So for all those who watched the first game of the Chicago Bulls‘ seven-game series with the Brooklyn Nets, it’s clear that the game was lopsided the whole night. The Bulls ended up losing 106-89 in a game where nothing seemed to go right for them. Sure, they could blame it on the injuries, but that’s not their style and it wouldn’t really make a difference.
Chicago fans don’t want excuses. They want results and they’re hoping not to leave this year’s playoffs with the same bad taste in their mouths as last year’s.
We can all remember last year’s first-round match-up, the No. 1 seeded Bulls were to face the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, and nobody expected it to last more than five games. But an injury to Joakim Noah and a devastating injury to Derrick Rose turned the teams’ fates around and the 76ers ended up winning the series.
Now while this series doesn’t have any devastating injuries (yet), it still finds the Bulls in a similar situation that they found themselves in last season: injured. The Bulls have limped along all season and if there is one time where injuries will cost you, it’s the playoffs.
That said, Chicago is unlikely to suffer the same fate they did last season. The team has built a reputation of strong defense, and while their offense may not produce like it once was, they are still able to put points on the board from several different players on any given night.
Match-up wise the Nets may have the upper hand, but the personnel doesn’t guarantee anything, especially in the playoffs. The playoffs bring out the best in teams and if there is one thing that Chicago has proven, it’s that when they play at their best, they can beat anybody — just ask the Miami Heat.
Chicago hasn’t been all that consistent this season, but they have done one thing better than any other team: exceed expectations. Believe it or not, Chicago held the first seed in the Eastern Conference for a time and despite slipping to the fifth seed, they still did what most didn’t expect, which was make the Playoffs.
As for Brooklyn, they erred on the side of underachieving. With a new stadium, new personnel and a new look, they were expected to be at least the third seed by most experts. Now I’m not saying the fourth seed is bad by any means, but all I am saying is that fans expected more, more effort, more consistency and more wins.
So is this significant? So what if the Bulls have over achieved by some means and the Nets haven’t? To most this wouldn’t matter, but it would to others. Chicago has handled more adversity this season than most teams, and that counts for something in the playoffs. Believe it or not, that same adversity may be the lone reason why they actually stand a chance and why they may avoid the same outcome as last season.
Game 1 is a thing of the past, and now Chicago knows what to expect heading into Game 2. Chicago knows what they need to do to avoid a first-round exit for the second year in a row, and I expect them to do everything necessary to ensure that that doesn’t happen.