Do they really still have enough to win? Can the next man really step up? The Bulls will Hinrich, Belinelli, Butler, Boozer, and Mohammed against the Raptors tonight. Boozer is the only played who'd still be starting with the full complement of players available. The Raptors stink, but then again, so did the Pistons.
Quite frankly, so do the Bulls when they're missing their three best players, another guy inside the top six, and whatever you consider Rip Hamilton (I don't have him in the top eight, but opinions may vary). No team in the league suffers these type of lineups and continues to gather victories, but the Bulls have fought through adversity better than most.
Joakim aggravated his plantar fasciitis
Joakim Noah will miss tonight's game after aggravating his injury from the past game. I'm sure people will be all up on the coaching staff for letting him play before he was ready, but plantar fasciitis is a tricky injury. The thing is, it can feel fine one day and lousy the next and probably needs 3-4 months of rest to really heal.
Joakim's not going to be 100% this season. He's going to have to play through pain in the playoffs. The question is simply does playing now to keep his timing/conditioning help more than the additional pain he may endure?
If Joakim goes into the playoffs after resting for a month, then I think he'll struggle considerably more in the playoffs so getting him a few games back to get his timing prior to the playoffs seems important.
In this sense, I'd probably be tempted to rest Joakim until there were only three games remaining.
Nothing much to play for
The Bulls will finish somewhere between 4th and 7th as thing stand now, and quite frankly, there are strengths and weaknesses to any of those positions in terms of playoff seeding.
The 4th/5th spot gives the Bulls the most winnable matchup against the Nets. The 6th/7th seeds give the Bulls matchups that allow them to avoid Miami until the ECF which gives them a greater possibility of advancing further though a lesser possibility of getting out of the first round.
The Bulls simply don't want to fall to eighth, but that's simply not going to happen. While still mathematically possible, the odds are unlikely enough that the thought isn't really worth considering.
Don't blame Thibodeau for the injuries
I know there's this thought out there that Thibs vastly overplays everyone causing all of these injuries, but the blame belongs with Forman/Paxson far more.
Look up and down this roster:
Derrick Rose - Plays a style begging for injury
Carlos Boozer - Historically a high injury player
Luol Deng - Historically a high injury player
Kirk Hinrich - Hasn't been healthy since leaving Chicago
Joakim Noah - Very few centers with his body type stay healthy
Taj Gibson - See Joakim Noah, and has been pressed into plenty of action at center due to lack of another quality big man
Rip Hamilton - Massively injury prone over the past few seasons
Oh wait, that's the entire starting lineup and a couple of your rotation guys on the bench.
The only guys who don't have bad injury histories or body types that would likely lead to injury are the guys who simply have barely played in the NBA thus far.
So now Chicago is dealing with the results of a lineup that never stood much chance of staying healthy, and it sucks.
That's not to say the Bulls choose poorly in putting these guys together, there are many risks you need to take while building a team, and I'm more content with this group than getting a lesser talented group that would be deemed 'healthier' more consistently. The injury risk sucks and has hurt the team, but I'm really only ever upset on the missed talent evaluations.
Can the Bulls pull one out tonight?
The Bulls are banged up, the Raptors are terrible. Who knows.
If Toronto can stay interested in the game, they should have a good shot at taking down this makeshift Bulls squad. The Bulls certainly don't have talent on anyone in the NBA right now while missing half the roster.
That said, the Bulls are engaged with their coach, care about whether they win or lose, and aren't simply looking forward to an off-season where they hope to get traded to another team.
In that sense, I'd give them a pretty good shot at pulling one out. Especially given that the team typically plays quite well after losses.