Watching the NBA playoffs feels bittersweet right now. Let's face it. If you're a Bulls fan you're probably rooting for Miami to lose. They've managed to capture the hate of the nation like few other teams ever have.
Now it's too early to count Miami out. They already proved they could storm back against the Pacers, and quite frankly, Boston's nothing special in terms of team quality. Much like I said on my podcast when the Heat went down 2-1 to Indiana, I still felt they'd win. I still think this series is a toss up rather than the 83% chance Boston wins as history would tell us.
Ignoring the fact that the Heat could still come back, it's hard to take much joy in the losses, because watching them play, I realize that if Derrick Rose doesn't tear his ACL, the Bulls would have just closed this thing out in five. It'd be over.
We'll never know for sure what would have happened, but Miami has played terribly and Boston barely scraped by the Philly team that the Bulls almost beat without Rose. A healthy Bulls team would have been in the finals this season, and we were robbed of that.
Perhaps it's some sick delayed reaction to the injury, but my anger at Thibodeau for playing Rose and the organization for seeing nothing wrong with playing him has actually increased rather than decreased.
After the fact, how do you not say that this was a mistake? How do you not look at a guy who's been hurt all year and say if we lower his minutes by 10-20% we're probably reducing the chance of injury by 20-30% (injuries are more likely to occur at a point of higher fatigue).
I get why you played him at the time, but I don't get how you don't look back and say "In retrospect, this decision cost us a 50/50 shot at a title, so yeah, perhaps we should have been a bit more careful there even if the conventional wisdom was that you keep your star in the game.".
Looking at the Thunder, I have serious doubts as to whether the Bulls could beat them in a series. I don't know that the Bulls could have won a championship, but I feel really confident that they would have taken one step towards it.
Instead of debating who to add to the mix this summer, we'll spend as much time debating how to blow this thing up and rebuild because the present core is going to lose quite a bit by the time Rose is really ready to roll in 2013/14. I expected to take great joy in Miami's struggles as a consolation prize, but instead it simply adds on to the pain I feel for not having our team causing them.