Moment #6: The NBA’s Best Record is in Chicago
The Bulls were an average, .500 team in 2009. Vinny Del Negro was an average coach with an average gameplan and it resulted in an average record.
But in 2010 the Bulls revamped. They added Carlos Boozer via free agency and gave a new head coach the keys to the kingdom. Tom Thibodeau stepped in and not only implemented a hardcore coaching style that consistantly made him hoarse in post game press conferences, but he made this average team what it was at it’s core: a championship caliber squad.
The Bulls got off to a rocky start to 2010 but they quickly turned it around. One of the lowest points was a 107-78 home loss to the Orlando Magic. It was Carlos Boozer’s first game of the season and just their second home loss of the season. After that game the Bulls kicked it into high gear and really never looked back.
After that home loss the Bulls went 14 games at the United Center before losing a game in Chicago. Overall they closed out December going 12-2 after losing back-to-back games to Orlando and Boston to open the month. The Bulls went 16 games before losing consecutive games again and after that went 13 games without consecutive losses.
After the Bulls dropped two straight to the Warriors and Blazers on February fifth and seventh respectively, Chicago did not lose consecutive games until they played the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals in late May. That means the Bulls went a total of 32 games to close out the year without losing back-to-back games.
In fact the Bulls only lost 4 times in that span and it was the most important stretch of the season. In this period of time the Bulls leap frogged the Heat and the Celtics to claim first place in the East. Once attaining the top spot, the Bulls did not surrender it until losing to Miami in the Conference Finals.
Throughout the full 82-game season, the Bulls had winning streaks of Four (Nov. 8-16), Seven (Dec. 4-15), Five (Dec. 26- Jan. 4), Three (Jan. 14-17), Six (Jan. 20-Feb. 2), Four (Feb. 9-17), Three (Feb. 24-28), Eight (Mar. 4-17), Four (Mar. 24-26), and Nine (Mar. 30-Apr. 13).
Those huge chunks of winning were major reasons the Bulls not only finished with the best record in the NBA but their best franchise record since 1997. It was a magical year and the ride was one hell of a lot of fun. But the main thing the Bulls did in winning 62 games was establish that they weren’t just a mediocre and average team or a perennial eighth seed in the playoffs. They were and are a force moving forward and now it’s 62 that is the number to beat.