Bulls aim to become undisputed preseason championships

It will likely have the fan fare of the BCS and a media vote, but clearly the only undefeated team wins the title right? I expect the Bulls will hand out preseason championship belts simultaneously while the Heat get their championship rings from last season, or maybe we'll save the honor for the first home game in New York.

I kid, I kid.

Even though it's totally irrelevant, I'm excited for the Bulls perfect start in preseason. With the stress over Joakim's groin, Kirk's head, and the momentary blip over whether Derrick Rose was really back when he skipped the game in Rio, it's been awfully nice not to have to worry about anything that happened on the court.

Are the Bulls playing the games more seriously than their opponents? Maybe. Maybe not. Chicago's been missing at least one starter for every game and their starters haven't really played notably more minutes than the competition.

Even against OKC when the Bulls closed off the game with Rose while Durant rested to take back the lead, the Thunder had built it back up with Durant on the floor against the Bulls backups.

The reality is that the Bulls have simply played well in preseason so far. The defense looks very solid, Derrick Rose looks better than ever, and the rest of the offense has rounded into shape after a couple of poor starts in the first few games.

The Bulls new alignment is generating significantly more free throw attempts which is giving Chicago a pillar of efficiency to stand on right now.

There are still concerns, the health of Noah is a big one as the Bulls will struggle if he's out for an extended period of time. This, of course, leads into the problem of guessing when you can bring him back in so that he's not out for an extended period of time.

Of course, Chicago doesn't want to rest him once he's good, but playing 20 minutes and causing a set back for a week is a far worse scenario. Groin injuries are tricky that way. The good news for Chicago is that if they're conservative early, and I hope they are, then Noah won't have any lingering affects from this later.

On paper I think everyone would agree, better to have Jo out for all of November and be sure he's really, really ready than be wondering in May whether or not his groin will hold up for a playoff series. That said, it seems really hard for the management of any sports team to pull the trigger on shutting a guy down for a period longer than what might be necessary to ensure he's fully healed.

I don't expect the Bulls to play things that conservatively, and if Jo's healthy that's fine. However, the first time we have a recurrence the Bulls will need to look out for the "I told you so" police. Jen Swanson can start earning her money by convincing the Bulls to play it safe.

Outside of the news with Noah, it's full steam ahead for Chicago though. Derrick couldn't look better, Jimmy looks to prove last season was no fluke, Luol Deng rebounded from a slow start to play quite well recently, and even Carlos Boozer logged a good game against OKC.

Dunleavy hasn't shot the ball as well as I'd hoped for at times, but I'm not concerned about it. His hustle and play in other areas has been better than I expected, and I'm more pleased with the signing after seeing him in preseason than I was when it was made.

Marquis Teague has also improved his play considerably after a slow start and anyone scouting him after his first couple games might be a bit more intrigued as well.

Going into the regular season, I feel amazingly confident about this team. Title? Maybe, maybe not, but they're good. Really good. Certainly as good as other teams who've won the title in the past. They have a juggernaut in front of them in terms of Miami, but they've got as good of weapons to combat them as ever.

So I will root for Chicago to clinch a preseason championship tonight. It won't mean a thing once the ball is tossed up October 29th, but I love that the Bulls look like winners right now. They look serious. They look motivated. They look like a legitimate contender.

Filed under: Miscellaneous

Tags: chicago bulls, nba, preseason

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  • Its good to see the Bulls undefeated record this preseason but i will be satisfied when they can have success against the Heat if they meet come playoffs. The Pacers and Spurs both took the Heat to seven series and the Bulls are 0 for 2 against tge Heat and only have 2 wins against them during the playoffs. If it's a matchup problem that the Bulls have against the Heat during the playoffs then some adjustments and playoff moves need to be made. But overall the Bulla look good so far and hopefully it will carry over well into the season and into the Finals with at least aFinals appearance.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I know everyone still looks at how the Bulls played against in the past, but I don't know if it's still relevant anymore. Last year the Bulls faced them with half a team and the other time was three years ago already. I think there are only five players left from that team. It seems like they have already made the adjustments. If they don't win the championship this year, I think there will be bigger roster moves (Boozer gone, and I don't see Deng back). But this year's squad is it's own team. I don't think you can compare them with the past teams, because Rose is better, Butler is better, Noah is better, Boozer is...well, Boozer is Boozer, and the bench is comprised differently. I think you are right, though, that success this season really comes down to how they play against the Heat.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    Obviously, I'm referring to the Heat in my first sentence.

  • This team has a different feel to it compared to the last few years. Maybe it's because Rose is back, maybe it's because the question mark at shooting guard has finally been answered, maybe it's because the FO seems to be taking the injury problems more seriously. I don't know. Whatever it is, this Bulls team seems hyper-focused, and deadly serious about what the ultimate goal is. Everyone appears to be on the same page, team chemistry looks good already, and the offense seems to have evolved, even from before Derrick's injury. I know it's early, but I feel really good about their chances to finally get past Miami. It's going to be a great season!

  • Can we sign Kendall Marshall?

  • Good question, because Bulls may very well make an "end-of-roster move' by signing a newly released player and releasing one or more of their non-guaranteed players.

    Is that Saturday's column, Doug?

  • Let me bring up a key factor pretty much every single person in the world is not realizing right now. Regardless of whether or not you realize how completely different this particular team is from the team 3 years ago or how we played Miami with half a team last year and we're missing TWO of our all stars, the fact of the matter is Miami barely won last year. They got very favorable calls and should have lost that pacers series AND that Spurs series, so what that means is that they themselves are not going to have anywhere as easy of a year this season. And as for their moves. I highly doubt they'll pay them significant enough dividends. And to be more specific, seeding is going to matter this year more than ever and anyway you cut it Miami has not one, but 4 pretty interesting teams gunning for them. I don't think the nets will pan out, but after watching two preseason games they hate the Heat enough that they could contribute some wear and tear in a first round match up. And we all know that statistically NY won't beat them, but that's a big stage to play on and they could push Miami a teeny bit given that they have a legitimate superstar and brought in a bruiser in Artest. Finally, Miami won't just have to go through the Bulls, they'll also have to go through the Pacers. Good luck with that Miami. I bet they'll have 3 tough rounds and not even make it out of the east regardless of whether or not our beloved Bulls are the benefactors or initiators of that eventuality. So let's stop kissing their a**es so much and enjoy watching them get straight targeted this season while they hyper focused Bulls just become stronger. Guarantee you that if the Bulls play them healthy THIS post season, it won't even go to 7. There are too many reasons why.

  • In reply to AskChiTown.com:

    I don't for a second think the Pacers should have beaten the Heat, but the Spurs clearly should have.

    You make some good points though... the Heat don't play as well as they look on paper. If they did, they would have breezed through 3 championships by now. Instead they lost one Finals to a Mavs team that was hardly one of the all-time great teams, mostly breezed through an upstart OKC team, then needed tremendous breaks to beat the Spurs, who are an all-time great team but at the end of their run.

    Heat have the 2nd best player of all time and a couple of all-stars to support him so it seems like they should be all-world, all the time, but if you look at how they actually performed, they haven't been. I don't know if it's lack of a big man or coaching or what.

    I'll believe in the contributions of Greg Oden and Michael Beasley when I see it and see it and see it.

  • Oh and let me make a prediction. Again, barring health exceptions...these Bulls are probably going to shock people and break a few records this year. Last week I rewatched Michael's first championship season and it's almost like you had to look back at it and be like I knew it was coming, but I really didn't see it coming like that. We could possibly start 4 all-stars (current & previous) and I think the slight improvement in overall help defense and individual matchups by adding Butler and Snell to the mix, plus bringing back Kirk who not only guards star guards well, but specifically gives Wade problems...this team will develop a stifling defense right around March that will crush teams and carry them right into a dominating playoffs.

  • In reply to AskChiTown.com:

    Well, I do like your predictions. I can see the stifling defense, however I will have to see a better offense to be convinced - by that I mean an offense that can score consistently even against the Heat! It certainly seems possible.

    BTW, how did Noah hurt his groin? Did that happen in practice? The Bulls still need a solid backup big.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    I agree that the offense is the big question mark when going against other elite teams in the deep playoffs. That second unit looks pretty awful and Thibodeau will be forced to play Deng with that unit, maybe go with a lineup of Hinrich, Dunleavy, Deng, Gibson and Nazr. The Bulls have to be quicker in what their trying to do and not wait until the shot clock ticks down to a few seconds and someone is forced into a bad shot.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    When Reese writes that your optimistic prediction is "not going to get it done," just realize that he constantly predicts that Rose and Thibs are going to leave the team. Of course, he's just being "realistic," which is how all pessimists defend their negativity.

  • In reply to AskChiTown.com:

    We all want the Bulls to beat Miami in the playoffs but the pep talk that your trying to sell to everyone is not going to get it done. It is what it is when it come to this Bulls team, last years Bulls team or the 2011 Bulls team that lost to the Heat in five games, the offense has to improve immensely in order for the Bulls to beat Miami during the playoffs.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Absolutely the O has to make a major upgrade to take the Heat. It is possible, at least, which is nice to see. But several things will all have to click to pull that off, and I would say the odds of that are about 25%.

    1) The Bulls need to be healthy for the playoffs;
    2) Butler needs to take another step up in his game, especially on offense;
    3) Taj needs to continue playing like he has been in preseason;
    4) Rose has to dominate like he has the last few games;
    5) Dunleavy needs to do what he was signed for, namely, shoot, pass, and defend a bit;
    6) Someone else, most likely Snell or Teague, has to step up and contribute for more than a few minutes here and there;
    7) Of course, Deng, Noah, and Boozer will have to play up to their potential.

    !) looks to be the toughest by far. All the rest seem very doable.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Agreed with everything that you said especially about the Bulls trying to remain healthy come playoff time. Imo this Bulls team can beat every other team in the league during the playoffs but seem to have major problems when it comes to Miami. That's why I stated that whatever adjustments that need to be made meaning trades or whatever should be done before the season ends because if the Bulls lose to the Heat again in the playoffs some major roster changes should be coming.

  • I'm fairly certain I read that Noah slipped on a wet spot on the court in practice, and hurt the groin.

  • In reply to BullsMan:

    Yes, that's what I read too.

  • Thank you both.

  • We still need a True Center. Maybe Gar/Pax have something up their sleeve????

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