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Relax Bulls fans, it's not that bad…
by Sam Smith
Posted on Jan 8
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or their Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.
Bulls fans have been angry.
Like an old man returning soup at a deli.
Andrew asked, “What is the willingness to fire Vinny…this team is a disaster.” Brian said it’s OK to let LeBron get a triple double, but “How does Varejao get 26 against us?” Bill emailed about the Minnesota loss and said all could be lost. “Would anyone start for a team over .500?” Bill wondered.
By the way, that’s my favorite line from Seinfeld, the show about yadda, yadda, yadda.
Anyway, my response is, “So what’s the matter?”
The Bulls are 15-20 heading into games Friday and Saturday against the Wizards and Thunder. As the Bulls showed last week against Minnesota, no game is an easy game when you are a sub-.500 team. Winning teams like the Celtics whine about getting everyone’s toughest game. That’s not true. Maybe against the Lakers or Cavs or Magic.
But teams like the Bulls get the toughest games of the Wizards, Thunder, Timberwolves and Kings.
Those teams pretty much know they aren’t going to beat the Celtics or Lakers. But they figure they have a shot against the sub-.500 teams like the Bulls to get their few wins. So the Bulls get their best effort, as they will from the Wizards and Thunder.
But for all the angst thus far this season about losses to teams like Minnesota, Memphis and Charlotte and blowout losses to Boston, Cleveland, Portland and Orlando, the Bulls really are pretty much where they were expected to be, and still with a decent shot at making the playoffs.
At 15-20, the Bulls are on a 35-win pace.
And that’s with a schedule thus far top heavy against winning teams and with the third most road games in the Eastern Conference.
How many picked the Bulls to win that many more than 35? Who had their hand up for 50 wins? What are we talking about here?
I thought they could get close to 40, maybe 38, which could make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference or come down to the last few games to decide that spot. Atlanta was in last season at 37 games, and took the Celtics to seven games.
And it would seem the Bulls might have some edge on a better second half.
They’ve had three of their top six or seven players in Drew Gooden, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich out injured for a combined total of 48 games already. Deng is questionable for Friday, though should return relatively soon. Hinrich should be back in a few weeks. Their return along with Gooden’s should give the Bulls depth and some fresh legs for the second half of the season.
The Bulls starting Friday play seven of their next nine games at home before leaving on their long Western Conference trip.
But the Bulls finish the season with eight of their last 11 games at home, the majority against teams currently with losing records.
So despite injuries, a new untried coach, and a rookie point guard, it would seem at 15-20, the Bulls probably are about where they should be and with a chance to make progress from last year’s 33-win season.
Everyone would like to see more. But did you really expect this team now to be, say, 20-15?
There. Now don’t you feel at least a little bit better? And a little ashamed you were so upset? You shouldn’t have to be a marine biologist to figure that one out.
Meanwhile, Derrick Rose’s chances of being voted to the All-Star team or picked as a reserve by the coaches slipped some more in the final returns announced Thursday. The starters will be named next Thursday on the TNT broadcast, which includes the Bulls hosting the Cavs.
Rose is eighth among East guards with 293,483 votes, about 96,000 votes behind Milwaukee’s Luke Ridnour. It seems about certain now that Dwyane Wade and Allen Iverson will start at guard for the East with Dwight Howard at center. LeBron James is first among Eastern Conference forwards followed by Kevin Garnett, who is only about 60,000 votes ahead of New Jersey’s Yi Jianlian with each having more than 1.2 million votes. If Yi gets voted in due to the usually strong voting from China, it will leave off a much more deserving player when the coaches add the seven reserves.
Likewise, in the Western Conference, Tracy McGrady remains second among West guards behind Kobe Bryant despite hardly having an All-Star season. McGrady leads Chris Paul by about 150,000 votes. Yao is the West leader at center over Shaquille O’Neal, who likely will be added by the coaches. There’s a close race at forward in the West with Tim Duncan leading easily, but Carmelo Anthony only about 10,000 votes ahead of Amar’e Stoudemire. Anthony is now out injured and could easily be passed by Stoudemire for the starting spot.
Rose does have the most votes among the rookies on the ballot and in the top 10 at their position, ahead of Greg Oden and Michael Beasley.