So in the end, the Chicago Bulls proved to be a bit shy of a champion. By the time the ignominious final minutes of Game 5 ticked away, I’d lost faith that they would win a title; they weren’t diverse enough in offensive weapons or game plans. They looked like a team whose recent playoff track record consisted only of two first round losses. 62-20, top ranking in Defensive Efficiency, they still looked like a work in progress, which they are.
There were glaring coaching errors. For instance, in the final fifteen seconds, when it was highly likely that the team would need a three point shot, why were Taj Gibson and Kurt Thomas on the floor? It allowed Miami to do what other teams did them down at final shot time in the regular season, play defense five on three. There was a general lack of creativity in personnel usage. Also good young players had their flaws exposed: Joakim Noah needs to spend this summer working on post moves and finishing near the hoop. His game is good enough to anchor two NCAA title teams and lead a team to the best record in the NBA, but it needs more polish before he can hoist the ultimate trophy. And of course the roster needs more offense. I wasn’t convinced that Courtney Lee was the solution at the trade deadline and I’m not convinced now. J.R. Smith or Vince Carter? Yeah, that’s the right line of thought.
Initially, I thought this Bulls team would remind me of the 2005 Chicago White Sox, a great team that snuck up on everyone and via rock solid run prevention won a title. Instead, they remind of another Chicago team, one that honorably came close, but lacked enough offense to win it all, the 1984 Chicago Bears. The Bears added the offense the following season and became not just a champion but a legendary one. With a good offseason, the 2011-2012 Bulls could become champions, but I doubt they’ll make a rap record about it at midseason.