We continue our 2015 NBA playoffs series outlook with the Chicago Bulls, a team many picked to rank among the best teams in the Eastern Conference earlier in the season. Unfortunately the Bulls have experienced a string of injuries among key players Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy Jr., and Derrick Rose— who has missed a huge chunk of the season due to a torn meniscus. Latest reports have Rose returning before the first round of the playoffs, but whether or not he will be a significant factor is debatable.
If the playoffs started today, the Bulls would face the Milwaukee Bucks– a team that has surprised many under the leadership of head coach Jason Kidd.
With the early expectations set on the Bulls, do they still have a shot at advancing deep into the playoffs?
Who and what will be the key to their success?
– Team S.U. Debates
Steve Turner (Sports Unbiased Writer): Despite the Bulls rough decline lately, I believe they could go deep in the playoffs. This isn’t going to be a walk in the park for Chicago though. With rumors of Derrick Rose returning within the week, the Bulls have a great chance to advance if he comes back healthy–It’s a stretch, due to Rose’s past injuries, but it’s possible. Rose hasn’t played a game since late February and we aren’t sure how much of an impact he will make, but the Bulls are going to need to him to play the best he can for them to have a shot. Also, Pau Gasol is going be a huge factor for this teams playoff run.
Pau has a lot of playoff experience from playing with the Los Angles Lakers, and the Bulls could really benefit from his presence. Gasol is having the best season of his career and he isn’t showing any signs of stopping his rampage. Another key component for the Bulls success is their All-Star shooting guard, Jimmy Butler. Butler has shown a lot of improvement and the Bulls are going to need it to have a chance at a championship run. I don’t believe the Bulls will advance all the way to the NBA Finals, but if the team is healthy, I wouldn’t count them completely out.
Keith Rivas (Sports Unbiased Writer): Dare I say it, the Chicago Bulls need Derrick Rose to be fully functional and healthy to have any chance of making it deep into the playoffs. Great play by the likes of Jimmy Butler, Joakhim Noah, and others have helped keep Chicago in the playoff spotlight.
But some things are only good in the regular season.
In 46 games played this season, Rose has contributed an average of 18 points, five assists, and three rebounds countered only against three turnovers per contest. If Chicago doesn’t have his contributions back at full strength soon, teams like Atlanta, Cleveland, or even a dark horse like Milwaukee will take full advantage of the Bulls being dealt the weakest link.
While it is the Eastern Conference that the Bulls find themselves in, the playoffs are always testy no matter who makes them. Without Rose, they have no leadership in the locker room, no major help offensively, and no face to the franchise despite a bench and other starters pitching in like no tomorrow.
In the end, the formula for the future remains the same. Without their super star, this year’s playoffs for Chicago will be far from a bed of roses.
Bobby Bourhis (NBA Contributor, If I Were a GM- Personal Blog): The Bulls are still my favorite to make it to the NBA Finals in the Eastern Conference. Sure, they have dealt with a lot of injuries over the last two months of the season, but they are going to be healthy once the playoffs start. Derrick Rose is scheduled to come back before the regular season is over, and Jimmy Butler has already been back for a handful of games. But the key to a deep playoff run for the Bulls is going to be their frontcourt.
Pau Gasol has emerged as their best player this season, and should be relied upon heavily in the playoffs. Joakim Noah is the glue guy, who anchors their defense and keeps the ball moving on offense. Additionally, Taj Gibson, who has been banged up a little bit this season, and Nikola Mirotic are going to be key off the bench. If these four players are all clicking then the Bulls can make a serious run in the playoffs this season.
Sauping R. Arguello (NBA Contributor): The Chicago Bulls are still one of the favorites to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals or even as far as the Finals. The main key to accomplishing that feat will be HEALTH. Derrick Rose is on his way back from yet another knee injury and it is still uncertain if he can stay healthy. Most improved player of the year candidate/All-Star Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah, Mike Dunleavy and Taj Gibson have all missed significant time throughout the season.
It is vital that they have all their players ready by the time the playoffs begin. Rookie of the year candidate Nikola Mirotic has gotten the chance to develop and gain confidence while other players have been out. All-Star Pau Gasol has been a perfect fit with a team that needed an interior, offensive presence. Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Brooks have been solid while filling in for Rose. When it’s all said and done, I’m still taking the Bulls to come out of the east (if healthy).
Jr. Williams (NBA Editor): I’m standing by my original pick of the Chicago Bulls coming out of the East in route to the NBA Finals, however, Derrick Rose will play a significant role in their quest for an NBA title as he will either make or break this team during the playoffs. If Rose can facilitate the basketball and avoid putting extensive pressure on himself offensively, the Bulls will find success, but if he reverts back to his old ways of forcing the issue and driving to the basket with reckless abandon, his teammates will suffer. Pau Gasol, Jimmy Butler, and Mike Dunleavy Jr. can help spread the floor and put points on the board which makes the Bulls an even deadlier team this postseason.
I’m not saying Derrick Rose shouldn’t be aggressive, however, he may want to alter his game for the sake of longevity, as he could be one injury away from potential trade talk. Don’t get me wrong, the Bulls have the talent and personnel right now to advance to the second round of the playoffs, but that’s as far as they go without their star player.