The Bulls have been the best team in the East, record wise, for the past two seasons.
They've gotten home-court advantage in every round of the playoffs, but so far, the No. 1 seed has gotten them nearly swept in the Eastern Conference Finals and a first-round exit.
Granted, the first-round exit has to have an asterisk by it, because the Bulls best player, Derrick Rose, injured himself in the first game of the series.
Regardless, my point is, whether trying to become the No. 1 seed once again is worth it for the Bulls or not.
On the surface, it may seem like a silly question, I mean why wouldn't you want to be the No. 1 seed? True, but it's different in the Bulls' case, because they've treated the regular season like their playoffs, while every other playoff team has treated it for what it is—the regular season and nothing more.
Granted, the NBA is not like the NFL, where once teams make the playoff, anyone can win, as we saw with the Superbowl Champion New York Giants, who didn't even make the playoffs until the final weeks of the season.
However, it's still possible to win in the playoffs being the lower seed. The Bulls have worked their behind off in every game during the regular season trying to get a win. However, head coach Tom Thibodeau, had a very short-term approach during the season. He treated the regular season like a sprint, rather than what it is—a marathon.
Now, while this previous season was an outlier due to the lockout, it can still be used to test a coach's ability to judge personnel. Tom Thibodeau routinely saw his best player, Derrick Rose, suffer injury after injury during the season, and while Rose missed quite a few games, Thibodeau still played him at times as if Rose was perfectly healthy.
However, I don't completely blame Thibodeau for this. After all, Rose is only 23, but he plays a bruising style of basketball, one that will take a toll on his body.
Thibodeau can learn a little bit from his mentor Doc Rivers, who recognized and knew his personnel. He saw that he had older players, and he would not only cut their minutes in games, but he would cut their practices shorter, cancel shootarounds and etc. Whatever it took to have them healthy by playoff time, Rivers would do.
Thibodeau, on the other hand, has sort of an "in your face" type mentality as a coach, where he doesn't let up. There's nothing wrong with this at times; however, if you constantly burden your players with that mentality, then they will become frustrated and maybe even tune you out.
Now, even if it does seem like it, I'm not trying to put all the blame on Tom Thiboduea. He's an excellent coach, and I absolutely don't want to go back to Vinny Del Negro. But let's remember, he is just a second-year head coach going into his third year. He can learn a bit too, because let's face it, nobody is perfect.
I'm sure most people will still go back to the premise that the Rose injury was just a freak thing and could have happened anytime, and your right. It's not all Thibodeau's fault. But look at the talent in the East. Boston has taken Miami to the brink of elimination, and the Celtics would have been our second-round opponent had we beaten Philadelphia.
Are you so sure that the Bulls would have easily beaten this Celtic team, with the way Kevin Garnett is playing right now?
I'm not so sure.
The Miami Heat, even though they're down to the Celtics, would have still been favored to beat the Bulls, with or without Chris Bosh. And even if Bulls somehow did get to the finals, then you have to face the OKC Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs? Forget about it, the Bulls would not and do not have the personnel to beat those teams.
In terms of next season, achieving a No. 1 seed is going to be awfully difficult because the status of when Derrick Rose is going to return is uncertain. The Bulls will also be without Luol Deng for a period of time.
But it's okay because getting a No. 1 seed shouldn't be the goal for the Bulls, it should be getting Derrick Rose and the rest of the team healthy by playoff time.
In the end, all I'm really trying to say is that there are more important things for the Bulls next season and for the next couple of seasons other than getting the first seed.
They don't need to win every regular season game. The team itself needs improvement. Derrick Rose needs more stars around him. He can't take on the Celtics, Heat, Thunder and the Spurs' big three by himself.
The Bulls need to acquire talent, rest their players, prepare right and always have the big picture in mind—the postseason. A No. 1 seed for two straight seasons has gotten us nowhere. Unless, of course your Carlos Boozer and your just satisfied with winning two straight central division titles.
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