CHICAGO — In other sports, the typical thing to do when a playoff spot is clinched is to rest your players.
The Bulls have the Central Division all wrapped up with 19 games to go.
But the Chicago is showing no signs of stopping anytime soon. They just last week leap frogged the Miami Heat after eyeballing their second seed positioning all year. Chicago has now turned full speed ahead towards Boston’s top spot in the East, a position the Bulls are only 1.5 games out of.
Chicago is molten lava right now. They’ve arguably been the best team in the NBA the past 10 games going 8-2 and being the first and only team at the moment to have their Division already won. They have the largest first place lead in their Division with Indiana sitting an uncatchable 18.5 games behind the Bulls. The team with the next biggest divisional lead is the Celtics with 12.5 games on the Knicks.
The Bulls are 5-1 in their last 6 road games and head back to the United Center where they are an Eastern Conference best 27-4, for a short three game stretch. Chicago is currently 45-18 and are a half game behind Dallas for the NBA’s third best record, 1.5 behind the Celtics for second and 6 behind San Antonio for the best. And even though they sit at fourth best in the league, they’re in excellent company: tied with the LA Lakers.
So with the Bulls just 1.5 games behind Boston for the top seed in the East, why are the Bulls still getting largely ignored as true championship contenders?
If the Eastern Conference road to the Finals runs through Chicago and the United Center, who can beat the Bulls 27-4 home record? Of contending teams, only the Magic have beat the Bulls in Chicago with Miami, Boston and L.A all losing at the United Center. Plus, that place is loud during the regular season, but home playoff games are a noise nightmare for opposing teams.
Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.If the road to the Finals runs through the Windy City, will the Bulls finally become the favorites to emerge from the East to face (most likely) L.A. or San Antonio?
They’ll be hard to bet against, that’s for sure. But the story will go from will the Bulls make it out of the first round to which team will upset the Bulls and when.
That’s just the way the mainstream ESPN cookie is going to crumble. It’s honestly going to take Derrick Rose and the Bulls sweeping their way into the Finals for them to get any sort of credible respect from the majority of sports media.
Don’t get me wrong, they’ll get the old ‘well good for you’ pat on the back, which is the popular trend currently. But no one will truly take them seriously until the break the Celtics in Boston, pin them and force them to beg for mercy. Until that happens, Chicago will be that cute little team Derrick Rose has in the Windy City.
The short guy jumping for his ball as the tall guys toss his basketball between them.
Get a ladder and thats what the Bulls have done. They don’t need the media swirl that a Boston, Miami or L.A. needs. The Bulls are getting it done on the down low, below everyone’s radar. There isn’t three superstars trying to be the next days game-winning shot headline. There is a five man squad willing to pass the ball to one another and split time with their bench.
I’m hard pressed to think of a greater example of team effort.
Derrick Rose is the face of Chicago to everyone on the outside looking in, and don’t get me wrong he is the face of the franchise. But those people on the outside looking in, the band-wagon fans who are just now jumping on and buying their D-Rose jersey’s and D-Rose MVP shirts only see exactly that: D-Rose.
True Chicago fans see Noah, Boozer, Deng. They see Korver, Brewer, Asik, Watson.
The Bulls recognize this. They see a fan base that has been with them through the thick.
And very, very thick.
They are ready to reward these fans for their patience and undying love for one of the NBA’s greatest franchises. The Bulls will never be the Lakers. They will never be the Celtics or the Heat. They will always be something unique to the city of Chicago and a symbol of something different.
Derrick Rose may be the only name these band wagoner fans know now, but come this offseason, even your non-NBA fan will know who the Bulls are and how they are here to stay.