Chicago Bulls’ Playoff Chances Difficult To Gauge


It will be difficult to predict the Chicago Bulls’ 2015 playoff chances. With their injuries and some questionable player substitutions, they could make it all the way to the NBA Finals, or they could crash and burn and be ousted in the first round.

Chicago Bulls
Chicago Bulls /

Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls have five games remaining in the 2015 regular season before they start the playoffs. They still do not know who they will be playing, and they have their franchise players, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, on minutes restrictions due to injuries.

Trying to gauge how this team will play is very difficult. Not only are Noah and Rose dealing with injuries, so are Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson.

How those players react to the grind of the playoffs, when nearly every possession is very important, is hard to decipher. Last year, the Bulls were playing very well down the stretch, much the same way they are now, but suddenly, when the playoffs started, they looked like they were running in mud, and Noah and Gibson turned out to be nursing injuries.

Noah is actually still trying to recover from offseason surgery on the knee he was dealing with in the playoffs. Gibson is dealing with the same ankle that’s given him trouble in the past, and Rose recently had surgery on the same meniscus that cost him all but ten games last season.

The Bulls do have Pau Gasol, and he should help. He is having a career resurgence this year, but he has a lot of miles on his body, and he could very well get old in the playoffs, when the intensity is high.

The bench should be of great help to the Bulls in the playoffs, but how will the players be used? Coach Tom Thibodeau has given players like Nikola Mirotic and Tony Snell inconsistent minutes. While they got minutes because of injuries, does Thibodeau trust them? From my perspective, I don’t think he does.

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Mirotic has finally gotten some consistent minutes, but it happened only since March 1st. In the 18 games since he got into the rotation, he’s averaged 18.9 points per game, 7.6 rebounds and has a +/- of +80 when he is on the court. It’s been just a month, however. When things get intense in the playoffs, will Thibodeau go to him?

In Butler’s absence early in March, Snell started 11 games. In those games, he averaged 9.6 points per game (not bad considering he did not have any plays run for him) in 35.5 minutes per game. He also played the tough defense that Thibodeau likes so much.

Just before that stretch, on February 12th, the Bulls played the Cavaliers. In that game, Snell scored 22 points and had 3 steals while harassing LeBron James. James had 31 points, but it took him 26 shots to do it, and he was a -24 while on the floor. Snell was a +28.

What happened on Sunday when the Bulls played the Cavs again? Snell played a total of SIX minutes and scored TWO points. James recorded a triple double.

Surely there was a way Thibodeau could find more than SIX minutes for Snell, wasn’t there?

Thibodeau has complained about minutes restrictions on Noah, and now with Rose back, he will probably also have restrictions. Thibodeau found ways earlier of giving Noah and Rose minutes without having them sit out during important stretches of games, but suddenly he can’t. He better find a way to do it or the Bulls will face early elimination.

As I said, this is a team that very well could make it to the NBA Finals in a weak Eastern Conference. They would probably face the Cavs in the second round, but they could be in their heads.

On a play in which Noah fouled James hard, Blatt thought the foul should have been a flagrant foul.  He also thought that on other plays the Bulls went overboard. “I thought some of the things that happened were a little overboard. I really do,” Blatt said. “But the league will take a look at it and they’ll decide what’s right.”

The Cavs know when they play the Bulls they will be in for a tough game. The Bulls play hard for 48 minutes. They play with high intensity, and that will be higher in the playoffs. That’s not in question. What is in question is are they are healthy enough to take the grind, and whether or not Thibodeau will use his players correctly.

Next: Derrick Rose Taking Contact; Are The Bulls Getting Too Healthy?