one of them sooner rather than later. But, if the Bulls plan on getting back to the Eastern Conference Finals and beyond, they cannot afford to turn the ball over 20 times (leading to 22 Golden State points), and have Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer combine for just 13 points on 4-of-17 shooting from the floor.
Thankfully, the team will have had a chance to regroup for a couple of days before heading to Sacramento on Thursday night to take on the Kings before heading back to Los Angeles to face the rejuvenated Clippers in the final game of the opening road trip.
If Chicago comes home for their United Center debut against the Memphis Grizzlies on New Year’s Day with a 2-2 record, Bulls fans should be thrilled.
Anytime you can leave a long road trip at or above .500—especially under the unique circumstances to start this season like this year—against the likes of the Lakers, the Warriors, and the Clippers (sorry Kings fans), that is a successful trip.
In all honesty, my biggest fear for this team is not how they start the season at the end of December, it is fatigue catching up to Chicago come late January and early February. Seven of their first 10 games of the season are on the road, with a brutal two-week, nine-game barnstorming tour out East starting Jan., 29 and ending Feb. 12.
That stretch of games in late January and early February are going to tell us a lot more about this edition of the Chicago Bulls than last nights game in Oakland.
Shawn Muller has lived in the great city of Chicago for 7 years. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in October of 2010, Shawn received his certificate in radio broadcasting. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” every Thursday night at 8:30 P.M., at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24. Read more of his blogs here.