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Well now that teams are clinching divisions and spots in the postseason I thought it would be cool to go ahead and preview each team that is going to be a part of the 2009 NBA Postseason. I will do one for each team as they clinch a playoff spot and since we already have teams that have clinched, we will start with them. For the final playoff preview, we now turn to the Chicago Bulls.
Even though the Bulls will enter the Eastern Conference as a low seed, this is top seed talent. They're as talented as any team aside from Boston and Cleveland and they have the luxury of boasting a true point guard, in addition to two very servicable centers. The Bulls bring to the table depth, a very solid inside-outside game and momentum: three things all teams wish they had on their side currently. With the midseason trade that brought in Brad Miller and John Salmons, the Bulls added a seven footer that can come off of the bench and run an offense, hit the mid range jump shot and play hard around the basket in addition to a fantastic scorer in Salmons. The two have been brought along slowly, and they didn't step on any toes when they came in, instead they seamlessly transitioned into Chicago's style of play and there was no learning period or tough stretch for the players to get acquainted with eachother. Vinny Del Negro handed it well.
When the Bulls brought Salmons and Miller along, they added them to a team that can really put points on the board. Ben Gordon is among the best scorers in the league, and runaway rookie of the year Derrick Rose really holds down stability at the point guard position, and for tough stretches he can be spelled by a very capable backup in Kirk Hinrich. One thing the Bulls really do well is score the basketball. They're in the top ten in points scored per game and they're great at moving the ball around and finding the open shot. Another thing the Bulls bring to the table, is their incredible play at home. Teams are going to be hard pressed to steal victories in Chicago, considering the Bulls recent stretch at home, and that puts pressure on the opposition to win at home. The Bulls are lucky because they can play with no pressure at all, they have no expectations. That's a big reason why this unit has played together and why they are a dangerous squad.
For one, chemistry may be a problem in the postseason. Vinny Del Negro has went to a short rotation for a majority of the second half of the season, getting the team ready for minutes distribution in the postseason, but this is a squad that hasn't played together but for about 30 or so games. When they're faced with adversity, you can't really predict how they're going to respond. In addition to mental problems for the Bulls, their lack of time together makes for a lack of experience in critical spots. The Bulls have responded well as of late and went on an impressive stretch just to make the postseason. That's indisputable. However, when you're facing a championship contender and certain situations call for certain responses, this isn't a truly battle tested squad. Therefore, they'll be unpredictable in critical spots of some games.
Furthermore, even though it's weird to say this since they have two legitimate centers, the Bulls are relatively undersized. Tyrus Thomas and Ben Gordon still lacks the size to make a difference defensively against elite players at their respective positions. As a result of Luol Deng's injury, Gordon and Salmons have been in the starting lineup together, and that makes for a very small frontcourt with essentially a three guard lineup. As a result, the Bulls are in the bottom 10 in points allowed per game. Chicago, as another result of their lack of size, are a team that has an overreliance on its jump shot. Brad Miller, Ben Gordon, Tim Thomas, John Salmons, Kirk Hinrich; these aren't players that are going to take it to the rim and get to the foul line very often. Rose and Tyrus Thomas are probably their best slashers and finishers at the rim, and it's not yet been determined if either of them will take the big shot in the postseason.
Why They Will Win It
The Bulls are riding a hot wave of emotion at the moment and that makes them a scary squad. They're deep, they've been playing playoff style basketball for an extended period of time and they can really shoot the basketball. At home, the Bulls are a beast and that will prove to be a tough test for any team that they match up against in the first round. They seem to really have fun out there when they're playing basketball, and that's something that you really can't teach or create on a team. It's something that just has to be there and cohesiveness is essential for any team hoping to make a run in the postseason. They're a team currently on the rise and they're a team playing some of the best basketball in the league.
Why They Won't Win It
The Bulls are basically a jump shooting team. When you rely so much on the jumpshot, it can come back to haunt you in critical situations and that's cause for concern in Chicago. Furthermore, their two best slashers, Derrick Rose and Tyrus Thomas, aren't spectacular foul shooters, shooting 79 and 78 percent respectively from the line. Vinny Del Negro is in his first season as a coach at any level, in any position in the NBA. How he will respond to tough situations has yet to be determined as well, and teams that lack experience usually can turn to an experienced coach for guidance in the postseason. However, this Bulls team can't do that and that can do them in in the postseason.
Top to bottom, this is a really talented team. In terms of players that they put out on the court, they can easily compete with anybody and give anyone a very tough series. Depending on the matchup, the Bulls could shock a lot of people and steal a series victory from a championship contender. However, it's not safe to bet on teams that shoot too many jump shots in the playoffs. Also, they don't play defense at a respectable level (they're the only team in the bottom 11 in points allowed per game that is in the playoffs) and their coach doesn't necessarily know how to win at any position he's held. This is a talented bunch, but they seem to lack that "it" factor to carry them to a championship. It can and should be a very exciting postseason in Chicago (a nice story for a dedicated fan base), but it'd be a stretch to expect a 7th championship banner to be raised.
And that concludes the team by team 2009 Postseason Previews.