The Chicago Bulls have the reigning National Basketball Association’s Most Valuable Player for the 2010-2011 season in Derrick Rose, who surprised many in attaining the NBA’s best record at 62-20 with first-year head coach Tom Thibodeau. The Chicago Bulls earned this record by playing relentless defense the entire season, never taking a game off, allowing opponents to shoot 43%, the lowest of any team in the NBA.
But now that the NBA Finals are about to begin, the Chicago Bulls will not be there, as they were defeated 4-1 by the Miami Heat. Derrick Rose, Tom Thibodeau, and the Chicago Bulls instantly remind me of another team that had the best record in the league, coach of the year and MVP. In 2008-2009, MVP LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers led the NBA in fewest points allowed, with 91.4 a game, and their relentless defense never took a night off, leading them to a 66-16 regular season record. It wasn’t until the playoffs, however, that their lack of offense was exposed, as they were defeated in the Eastern Conference Finals by the Orlando Magic.
I have no doubt in my mind that the Chicago Bulls will play the same tough defense next season as they did this season, but the way they were dismantled by the Miami Heat in the playoffs may play a factor in how well they perform in the 2011-2012 season. They also have a flawed roster that was exposed during the playoffs.
The Chicago Bulls have a huge hole at the shoot guard position with Keith Bogans, who averaged 4.4 points per game during the regular season and 5.1 points per game during the playoffs, is simply not good enough to start on a championship team. Bogans scored in double figures in only 2 of 16 playoff games the Bulls played. His lack of offense puts more pressure on Derrick Rose to score from the back court.
Carlos Boozer is not a second scoring option on a championship team, but he is being paid like one, as he signed a five-year, $80-million dollar deal with the team in July 2010. This financial misstep may ultimately cost the Bulls from winning a championship in the near future. As Boozer has shown in the past, he can not finish over teams with length and shot blocking, and he finished the playoffs with a poor 5 point, 6 rebound performance in a three-point loss to the Miami Heat.
Joakim Noah needs to improve on the offensive end of the floor. He is a good defensive center, and is versatile with his ability to defend many positions, but he needs to provide more scoring punch. In 5 playoff games against the Miami Heat, Noah scored 30 total points in the series, or 6.0 per game, while shooting 32%. His confidence appeared to diminish, and, in a series where every basket is at a premium, his lack of offense was key.
The Chicago Bulls are a championship-level defensive team, led by Derrick Rose and head coach Tom Thibodeau, but it was the offense caused their demise against the Miami Heat. It will not improve unless there are roster improvements and personal growth by players on the team. Still, this may not be enough to get past the Miami Heat, who should improve as well going forward. Derrick Rose may be stuck in a situation like LeBron James was not long ago.