Bulls look like a 55 win team [schedule analysis part 2]

This Bulls team has been winning some ugly games.  Games where they haven't particularly played well.  Games they could have possibly lost, but games they've largely ended up winning.

They performed well without Carlos Boozer to open the season, and they're accumulating wins so far without Joakim Noah.   There are times we want more, pretty much all the time that is, and we definitely want to see the Bulls perform better against the best teams in the league.

However, the Bulls have only played two games against the best when healthy, and they were 2-2.  Of those four, the two losses were Boozer's first two games in a Bulls uniform (preseason or otherwise) after returning from an injury which stretches the definition of health.

At best you can take some positives from the Bulls home wins over the Lakers and Thunder, and at worst you should give them an incomplete for falling to tough teams while missing one of their premier players. 

However, ignoring the Bulls record against the best teams in the NBA for a moment, let's look at their record against everyone else.   I broke down the Bulls record awhile ago here.   Since that point, the Bulls suffered their first loss to a poor team (Clippers), one loss to a good team (Knicks), and picked up five more wins against bad teams.

That puts them at 4-9 against good teams, 5-0 against average teams (Houston climbed into average), and 11-1 against bad teams.

Looking at the rest of the schedule, and hoping that I do my math pretty well, the Bulls are set for a pretty sweet run.   Of their remaining 52 games, the Bulls schedule breaks down like this:

33 games against teams with losing records.  Of those, 27 of them are games where the opponent is really sub par, 6 of them are teams which are at least within a stones throw of .500.

1 game against a team that is .500.

18 games against teams above .500 (these teams are generally quite a bit above .500 right now as the league has become a haves and have nots type of league with a bunch of really bad teams and around a dozen good teams).

If you look at the Bulls general percentages, they're presently 16-1 against the teams that make up 34 of their remaining 52 games.  I'll assume that they can't maintain that pace the rest of the season (if so they'd be 32-2 over those games), but we'll say they do a fairly close proximity to it and go 29-5. 

The Bulls are presently 4-9 against the type of competition they play in the other games, which I think they'll improve upon down the stretch, but let's say they just perform similarly o that level.  They'll go 6-12 against those teams.

That puts the Bulls at 35-17 over the final 52 games and gives them 55 wins on the season. 

Looking at what the Bulls have done so far with the injuries they've had, this simply doesn't feel unrealistic to me.   I think they can play better than 6-12 against the good teams quite frankly, and while 29-5 is going to be awfully tough against the other squads, it's already toned down considerably relative to the percentage they're actually beating those teams at now.

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  • REALITY CHECK:

    The Bulls can win 55 games, but who cares if they can't beat Boston, Orlando or Miami?

    January is a big month for the Bulls.

    They play Boston, Miami, Orlando and Dallas at home. Pretenders or contenders? We'll see.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Agree that January is an exciting Month... but I must temper it some. Bulls are missing an absolutely key cog in Noah. We have to be careful to not already start making excuses, but again, I don't think we can get a good feel for our team's potential without him on the court. He will be back for the playoffs - the ultimate test for this year.

    I feel similarly if we were to play one of those teams when they were temporarily short one of their key players. Sure, winning would feel good, but wouldn't prove anything in my mind.

    The only caveat is if a player goes down with a season ending injury, for either the Bulls or the other team, then the game would be a valid test of the two teams.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    No, April May & June are big months for them. They will beat Boston, Orlando, &/or Miami when they are ready for the bright lights of the playoffs.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    ChiRy,

    Slow down.

    The Bulls have to prove they can beat the top teams in January. If they can't, then they sure as hell aren't going to beat them when the playoffs come in the spring.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    look, no one cares or remembers who you beat in January. All they have to do is keep their current pace, improve as they go along as a team, then its all about the playoffs. No one cares about January, and who says they can't beat them in the playoffs if they don't in January? I don't buy that sir. Plus, its not like the whole month is laced with great playoff teams, its pretty much just 1 game each against Boston, Orlando, & Miami, then a bunch of scrubs.

  • I am with Happy on this a little bit. But that said, they have performed exceedingly well and Miami for all its issues have had their big three healthy relatively. The Bulls haven't had their big three/four all healthy at the same time. If Korver, Watson, Taj is hurt it is a different story. But when you lose Noah or Boozer, it says a lot about the coaching, resolve of this team.

    But again, I am surprised at their losses to Boston. I thought we match up well with Boston...so I am not too worried against them in the Playoffs. Miami and Orlando are the dangers to the Bulls. The Bulls somehow need to find good match-ups against these team(I am not sure yet about Miami). Otherwise, it will be like Cleveland with LBJ making counter-moves against Orlando, Lakers and muddying up the team.

  • wid garnet down, I think now we can take on the boston. I mean da pistons beat them! hahahahah. WE will be the #3 seed now! yaaaa!

  • I could care less about how we stack up against inferior opponents ( we're suppose to win those games ... and we did that without Boozer). It's the competition that we'll most likely face in he playoffs that should concern us. At the rate that we're going we'll see a first round exit like last year and then all the achievements by D. Rose would be for not. Bottom line: we need a second consistent scorer ( an upgrade in the SG position ).

  • In reply to TommyChamp:

    Hollinger looked at this question a while back when the Heat had beaten up a series of bad teams but lost close games to the good teams. His conclusion was that historically blowing out teams, even if they are bad, was a better predictor of playoff success than winning the close games against good teams. So I'm not really worried if we're padding the record against bad teams, there's no bonus points awarded because you beat the Celtics instead of the Kings.

    All you can really do is win as many games as you can so you get home court for as much of the playoffs as possible to give yourself the best chance you can. Anything can happen in a 7 game series, I don't share Doug's pessimism about it being basically impossible to beat two of the Celtics/Heat/Magic. They're not favourites but the East is so stacked at the top it's not like any of the other 3 would be favourites over the entire field either.

    Given the way the team planned for the off season gutting the team and then didn't get the free agents they wanted and had to go for Boozer who was like plan D or E, how much more can you really expect? The Knick fans are over the moon at going from 29 to a projected 43 or so wins, the Bulls are making the much harder 14 game improvement from 41 to 55 and people are down on the team. I don't really get it.

  • In reply to TommyChamp:

    All the regular season wins or losses mean if a team make it to the playoffs or not and if a team does make it to the post season what seed they manage to get. Let's look at the post season hopes of the Bulls carefully, the Bulls so far can't beat the Knicks, Boston, Orlando, and I doubt they can beat the Heat in a playoff series, so I see the Bulls maybe making it to the second round and that will depend on who they draw in the first round. But if they do make it to the second round that's about how far they will get and most Bulls fans will be OK with it cause some Bulls fans are starting to get like Cub fans...THAT'S OK, WE ALWAYS HAVE NEXT YEAR...sounds like settling to me for a organization that has 6 championships but has proved nothing since Jordan left.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    More like some people are starting to lose appreciation for Jordan because they think winning 6 championships is a cakewalk that a team can do standing on their head.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    and 90% of those championships are courtesy of Michael Jordan. So what do the Bulls plan to do to prove they can win one without Jordan???

  • In reply to Reese1:

    You are so right! Look at all the winning seasons Orlando and Cleveland have had--and no Championship. Why should we be so eager to settle? Who settles for a wife that is half of what you need and want? Who? Now don't think I am not happy that the Bull's are winning, I just want them to really be able to compete with the best teams--so that we have a chance at a championship. That's why I submitted here a radical trade for our Bulls and so they have a least a starting five that can defend and be offensive minded.

  • In reply to penwit1:

    Do true about not settling for 1/2 a wife and for the Bulls not making it past the 1st round, we need to expect with a healthy roster that we will win the East or at least be in the Eastern Championship series!
    It is nice if we can win 55 games this season, but like Dallas they do good during the season and not so well in the playoffs!
    With Noah coming back soon, I hope we peak at the right time and carry it into the playoffs! :-)

  • In reply to smiley:

    Yeah, your point sounds good, and it seems like your heart is in the right place, but this 'trade' you are referring to often doesn't work. For every radical midseason move that has worked, the are many that have failed. In fact, I feel like the buyer often does worse than the seller because teams feel like they have to do this urgent, radical, move. Remember, you can only make a GREAT radical move if the opposing general manager lets you.

  • In reply to smiley:

    Could the Bulls win 55? Probably. But so did Dallas and Cleveland.

    As for the bigger picture, granted they are thin down low(Haslem if he's coming back will help), but right now I have to say Miami looks tough.

    When you take the Michael(at least ability wise of his time) LeBron and pair him with Wade a guy who can get to the line and does hit the clutch shots while easily capable of dropping 30+ on you that's tough. Throw in the Riley based cheating big standing in front of the basket at all times/grabbing/clutching defense, and you have a tough opponent. Plus Bosh has been coming on, and offensively at least does look like an all-star as of late. Many games they lost even when they(Wade and Bosh) weren't playing well yet other team's/players(Jazz - Milsap 44 making three threes late), (Dallas - Jason terry 17 points in the 3rd quarter) had the game of their lives to beat them. I would not want to play them or Boston until the ECF.

    Boston if everyone is healthy is probably the only team that can beat the Heat. The Magic, I mean you just threw those guys together, and for the playoffs, and defense, I'm just not buying it. Plus Arenas has been just such a complete knucklehead. Does he now become Mr. Professional/reliable?

    Granted the Western Conf. teams to me look as weak as I've seen for some time. The Lakers look terrible right now(for the Lakers), San Antonio is playing excellent team ball/great record, but I mean come one they got blown out by nearly 20 by the new Magic. Tim in the playoffs can he get it done? And Dallas has iron on stars like Caron Butler who wash off in the playoffs.

    As for the Bulls, if we would have thought upon the pick ups of Brewer and Watson that they'd be averaging 6 and 5 ppg, and we knew that Korver(who again I was not excited about picking up) was really a no-show offensively on many nights(though I think Kyle is a good guy to have on the ballclub and he works hard on defense), but I'd say that realistically we'd be dissapointed. Fans who really follow the NBA were excited about C.J., and he's shooting 38% right now from the field.

    To me, Joakim offensively before the injury this year/in November an entire month I think he was averaging 16 plus points a game along with 14 or near rebounds. Not to mention his crucial role in moving the ball both in the half court, in starting transition, and huge impact rebounds and put backs.

    Simply, if Jo comes back with a healthy hand, and If he can get in game shape within say two and a half weeks, and that offensive repetroire with nasty spin moves, hooks, driving down the lane far hand banks, if that display was a legit/reliable arsenal then Jo to me is indeed(and was playing) like an all-star.

    In fact, beyond all-star is how I would describe Jo's game pre-injury. Granted it was only a month, but that's somewhat of a decent sample size of scoring moves you can indeed convert/count on. With his offensive game, crucial impact boards/put backs, and monster rebounds with one of the best help defenders ala Garnett of old in the game, Joakim is a second piece of a championship team in my view. That's one valuable player to lose.

    Bring back that Joakim, Derrick in playoff mode(he averaged 27ppg in his second year) with much better overall D, and Boozer and that's a tough team. You/he somehow manage to reincorporate Taj's production, and look out. If the Bulls had the one other perimeter shooter besides Kyle coming off the bench, and I'd say beware of the sleeping Lion. But they don't. Still Watson has shown in the past he can score, and Brewer has played better then he even has right now which has been solid.

    I would not completely count the Bulls out of the ECF, but it depends on if they face Miami before then. And a lot of things have to turn around/come together. But it's possible. And I think the rookie head coah Thibs has challenges to meet(as Every new leader does) offensively as a head coach, and giving his players at some point more freedom and quit the constant carping i.e. sit the f-ck down.

    To me the Bulls right now are an enigma. Will November Jo return? Will Taj get back on track, and where do his minutes come from with Booz in his spot? Can C.J. be allowed to play his game/SG and somehow turn it around? Will Thibs start acting more like winning coaches do without the constant in game child care sideline instruction and butt chewing? The answer of course: wait and see.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    Good analysis, Road. Enjoyed reading this very much.

  • In reply to KingOfCrumbs:

    Thanks. Appreciated.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    Reese - you are right that the Bulls have lost to the good teams in the east so far. Of course, how many games have they played full strength? Miami needed time to get going. Depending on when Noah hurt himself the Bulls havent played too many game with all their guys healthy...or any really. I'm looking forward to the stretch run when Noah is back and we play some of the tougher East teams again. (Hopefully Bogans is no longer starting by then too :-)

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    RW,

    Is a blog in your future? That's a lot of writing.

  • In reply to smiley:

    I've got one more thing to say. You guys are going to be worried if we trade Taj out of town and then run into Orlando. Because Dwight Howard will handle Noah like he has every single time they have played.

  • In reply to smiley:

    Hey, what's going on with McGrady in D-Town? 17 against the Bulls and now he drops 21 against the Celtics in a Pistons win? In two weeks his knees will be cashed again I suppose.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    I know I was amazed at how he put in 17 against us but then again we dis'd him by not giving him a measly contract after he begged to play for us and coming off his $22M/yr one in Houston!

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    I dont think anyone wants to just get rid of Taj. You only do that if a significant trade comes along where we upgrade the SG considerably...meaning its really doubtful. It seems some people equate the Bulls not running out and making a trade to the team waving the white flag on the season.

  • In reply to bullswin60606:

    Right now against the elite teams in the east, they may as well wave the white flag cause they haven't beaten any of them yet and those loses were either just bad blow out loses or the Bulls proved they just can't as of now get the job done down the stretch meaning Rose and Boozer don't have any help.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    So far the Bulls CANT beat the Knicks? Because they lost to them twice in the regular season they CANT beat them? So I guess the Lakers CANT beat the Heat in the championship since they lost to them on XMas. Saying a team doesn't have the ability to beat someone because they lost to them in the regular season is ridiculous.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    guru,

    If you weren't CLUELESS, you would recognize that the regular season is a barometer for the playoffs.

    It certainly doesn't look good for the Bulls given the fact that they are WINLESS against NYK, Boston and Orlando.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Happy if you actually knew a damn thing about the NBA you'd know that you cant draw absolute conclusions about playoff series by looking at the results of certain games. While the regular season is a barometer as a whole, saying that the bulls CANT beat the Knicks bc we lost to them twice is beyond ignorant. You claim you know the game, but your "knowledge" seems to be a figment of your wild imagination. I guess that explains your pathetic trade machine proposals, the NBA isn't like your fantasy basketball league mappy, do yourself a favor and wake up.

  • Many of the bad teams have to be already starting to realise their season is over and given how many of them there are it's time to tank now. If they leave it until the all-star break it might be too late. So I think 29-5 looks like a reasonable ask.

  • I think they're the most likely to win the East, but I'd still take the field. If Garnett is going to be hobbled again this year I might change my story though.

  • Depth. I thought that was obvious , though.

  • We already have a SG(s) that can compete. we do not have to dominate at each position. Just take the minutes from Bogans and give them equally to CJ, Brewer and Korver and we'll be fine. Stop adding parts to a working machine.

  • "Bogans is easily the worst starting SG in the NBA."

    I think there may be 3 or 4 starting SGs out of the Horizon League I'd take before him at this point; to say nothing about any of the power conferences.

  • Miami will be there, but I really can't wait until the playoffs when, against a good team, their weaknesses will be exposed over a 7 game series.

  • 55-60 has seemed probable all season long, but with how much we rely on Deng, I'm starting to get a bad feeling that he might be the next big player to suffer a significant injury. We really just need to stay healthy, & then I believe we can get the 2 or 3 seed.

    About shooting guard: I believe it is in the best interest to stand pat, unless you can get a difference maker, or someone falls into your lap. The Bulls simply don't have the assets this season to make a deal & recover the lost depth. 1 more off season, which will bring in 1 draft pick (plus 1 early 2nd round pick), a MLE SG who can defend & space the floor, + a verteran minumum big man, and then the Bulls can deal. With the future & present both in focus, next year is the time to make a deal, and likely coming off a strong playoff push this year, we could be one of the favorites next year, & for the next 5-10 years as well.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    and most importantly, all of the Bulls current assets look to improve of the next 2 years, so why sell them now? I especially like the value of trading the Charlotte pick in 2 years.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I agree with your assessment. The Bulls shouldn't get trigger-happy and make a move this year that will limit them in the future. Building a championship team is a process, and the Bulls are well on their way. The ways you listed where they can upgrade during the offseason--through the draft and free agency--is the smart way to go.

    If they don't get to that next level after next year, then the front office might want to think of a more high-risk move. I know there are some fans who will bitch and moan about now, and how they're not bold or serious about winning, but the Bulls window is just starting to open. I would hate to see it slam shut by a short-term deal that seriously handicaps them moving forward.

    How many teams are serious contenders anyway? The list is short: Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, and maybe the Heat. Orlando won't win it all, even with all their trade machinations. They saw the writing on the wall and made desperation deals, but they still won't raise the trophy. Dallas is a perennial pretender, who, even with all the personnel movement Cuban constantly manufactures, will also never win a championship.

  • In reply to zentastic:

    agree completely

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    The Bulls star isn't good enough this season is the harsh reality too ... Rose needs to get better and that's going to make more of an impact than anything else. I don't really see a new SG changing this team from what it is to being on the next level. Going all in for a SG now is a huge risk for basically zero upside.

    As far as Deng goes, I think his fragile rep is probably a bit overblown, and his healthier seasons have tended to be ones where he's played big minutes anyway. He might get injured later, who knows, but I don't think there's a lot you can do about it. May as well get as many quality minutes as you can from him while he's healthy.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I agree with you about Deng, I'm just saying with the injuries to Noah & Booz already, it seems like Deng could be next. I was actually trying to pay him a compliment by saying this team needs him so much, not really trying to bring up his injury history.

  • REALITY CHECK
    This works in the trade machine
    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=2d5r38l

  • In reply to jpbaker81:

    So does this trade:
    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=24oapfv

    I think they are both equally unlikely to occur. Maybe if Deng was an expiring deal, but he has a few more years left.

  • In reply to jpbaker81:

    This trade works, too:
    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=2fyqsu9

    I don't see either one happening, though.

  • In reply to saigman:

    Of, if you really want to get silly:

    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=25eoa7h

    Point being that something working out in the Trade Machine isn't germane to the real world beyond the dollar values involved.

  • In reply to saigman:

    Sorry for the same trade twice. It didn't look like the post took the first time.

  • In reply to saigman:

    Good update RoadWarrior...you can also vote by texting the number "69622" an texting them "Rose"....i do it every single day. Lets get the guy starting in the all star game!

    ROSE>>>>>>>Rondo

    Bulls need a SG! lol

  • In reply to jpbaker81:

    K.C. Johnson's "Breaking News" blurb has Derrick remaining behind Rajon Rondo of the Celtics in the fan voting. East coast Sucks!(kidding). But there both in the 700,000's/he's not that far off. Outlying precincts yet to report in. As others have reminded please vote for D-Rose on NBA.com as I've tried to do just about every day or at least every day I've been online which is most. I also voted for Joakim and Booz every time as well. Why not?

    Side note: in response to K.C.'s all star/Derrick blurb, someone commented on Rajon Rondo as overrated as a defender simply because of his high steals number. There have been some guys who get steals who are not terrific one on one defenders nor a great threat to convert. But two guys who led the league in steals who were a threat to convert bear the names Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. And they were not overrated defenders. I'm not sure Rondo is either though I have seen him get burned by Derrick and other elite PG's as well. Still, in a team defensive system like Boston's he often is very good/a difference maker.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    Defensively, Rondo reminds me of the Washington-era Larry Hughes. He'll jump passing lanes effectively for steals (and Rondo is one of the best at doing this). But he'll also be caught out of position quite a bit, too.

    Like you said, though, Rondo is in a system that he is allowed (encouraged?) to do this, so it works. That, and the fact that refs don't seem to want to call any fouls against him. Even a video game set to the next-to-lowest foul tolerance would have him for 4 or 5 reaches a game.

  • In reply to jpbaker81:

    Jon,

    As they say, "imitation is the greatest form of flattery."

    GET A CLUE!!!

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Jon,

    The Bulls do need Melo, but it will probably take a 3rd team to get it done.

    I think Charlotte could be that team.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Charles Caleb Colton didn't have anything to say about mockery did he?

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    NEWS FLASH

    Mr Happy, at this point I really hope they trade for Melo.That or he goes somewhere else, so I never have to hear about him again.

    YIKES!!!

  • In reply to jpbaker81:

    Agreed....Rondo is a heck of a player but he is slightly overrated imo.

    He is playing with 3 future hall of famers right now...his assist numbers should be good when your throwing the ball to Ray Allen, Paul Pierce,KG. THose guys have combined for over 60,000 career points. He probably averages 7-8 assist on set plays, plays where guys are just coming off screens an pick an rolls where guys like Allen,Pierce an KG are converting on those passes. Like i said, i think he is a great player but having those guys on his team DEFFINETLY makes him look a lot better.

    Defensively, he can go for steals all day long with the front court the Celtics have. Shaq,JOneal,Perkins,KG,Big Baby, Sheed last year....Put Rondo on the Cavs or Raptors an he wouldnt be nearly as good. Put Rose on those teams an he will still dominate. Rose should start over Rondo in the All Star Game....lets get it done Bulls fans.

  • Doug,

    It's still a barometer.

    They need to beat the top teams, healthy or not.

    SIDE NOTE:

    It looks like the Celtics will be w/o KG when they play the Bulls.

    http://www.nba.com/celtics/news/sidebar/update123010-kevin-garnett-injury.html

  • Mitchell,

    This why January is a key month.

    After measuring themselves against Boston, Orlando, Miami and New York, we'll find out how bad this Bulls' management wants to win a championship.

    If they stand pat, then they obviously don't.

  • I don't get how Brewer is a backup at best when he was the full time starter on Utah teams that averaged around 50 wins in the tough Western conference. He's a legit starter.

    Bogans however isn't just the worst starting SG in the NBA, he's probably the worst starter full stop.

  • I'm not sure I'd even take the Bulls over the field to win the title in 96. I think people underestimate how unlikely winning titles is, even if you're a great team. Something can always go wrong.

  • Yes we have, and maybe that has led me to feel that Deng could be next. But remember Deng's history, & think about how much he is playing. I would hate to see it, and I think the Bulls would really struggle to replace him unless JJ miraculously steps up his basketball IQ.

    Its just a fear, hope it doesn't go down like that.

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