Four; that’s the number of players who were injured for the Chicago Bulls entering Wednesday’s game against the Miami Heat. Three; that’s the number of players who were active for the Bulls but saw no playing time. So with seven players not playing, the Bulls were run by a squad of eight people. Of those eight, only six played more than 20 minutes. These numbers may seem insignificant to most, but let me assure you they’re not. The Bulls put the fate of the game in the hands of six players throughout the game and they didn’t disappoint.
I have said before that athletes get worn out from 40 minutes of action or more, and the Bulls are no different. However, time after time they seem to dispel that notion and continue to perform at a high level despite the hefty minutes that each individual logs. It is here where we come to a scary realization; the Bulls are resilient. While many teams would crumble if four of their players were injured and another three didn’t play at all, the Bulls didn’t; they continued to play the style of basketball that they have perfected and can perform no matter how many players are actively on the floor.
This fact alone should scare opponents. If they can beat the league’s best team with six players playing heavy minutes (Nazr Mohammed and Daequan Cook logged 16 and 12 minutes of playing time respectively) then it’s pretty scary to think what they can do with a full roster in a seven game series. That’s what this is about and that’s what teams are gearing up for as the NBA Playoffs slowly approach.
Playoff seeds are not all solidified at this point, but right now the Bulls rank fifth behind the Brooklyn Nets which means that these two teams will get to duke it out in often the most intriguing first round of playoff basketball. The fourth and fifth seed teams are usually separated by only a few games which makes the action between the two even more watchable. Two teams who are virtually tied in the conference going head to head for seven games is what basketball is about, and in the case of Chicago versus Brooklyn, I think the edge goes to Chicago. Why? Because they can win in so many different ways from so many different players. It’s unknown whether Derrick Rose will return for the playoffs, but if he doesn’t, the Bulls can expect big games from any one of their players which keeps teams on their defensive wits at all times.
I’m not saying the Bulls are guaranteed the victory in the series, but I think they have more ways to win and their victory over the Heat demonstrated just that.