Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Pippen Ain't Easy State of the Union...Playoff Style!

Take a look at this picture. Joakim Noah is as shocked as everyone else that the Bulls are fighting for the number three seed in the playoffs. He might be shocked the Bulls are even IN the playoffs considering what this team has gone through this year. Well Pippen Peoples, the Chicago Bulls have done it. They have officially qualified for the playoffs. How? I’ll never know. I  promise you this is the real life basketball version of that baseball movie Major League. With the  injury to Derrick Rose and the trade of Luol Deng to the  Cleveland Cavaliers for a box of Newports and Puma sweats, management decided to start retooling (also read tank) for the future. If  you are a NBA fan, you’ve obviously heard about the way coach Mark Jackson has been treated in Golden State describing the situation in Oakland dysfunctional. This is complete garbage. I’m a lifelong Oakland Raiders fan. NOW THAT’S DYSFUNCTIONAL! When I hear stories about these other teams, it makes the accomplishments of Tom Thibodeau and Joakim Noah all that more remarkable. Now this franchise could have easily had that label. If the plan had gone the way it was supposed to, the Bulls would be in the lottery, everyone could blame it on the Rose injury, justify the Deng trade by saying they would start over, case closed.

We here at Pippen Ain’t Easy have made an evolution on how we cover the Bulls over the last few months. As a television Newscast Director I realize how the media that covers a NBA franchise leans a little toward the biased side. We do not. We want the reader to take what we say, consider it then take it into future games and see what happens. We’ll take the tendency of a Bulls player (or another team’s player) and bring it to the attention of the everyday NBA fan to see how it affects the outcomes of games. I was asked by one of the Pippen Peoples…Who’s side am I on? Let me answer, basketball. Basketball is a simple game. If you score more than the other team, 100% of the time you win. If you looking for analysis through rose-colored glasses, we are not for you. Now you’re probably asking yourselves…Why is this guy saying this? Here’s your answer. Every scenario that I have stated on this website is for the playoffs. There are two different seasons, the regular season and the postseason. The postseason is where all of the weaknesses are magnified. The playoffs are where tendencies get exposed. The playoffs are where your opponent find  a way to eliminate one of your strengths. It’s going to happen. Going into the playoffs Pippen Ain’t Easy is going to do a season in review going into the postseason. Enjoy!

1) The best thing that ever happened to the Chicago Bulls was when Derrick Rose went down…for the season…again.

To all the fans out there who dropped $100 dollars for that Derrick Rose jersey out there reading this, sorry. Truth be told Derrick Rose rushed back too soon to the court in the first place. If you had been paying attention, D-Rose AND the Bulls learned a lesson from last year holding the aura that is “will he or won’t he return” over everyone’s head. Rose was never in any danger of returning for the playoffs. Here’s the caveat, that’s the good news. To all the fans that were dogging him out for not coming back (believe me everyone, there were plenty) quick enough have no clue about the game of basketball. This is a game of speed and rhythm. Anyone can shoot in an empty gym. It tends to be a little different when you have two or three guys hanging on top of you slipping elbows in your ribs while you shoot. Derrick Rose did not look comfortable this season when he played. He looked mechanical and was unsure of himself, hence he had trouble finishing at the rim. Derrick Rose was quoted that he was not going to change his game. He’s delusional if he doesn’t think he has to change his game now. Here’s why…

The offense is completely different now.

The Chicago Bulls offense is built totally around Joakim Noah now. The Bulls put Joakim at the high post and everyone else move without the ball with Noah making decisions based on what the defense gives him. Before the injuries the Bulls rolled the ball out and let Derrick Rose’s quickness and the nastiest crossover dribble since Allen Iverson retired set things up for his teammates. Do you like what Taj Gibson is doing these days? It’s because the chemistry  between Noah and Gibson, (who I call the “Blues Brothers” because they give opponents the blues) is undeniable. They are among the best passing big men in the NBA on the interior. Do you think that would happen with Rose in the lineup? I’ll wait. Time’s up, nope.

His body is not going to let him.

It really trips me out when everyone compares the Adrian Peterson, the running back of the Minnesota Vikings knee injury to everyone else. Derrick has two major knee injuries on his résumé now. He does not have the explosion that he had in his MVP season. He needs to change his game to not only add years on the back of his career, but to build on the success that his teammates have achieved without him.

2) DJ Augustin would have won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award if he would have played the entire season for the Bulls.

Against the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night, Augustin led the Bulls in scoring with 23 points of the bench in 28 minutes. Let’s be clear. The Bulls’ undisputed leader and MVP is Joakim Noah. However going into the playoffs, it’s going to be Augustin who is the most important. Why? Because DJ Augustin has been the Bulls most consistent scorer the Bulls have had basically all season, especially from the perimeter.  Let’s take this further, DJ is the Chicago Bulls leading scorer since Luol Deng packed his bags for Cleveland. Pippen Ain’t Easy has noted numerous times that Augustin should be signed as quickly as possible before he bolts for another team like the rest of the guards before him. Of course we all know that this is something management will not even consider until probably the last-minute when some other team signs him like Nate Robinson was last year. But let’s think about this a minute. Why not lock him up now? He has done everything Robinson has plus he ‘ll actually play within the realms of the Bulls offense. Here’s the bonus, Coach Thibodeau actually can look at Augustin without his blood pressure rising because he actually plays some defense. If Augustin wasn’t on this roster, the Bulls may not be in the playoff chase.

3) Taj Gibson is a professional player that is the blueprint of what NBA players should do to succeed in this league.

This draft coming up is being hyped up to being one of the best drafts talent wise since 2003. You know, the LeBron, Melo, D-Wade and Darko Millicic draft (just kidding, relax…just jokes.) Well if these guys need a player to emulate by way of work ethic, Taj Gibson is your guy. This guy has had an amazing year. He has gained the one thing that is imperative to be successful on this roster, Tom Thibodeau’s trust. If you don’t think so, ask Carlos Boozer who no matter how well he plays, (and he has for the  last few games) his behind is on the bench when the street light comes on aka the 4th quarter. The work that Gibson has done in the offseason is undeniable. His mid range jump shot is reliable and consistent. Let’s take a look at that, can anyone name three NBA players that has a consistent 15-17 foot jump shot like Gibson’s? Good luck with that. That obvious hard work has endeared him to Joakim Noah who obviously enjoys playing with him. It has quietly been the foundation that has carried the Bulls since the Deng trade.

Well here’s some of the scenarios that have gotten the Bulls to where they are right now. Continue to log on to Pippen Ain’t Easy throughout the playoffs for information that will be important to you.

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