Why the Chicago Bulls Will NOT Win the Championship in 2011

The last Chicago Bulls team to win 62 games won the NBA Championship.[1] We have the MVP[2], coach of the year[3], defense, consistency[4], size, strength, speed, Ashton Kutcher-Moore’s baby brother, and Kanye West.  In the words of Johnny Drama, “victory!!,” is imminent! Right? Eh, not so much.  I’d love for someone to talk me down, convince me I should throw caution to the wind, but until then the following four points remain the biggest barriers to the Bulls hoisting up a seventh O’Brien Trophy.

1) One man cannot propel a team to a championship; especially if that one man is a point guard.

We need look no further than the 1989 & 1990 Detroit Pistons to see a team win a championship with a point guard as their alpha dog.  Many would argue that team won two championships because of their defensive prowess and not because of their leader Isiah “Come to My Office So I Can Sexually Assail[5] You” Thomas.  To that point, the ’89 Pistons are widely regarded as one of the greatest defensive teams in the history of the league.  What happened in the past is certainly not logically necessary to happen in the future, but the point remains: it is extremely difficult and unique to have a 6’3 point guard lead a team to a championship.

Having said that, I think Derrick Rose IS Isiah Thomas (Hoo, Hoo, Hoo, Hoosiers!), but the Bulls’ supporting cast IS NOT the Pistons’ supporting cast.  While I am amazed at Thibs ability to implement a defensive strategy focused on help side defense, swift rotations, and team boarding; I cannot say this team is defensively as sophisticated or talented as the Pistons’ teams.  More importantly and practically, the Bulls do not have a formidable “two.”  As amazing as D-Rose has been, he cannot do it alone in the playoff (though he damn near did it the whole regular season).  Unless Deng gives us 20/10/5 (while Boozer and Noah give us double doubles), we do not have enough to beat the elite teams (Orlando –yes Orlando-, Boston, and Miami) in a seven game series.

2) Lack of experience

This is the most glaring weakness I see in the team.  They haven’t been together for very long, and their core (Rose, Deng, Noah) has yet to win a playoff series.[6] While this alone does not make it impossible for them to win it all, it does serve as a serious barrier to the O’Brien Trophy.  It is no secret that it took Jordan seven years before winning a championship.  Teams need to learn from their defeat, remedy their deficiencies, and move forward with a trust in one another that can only be fomented by time and experience.

To that point, this team has yet to be in serious pressure moments that challenge the trust they have in one another.  After watching a good number of Bulls’ games this year (living in the midwest has some advantages) I am worried that the supporting cast folds up late in games, which prompts D-Rose to say, “fuck…this, we are not going to lose tonight.”  Where by he goes off and wins the game.  The problems with this strategy are twofold. First, saying, “fuck this we are going to go win” doesn’t work as well in the playoffs because of the added pressure and level of talent teams play against.  Second, how can we be sure after letting Rose bail the Bulls out of those regular season games, the supporting cast will be willing (or able) to step up consistently in the face of such adversity.  While I like the Bulls and OKC, let’s be real, neither has won a playoff series to this point (though OKC seems to be a year ahead in the experience department).

3) The Miami Heat

This has less to do with the Bulls and more to do with my impression of the Heat.  I have been arguing since the decision that Miami was going to the finals.  RE: https://25twofour.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/lebron-wade-bosh-the-nba-july-10-2010/.  This isn’t a knock on the Bulls as much as it is me giving it up to the Heat.  They have two of the six[7] best players in the league.  The rebut would be, “but these fools don’t have any experience being together either.”  Truth.  Two counters: first, both Wade and James have been to the finals, and second, it’s Wade AND James as opposed to Rose AND Rose.  Miami (and my prediction) is fortunate that Danny Ainge over-thought basketball, trading away a major piece of the Celtic’s heart and grit, Perkins.  Look for the Heat to beat the Bulls in six games in Miami.[8]

4) The Los Angeles Lakers

If the Bulls make it to the finals, they will be able to exploit the remains that are the LA point guards.  Beyond that, they have no answer for Bryant, Boozer cannot check Pau, Noah cannot check Bynum, and the Lakers bench is better than Chicago’s.[9] Though I am high on our bench, we cannot match LA’s talent.  That being said, I think Korver is being utilized properly within our offense –actually running plays for him to score rather than have him spot up for jumpers.  Bogans is a defensive juggernaut[10], Gibson can give us 8/8, and Asik is a great help side defender that provides relief for Noah and Boozer.  Our biggest weakness compered to the Lakers is if Noah or Boozer gets into foul trouble, contrary to popular belief, we don’t have much depth.  It is Asik, Thomas, and that is about it.

I hope I am wrong on this one.  I know I am making a cynical, at times unfair, assessment against the Bulls winning it all this year, but beyond the numbers and historical arguments, my gut tells me they will not get it done this year.


[1] The 97-98 Bulls completed their second three peat of the Jordan era, finishing the regular season with a 62-20 record. http://www.nba.com/bulls/history/Chicago_Bulls_History-24393-42.html?nav=ArticleList#20

[2] “Derrick Rose scored 26 points on Tuesday giving him more than 2,000 for the season. Rose is only the third player in the past 30 years to have 2,000 points and 600 assists in one season. LeBron James did that in 2009-10 and Michael Jordan did it in 1988-89.”  http://espn.go.com/nba/dailydime/_/page/dime-110413/daily-dime

[3] Would not be surprised if George Karl, Doug Collins, Nate McMillan or Gregg Popovich got the nod, all are great choices.

[4] The Bulls went the whole season without losing more than two games in a row.

[5] What up, Sam?

[6] You have to check the recent history on this one, but I think the ’95 Magic are the last bad to great team and they had Shaq –a big.  Maybe the ’97 spurs w/ Duncan –a big-, perhaps the ’02 Nets with the Kidd trade –weak eastern conference?

[7] Arguably top five.  Give me: 1.James 2. Howard 3. Rose 4. Durant 5./6. Bryant/Wade?

[8] Do not be surprised if the Magic bounce the Bulls in the second round.

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24 Responses to Why the Chicago Bulls Will NOT Win the Championship in 2011

  1. SimmonsCallMe says:

    Sounds like you’re using a little reverse psychology to keep your hopes grounded. As of today, the Bulls ARE the team to beat in the east. I do agree Miami could be a big stumbling block, especially if LBJ and Wade take their game to demigod levels, as they have done in the past, but the Bulls are a better defensive team with more all-around team unity than the Heat

    • pakastallion says:

      Perhaps a bit of reverse psychology is at play… perhaps not… what say you about the lakers though? even if they manage to make it past the heat – and assuming the lakers make it to the finals- do you see the bulls beating la in a seven game championship series? I don’t.

  2. Flying Haque says:

    for footnote 6: nash’s suns went from 29-53 in 04 to 62-20 in 05

  3. Matt D. says:

    I agree that we rely on Rose so much in late/close game situations, but Deng can get his own shot and Noah and Gibson are money on the boards and tip-in’s for second chance points. Remember the game in Miami. High intensity and our guys did not fold and that was on the road. As for Noah and Booz getting in foul trouble, you seem to think that having Asik and Thomas is not good depth. That kind of depth in the front court is actually one of our greatest strengths when facing a team like Boston, Miami or L.A. Overall your analysis is very valid, and I think our chances are good but not great.

    • pakastallion says:

      Matt,

      I hear your point on Asik and Thomas … especially Asik, it will be rare for the bulls to use up 18 fouls in a game or have the three of them in foul trouble at the same time … if all three are in foul trouble, you are right, Thomas (move gibson to the 4 play small ball or bring in scala ) is still an experienced veteran that can give us solid minutes. thank for the comment!

  4. Kelly says:

    The last bad to great team was the ’08 Celtics.

  5. Tito Tumbao says:

    Well I guess tonights win over the pacers proved that we can win under pressure!

    • pakastallion says:

      Tito,

      thanks for the comment, couple of points:

      1. if you think game one of a seven game series against the eight seed is the pressure im talking about, we just arent on the same page. having said that, im really happy we pulled it out, and Indiana is a solid team, so its a quality win towards building team confidence in the post season.

      2. im still concerned the way we won. trailing form behind for most of the game, we basically relied on Rose having a career night. dont get me wrong, thats what superstars are for, but Boozer has to give us more, his history of folding in the playoffs will haunt us if he doesnt step it up. despite going 0-9 from 3, rose was incredible and at the end it was one of those fuck this moments where he decided we werent going to lose. i’d love for him to prove me wrong, but it wont be that easy in the eastern conference finals or finals for him to do that.

      3. I underestimated Korver “clutchness” someone dropped this stat: in the fourth and overtime no one has made more threes than Korver during the regular season.

  6. John says:

    Pakiastallion all I got to say is the Bull r goin all the alway #Die Hard Bull Fan Check Ya Self Bru

  7. Roy says:

    pakastallion you’re article seems pretty biased and delusional to me. About halfway through the season I didn’t expect the Bulls to take the East and go through the playoffs like this. My money was on the Celtics, hence Rondo becoming wayyy better and their core and bench was the same as last year. Plus them being such a great god damn team, then they made that stupid trade. The Miami Heat just couldn’t convince me to believe in them, they could rarely beat any better-than-average teams and they relied so heavily on the Big 3 that when they needed their bench they were just sitting on the sidelines picking their nose and could not produce on the floor. Now here comes the Bulls; they have the #1 defensive team, the MVP in Rose who can close games regularily, an amazing post (Noah & Boozer) with good backups (Asik & Gisbon), they were the best rebounding team last year (i think) and they added Boozer to secure that title for this year too. Not to mention Coach of the Year, if any team is suited to win the title this year, it’s the Bulls. Just look at the competition left; OKC (too young and not deep enough to get past Dallas), the Heat….pfff, who actually believes they can win a championship with this roster? They don’t even play team basketball (relying on 3 players to produce 75% of the points, rebounds, assists) The only issue I see is the Mavs. They have a versatile solid team at every position, have a great bench. A new defensive mindset with Chandler, and Dirk as a go-to-guy. But if history has anything to say it’s that the Mav’s choke it absolute crunch time. My guess Bulls-Mavs in Finals….Bulls in 6, maybe 7. What do you think man?

    • pakastallion says:

      Roy,

      Thanks for the comments. I am a huge Bulls fan, and some of what I wrote a month ago could be me lowering expectations (so I don’t feel as awful if/when we get bounced.) I am not sure I agree with you on the delusional/biased parts for a number of reasons. First, not everyone had the Bulls getting out of the East. While they may have been the favorites, people were picking Boston and Miami (you said it yourself: mid way through the season you had Boston coming out of the East.) Beyond that, you pretty much touched on all the points I wrote in the article: MVP, Coach of the year, best defensive team, best rebounding team, and one of the better/ deeper benches in the league. I’m acknowledging all these great attributes of the team, but still am hesitant to pick ‘em to win it all.

      I also concede that I am and have been, very high on Miami and LA (looks like I was def wrong on the latter) the whole season. I felt strongly that Miami would be able to get past the Celtics (w/ or w/o Perk – though ill admit my prediction looked a lot better after the questionable trade) even considering the 3 players generating nearly 80 percent of the teams output. I also factored in the “PG leading us to a championship,” argument and what an anomaly it has been in recent NBA history. Finally, I really do buy the argument that experience helps teams in the playoffs. Prior to this playoff run, our core hadn’t won a playoff series (another reason I wasnt high on OKC winning it all even after the Perk trade) … I know people may dismiss this, but I do think teams learn form their failures. Its in that failure they foment the trust, skill, and drive needed to win an NBA Championship.

      To your question:

      If we can get past the Heat (which I still think is a huge IF -i think the Heat will take this series in 6- hopefully i’m wrong), I see us playing the Mavs (have them in 6 over OKC). I’ll save a break down for if and when that happens, but I think we have the individual AND collective defensive pieces to check/contain (not stop) Dirk. I like our chances BECAUSE games 6 and 7 would be in Chicago and I’d be comfortable with saying that series would go at least 6/7 AND if it went 6/7, I could see us, with our great home crowd pull it out.) If it is the Heat/Mavs, I’ll go Miami over Dallas in 6 – at first blush, I think the Heat, like the Bulls and Blazers, have defensive pieces to limit Dirk, and considering how exceptional Miami and Chicago are at defense, I think the Mavs will be in trouble (especially when those jumpers stop falling.) Also, unlike the Bulls (who really have one legitimate closer and a great late game shooter in Korver -who is a def Liability), Miami can rely on Wade or LeBron to pull games out when need be. Your thoughts?

      Thanks for the comments and input!

      • Roy says:

        You make some really good points. Sorry for saying you were delusional and biased I was kind of angry at the start of my comment :P. I have a point to make that supports yours. Look at the 07/08 Celtics. They had an inexperienced PG in Rondo (At the time at least now he’s amazing), and they brought in KG and Ray Allen. I know that core of PP, KG, and RA was really old and experienced but it was only their first year together and look at what they accomplished. I am not positive on these number but weren’t they the best team in the league with the #1 defense and 66 wins? Experience pretty much triumphs athleticism 80% of the time. The finals the past four years: 08 (Lakers & Celtics) Both old team with key players having 10+ years on them. Same with 09 (Lakers & Magic) But the Magic got thumped because of the Lakers smarts. 10 (Lakers & Celtics) Two years older but still provides a hell of a series, I had no clue both those teams would make it to the Finals I thought their age would start to wear on them. I guess it had though if you look at the playoffs this year. What disappoints me though is the Celtics loss to the Heat, they obviously weren’t 100% healthy but if they were and still had Perkins and Nate R., I would be willing to bet $100 they could beat Miami….WITHOUT homecourt advantage. Your thoughts?

      • Alex says:

        Even though i really agree wiv ya, i just want to ask few questions that bugged me during the article: You think Perkins is a difference maker (not as LBJ can be by taking the ball and win a game)? Dont you think he is over rated as a defender or as a basketball player (sure he won a ring but that doesn define a player)? Because (in my own opinion) we can only discuss perkins as defensive player (im including def and off rebounds) because has little or no offense…
        Cheers Pal

      • pakastallion says:

        @ Roy & Alex

        Thanks for the comments. I guess I can address Alex’s point and hit yours as well Roy. Alex, I agree that Perkins is an overrated basketball player (depending on who’s rating), and that the bulk of his contribution comes on the defensive end (although, dude can set a mean pick -usually illegal but mean). But in a league lacking bigs, to have a banger like Perkins does give teams size. Even when he isnt rebounding the ball, he is clearing space or occupying a defender or two who is trying to rebound the ball. But, Im not willing to argue, like many have, that he is a more talented basketball player than Jeff Greene.

        However, I will say it depends on how you look at KP because he did have special value to the Celtics, value that was unique to that team. It is no secret the C’s squad was a tight nit group predicated on “ubuntu.” Moreover, they lost an edge, a chemistry edge they had over Miami when they let a central piece of that “team unity concept” go mid-season and brought in new players. It is one thing to get rid of a player (that alone will effect team chemistry), but to bring in new guys… it’s going to have an adverse effect on team chemistry because even if you like the dude you brought in, there is a period of time where trust must be built – case in point Lebron and Wade said it took them till December to call each other out on the court, and to trust one another in games (and those two are best friends). Watching the C’s it always looked like Greene didnt belong, or he didnt feel like he belonged.

        Having said that, and this addresses your comment, Roy:

        W or W/O Perk, my gut AND the C’s age made it hard for me to believe they’d beat Miami in a 7 game series (to be fair, I have been calling the C’s out saying they are done ever since the year after they won the championship and I have been wrong every year except this one). I could see that series going to 7 (couldnt see Celtics ending it in 6 or less-especially w/o home-court) if Rondo was healthy and Perk was still on the team, but even in a game seven, I just don’t think the Celtics would have an answer for LBJ or Wade if they went off in the last 5 minutes of a game, and that is what we saw in game five.

        Long story short, it’s really a tough “IF” when it comes to Perkins because he is one of those unique players who’s value was maximized in a specific role on a specific team.

      • FromMontanaToCrabtree says:

        Hey Alex,

        Thanks for checking out the blog and offering your insight – we appreciate it! More b-ball articles to follow. I think you’re right, I love Perkins’ toughness and physicality, but I think we’re beginning to see exactly what type of player he is absent his running mate Kevin Garnett. I think Perkins’ utility diminishes dramatically where no traditional post-up center/PF plays meaningful minutes opposite him, and I think Tyson Chandler is living proof of that.

  8. Knucklebiter says:

    lets digress for a second, rather than talk about why the bulls can’t win, what do you think the bulls need to win? watching the bulls defense, minus the lapse at the end of the second game they have been completely dominant, shooting fluctuates from game to game, especially when for example, they are shot Rose can normally make.. defense is a constant, and Miami are still yet to adjust to Chicago’s stifling defense… and let’s face it miami clearly don’t have the outside game to create cracks in it..

    • pakastallion says:

      Knuckles,

      Thanks for the question. Simply: LeBron, Melo, or Joe Johnson. Since that isn’t going to happen, I think we can win with the pieces we have, but everyone is going to have to elevate their game. I gave up hope (and will continue to expect very little) from Boozer. If he can just give us a solid 10/10 a game with some solid man defense (something he also struggles with) i’ll be happy with him. Despite what most say, I don’t think we are in “dire” need of a shooting guard (though i think Ray Allan would be a nice fit if we can get him on the cheap next season.) Our current three guard rotation is solid. I really think it comes down to Deng. If he can be the player I watched some years ago (when the Griz were thinking about moving him for P.Gasol) we will be fine. If he can be the “Robin” of this team and lead us offensively when Rose is off or resting we will be fine. If he can give us 20/8/4 a game, we will be fine. He along with Andre Iguodala are two of the most underrated/ better defenders in the league. While Noah is great, and our bench will only continue to get better, I think the “missing piece” is either a) Deng becoming the “number two” option on this team, leading the second unit for a stretch till Rose come back in the game, and becoming a viable option with 5 minutes left in the game OR b) Us finding that “number two” in the draft, free agency, or a trade. I like option “a” a lot better, and option “b” doesnt seem promising outside of a trade for Iguodala.

      your thoughts

      • Alex says:

        From your answer I can point out that you lost or almost lost faith in Boozer (specially in the playoffs) butyou have to realize what made him a good player and that was D-Will (at least that is what i got from watching him in utah). Yeah Booz has a 18 foot jumpshot but i dont think he is a fit for the Bulls… Chris Bosh would be better. Now, i’ll address to the “Deng” issue… Luol is one of the most under rated players in the league (more specifically on defense)… Besides D-Rose he is the only one who can get his shot and he is a hard working defender, which most teams lack. BUt your point is fair he needs to be the 20/8/4 guy… But does he really? Shouldn’t he be scoring at least 15-17 points in this series and focus on stoping (like that’s possible) Lebron? Chicago should re-focus on their identity (defense) and win games without allowing teams to reach the 95 point mark.
        Yes, Melo or AI would make a difference but altough Melo is a better scorer than AI or Deng he looks like a liability as a defender and that wouldn’t be a Tibs kind of player… Deng is alright were he is (just needs to be more consistent with his shots and not force anything) or if they gonna trade him, trade him for AI.
        For the SG matter, yes you have a solid rotation, but besides Korver who he is the other one that can shoot the ball?!? I will be (perhaps) a little biased because I am a Lakers fan, but wouldn’t Shannon Brown be a better fit than Keith B? He is a good athelete and with Tibs coaching him he could develop into a good defender. Besides if he continues to improve in his jumpshot (which is already better than Bogan’s) he could really help Chicago. And we would have more highlights than just Rose!! 🙂

        But for the record I would play Taj Gibson over Boozer everyday (in the bulls of course, because with a pure PG Booz is deadly…)

      • pakastallion says:

        I feel you on the Boozer and a pure pg (although I have always been critical of him even with DWill – numbers don’t lie he did work when healthy in Utah). Which brings me to another point … why isnt Thibs running ANY pick and rolls with Boozer and Rose… get some movement and get him the ball going to the basket or a quick spot up. We keep devoting the first quarter to “get him going” .. why not just work a couple of sets of pick and role with Booz and see what happens. I do think for this team Bosh would have been a better fit, but what are we going to do at this point.. we got a huge contract and we need to figure out how to use him better.

        You know I am big on Luol. I might be putting too much on him, but I think for us to win he has to continue to play great man D on lebron and give us 20/8/4ishh numbers – i know thats asking a lot. I also think (outside of some easy baskets), we played good D last night -95 is too many points-, but Bosh just did work. We had about 10 more boards than Miami, and hands were up contesting shots (we need to stop going for the pump fake and close out better on jump shooters).

        Brown point is interesting… im hesitant with smaller two guards, but you have a point and he has the ability to score points in bunches. I really like Taj off the bench, he gives us length and good energy… if we dont expect too much from him, I think he is one of the stronger pieces on our bench.

  9. Alex says:

    Maybe Tibs doent do a Pick n Roll with Booz because first of all he wants Rose to start going by making the first shots and then keep putting Boozer on the post (which is not is biggest strenght)… Yeah maybe I got carried away with Bosh because he is more of a perimeter player than Boozer, but for me, to play with D-Rose they need a good post up player, like Zbo or Pau… Because they dont do Pick n Roll so they need post presence to open the middle for Rose…
    And what you ask from Luol is, maybe, a perfect game during the series while guarding the 2nd best player in the league (kobe is first and I am being biased so read it as the best player). So it’s too much for almost any player so let’s hope he can pick it up.

  10. Pingback: 2011 Eastern Conference Finals Wrap up: Miami Heat v. Chicago Bulls | 25twofour

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