The Bulls can still win the East
When Derrick Rose got hurt on Saturday, a collective gasp was let out across the world as basketball fans on all corners of the earth recognized what just happened.
Rose, the reigning MVP and leader of the Chicago Bulls, was gone for the rest of the playoffs and much of next season with an ACL injury. Chicago is the number one seed in the East and many had picked them to advance to The Finals.
I’m here to tell you that Chicago can still win the East. I’m not saying it’s probable, I’m saying it’s possible.
The Bulls are deep at point guard and C.J. Watson has proved that he is capable of leading Chicago in Rose’s absence. Watson started 25 games this season while Rose was hurt, averaging 11.3 points and 4.6 assists. In perhaps his biggest moment of the season, Watson drilled a game tying three with 2.2 seconds left in the game against Miami. The Bulls went on to win the game. (see video above)
Even the Bulls backup, backup point guard, John Lucas III, is capable of playing some quality minutes. Even if LeBron put him on a poster, tore that poster off the wall, and then re-applied the poster with some Gorilla Glue, I think Lucas III can still play. (see video here)
The Bull’s best assets as of now are their bench and their coach. Tom Thibodeau led Chicago to the best record in the east with D Rose out for 25 games of a shortened season. That’s impressive, I think he should be Coach of the Year. Thibodeau is a no nonsense coach who knows what to do in just about every situation.
Also, the Bulls’ bench, or the “Bench Mob” as they are affectionately referred to in Chicago, are a serious group of dudes. They don’t mess around and when they see their minutes, they make the most of them. The Bench Mob consists of Taj Gibson, Omar Asik, Kyle Korver, John Lucas III and Ronnie Brewer. That is a quality group of players.
The Mob brings a “balls to the wall” mentality to the Bulls, when they come in, they wreak havoc.
Korver is always a threat to drill a three and Gibson is a big ball of momentum waiting to explode. (see this dunk he crammed down on Wade in the playoffs last year)
Also, Rip Hamilton, or “The Accessorized Assassin,” as I like to call him, has a lot more responsibility since Rose got hurt. Rip is capable of scoring a lot of points, but he needs to stay healthy. He had 19 points in game 1 against the 76ers with Rose on the floor. Now, without Rose on the floor, I think Rip needs to average about 25 points a game. Watson is more than capable of dishing out assists, and Rip needs to be ready to shoot.
If both the Bulls and the Celtics win their first round series, which I think they will, Boston and Chicago would face off against each other. I think Chicago is capable of beating Boston without Rose. The Bulls have the size and shooting to do it, but it just depends on if Watson and Lucas III can contain Rondo.
If Chicago gets past Boston, the Bulls would play the Heat. The Bulls beat the Heat, with a very subdued Rose, on April 12. I think that in the perfect storm, Chicago could defeat the Heat to advance to The Finals.
Obviously, beating the Heat would be a very difficult task. Deng would have to contain LeBron and someone would have to stop Wade. Although, Boozer and Noah can take care of Bosh and Anthony with ease. A lot also falls on the shoulders of Boozer, he needs to step up and earn his money.
The Bulls should not feel discouraged or defeated. They can still win the East. The Bench Mob will feed off of the “us against the world” mentality that comes along with losing a star player.
However, whichever team comes out of the East will not win the Championship. It belongs to the West this year. I can’t decide who yet, but either the Spurs, Lakers, or Thunder will win this year.
If I had to bet right now, I’d take the Lakers. If Bynum and Pau can play like they did in game one against Denver, there’s no way they can be beaten. Kobe was quoted today in an interview with ESPN saying that he likes the Laker’s chances to win it all, and I’d have to agree.