I know it’s simply life in the NBA — just ask the Boston Celtics — but this sure is a lousy time for so many Bulls players to be banged up: John Salmons (left groin), Kirk Hinrich (sprained left ankle), Derrick Rose (bruised wrist), Tyrus Thomas (sore shoulder and flu-like symptoms) and Tim Thomas (back spasms) are all in various states of physical impairment, and Luol Deng (stress fracture) seems to be done for the season. (But seriously, are they ever gonna tell us for sure?) So of the eight guys that Vinny Del Negro seems willing to use in games that can’t be classified as a blowout — sorry, Aaron Gray — only three of them (Ben Gordon, Brad Miller and Joakim Noah) are reasonably healthy.
Anybody else feel a Bobcat breathing down their neck?
The Bulls are only 1.5 games ahead of Charlotte (and only one game up in the loss column) for the eighth and final playoff spot. That’s the “glass half empty” way of looking at it. The “glass half full” view is that they’re a mere half-game behind the seventh-place Detroit Pistons (though a full game behind in the loss column). And to further raise the stakes, the ‘Cats visit the United Center on April 11 and the Pistons play host to the Bulls on April 13.
As Kevin Garnett might say: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLLLLLLLLEEEE!!!!
The semi-good news — other than the fact that John Hollinger’s playoff odds currently give the Bulls an 87.4 percent chance of finishing in the East’s top eight — is that Salmons should be available for tomorrow’s home game against the New Jersey Nets. Said Salmons: “I like my chances. Only real way to heal groins is rest. We don’t have the luxury of that. Hopefully, with these three days, it can get a little better. Good teams overcome injuries.”
Which raises an interesting question: Are the Bulls a good team?
The answer depends on where they play. They’re 24-12 at home. That’s pretty good. Sadly, they’re 12-28 on the road, which is pretty bad. Of course, the Pistons (17-20), Heat (13-24), Sixers (16-20) and Hawks (14-23) are all iffy (at best) road teams too…but they’re all (most likely) going to the playoffs. And unlike the rest of those teams, the Bulls play five of their last six games in the Windy City.
My personal hope, and I might be setting myself up for disappiontment here, is for Chicago to finish .500. That would, in fact, require them to win five games and lose only one. But to me, that would be almost as great an accomplishment as reaching the postseason, particularly given all the injuries, player turnover, roller coaster coaching and last year’s bitterly disappointing 33-win campaign.
I mean, as a fan, you just want some hope. You have to see progress. You need to feel like the situation is improving. Winning more games, competing to make the playoffs, and the thought of going into next season with (I can only hope) a healthy Luol, that provides some reason for optimism, right? However, Blog-a-Bull feels that reaching the playoffs could lead to a foolish continuation of the Vinny Era, which could retard the team’s (and the players’) progress.
Fair point. Vinny doesnt’ seem to have “it,” with “it” being (seemingly) the ability to relate with players and make in-game or even game-to-game adjustments. Would it have been in the Bulls’ — and therefore the fans’ — best long-term interest to have done a little more losing so that Jerry Reinsdorf and John Paxson would have been forced to go in another coaching direction?
Maybe. Unfortunately, as a fan, I don’t have any control over the length of Vinny’s tenure, or for that matter over Lovie Smith’s insistence on stubbornly refusing to abandon the Cover 2 Defense (which kept the Bears out of the playoffs last season, by the way). So all I can do is enjoy the ride and hope my car doesn’t go flying off the roller coaster.