Around the NBA: Chicago Bulls - 02/25/11
|Nick has named the Bulls the 2010-11 Born to Run Award winners|
See the Bucks take on the Bulls at the Bradley Center... February 26 | March 26
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It is my pleasure to announce the Chicago Bulls as the 2010-2011 recipients of the Born to Run (or BTR, since acronyms are branded into the identity of America) Award. I'm willing to accept the award on their behalf for a nominal fee.
The award takes its name from the Bruce Springsteen Album which was the make-or-break record in the career of Springsteen and the E Street Band. The album was the band's third, and although "Greetings From Ashbury Park, N.J." and "The Wild, the Innocent, & the E Street Shuffle" were fun, solid albums. Neither were the compilation of a legend.
Then "Born to Run" was released. National adoration poured out and the spotlight was permanently affixed on the band. No longer the collection of wayward musicians playing random bars on the Jersey Shore, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played to large arenas. Their meals were now served at the adult table of the music industry.
Similarly, the Bulls are eating fat now as the breakout team in the NBA this season.
Coming into the year, speculation and prognostication had the Bulls as a five seed in the Eastern Conference. The team had two straight first-round playoff exits, and were coming close to being labeled another Hawks of Atlanta, or just another band out of Boston, on the road to try to make ends meet.
Sure, there was Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng, but that was hardly a big three to stack up against Boston, Miami, or even Orlando.
Free agency's Plan B for the franchise allowed the 1901 W. Madison Chapter of the Utah Jazz Alumni Association to form. An honest-to-goodness head coach who preaches team defense (no comment on the previous regime) in Tom Thibodeau added up to the team's best record at the All-Star Break since the Jordan Years.
The Bulls have arrived on the main stage, but there isn't one landmark win that stands out. Home defeats of the Lakers, Celtics, Heat, Magic, and Spurs, among others were individual wake-up calls to the rest of the league, but the overall body of work speaks more to the greatness than one game. Who can decide between "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" and "Thunder Road?"
The success has come without the post-duo of Noah and Carlos Boozer logging a lot of minutes as a pairing. Boozer's hand injury at the beginning of the season and Noah's in midseason is the reason the two only played eight games together. The change was made uptown and the big men should join the band for the rest of the season.
The loss of Boozer early on and Noah more recently might not have been glaring because Rose took his game to another level this season. He rightfully deserves MVP consideration by keeping the team more than competitive with the two missing games.
Rose's ascent to the league's top point guard remains the biggest reason the Bulls can make the conference finals. The team won't be sneaking up on anyone because the Bulls have picked-off all the elite teams at home, but I'm not willing to name them the probable heirs to represent the Eastern Conference just yet. The grind of the playoffs is new to most of the team, especially Rose, who has not made it out of the first round in either of his first two seasons. Boozer has shown that he isn't the most durable player with his injury history and the Keith Bogans/Kyle Korver combo at shooting guard is reason to make the basketball astute weary. It's high time for a balancing act as the team should try to pace themselves as the season moves into its final games to get the most out of Rose, yet work towards a number two seed. Thibodeau's time on Boston's bench as an assistant will come in handy as he tries to steal minutes for all the players, including Rose. Rose sat out a majority of the second quarter against San Antonio last Thursday and ended up with a career-best 42 points.
It is rightfully worrisome that Rose's Bulls have not made a serious run in the playoffs yet, but wins in games with playoff like atmospheres should assuage some of the doubt in the early rounds. Getting down to brass tacks, conventional wisdom has Miami or Boston as the two super powers of the East, but the Bulls have such a devotion to defense, team defense, (side note: I'll chalk up the Toronto loss to an All-Star Break adjustment problem) that they can stay in a series with either of the two, especially with both Noah and Boozer healthy. Now the finished product is on display. The depth with Omer Asik and Kurt Thomas playing formidable minutes in the post to go along with Noah or Boozer can go up against Boston's depth at the same positions. That same size will give Miami match up problems. The Bulls have arrived as one of the three elite teams (Orlando is still trying to find an identity at this point) of the Eastern Conference. It will be entertaining to watch the team chase the runaway American Dream of the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
Note: These are the views of the 6th Fan Blogger. Thoughts and opinions expressed in this articles are not necessarily the views of the Milwaukee Bucks.