They are the walking wounded. They are the team that everyone discounted, and yet here they are now, making an appearance in the second round of the NBA Playoffs, and they are all set to prove that they are more than just a scrappy bunch of underdogs who are ultimately doomed to fail. The Chicago Bulls headed into this season knowing full well that they would be without the services of their star point guard Derrick Rose for an indefinite period of time. It was a devastating blow to a team that had come to rely on the otherworldly athleticism of the young guard, but there’s no quit in these Bulls. The lack of a star guard wasn’t going to keep them from competing, and they played like proud men should all throughout the entire regular season.
There was one thing that was being made abundantly clear about this incarnation of the Chicago Bulls, and that was the fact that there just isn’t any amount of quit in them. The Bulls overachieved during the regular season, and they managed to do by utilizing the talents of star big man Joakim Noah and do-it-all forward Luol Deng. Along with the team’s primary contributors was a whole host of role players who performed very well in their respective roles. Jimmy Butler was an unheralded player when he first entered the league but he emerged this season as a highly capable role player who could hit outside shots and defend perimeter players. Nate Robinson is another role player for the Bulls, and he has thrived in his role as the highly potent scorer in the Chicago backcourt. As instrumental as the players have been to the team overachieving this year, the work of Coach Tom Thibodeau should also be duly recognized. All throughout the year, Coach Thibodeau has kept the team focused on the goal of winning as much games as they can without allowing them to dwell on the pieces that they are missing. Armed with a strong defensive philosophy and the grittiest bunch of players in the NBA, the Bulls crashed the Playoffs as the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference, and they have made it clear that simply making it there is just phase one of the plan.
Heading into their first round engagement with the Brooklyn Nets, the Bulls were labeled almost immediately as the underdogs in that series. They were criticized for a lack of scoring punch, and the consensus was that they were just going to end up bowing to the Nets. The Bulls did not want to follow that plan however, as they proceeded to eliminate the Nets after seven hard fought games, and in the process, they managed to earn a second round date with the defending champs. The Miami Heat are now firmly in the crosshairs of the Bulls, and they will continue to put up a good fight. If the first game of the series is any indication, this Bulls team isn’t about to start learning about quitting now.
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