The Chicago Bulls are one of the NBA‘s most feel good stories of the year. They’ve overcome the season-ending injury to Derrick Rose, climbed the standings despite the trade of Luol Deng, and had Joakim Noah win Defensive Player of the Year. The 2013-14 regular season couldn’t have been scripted any better for the Bulls given all of the adversity the team faced.
With all of that said, their storybook season means very little if the Bulls can’t defeat the Washington Wizards in the first round of the playoffs. So far — after being down two games to the Wizards — the Bulls have been out coached and out played by Washington’s young and less experienced squad. There has been very little energy to start and finish both games, which destroyed any chance of the Bulls coming away with a win.
This wasn’t what the Bulls were known for in regular season. Unfortunately, if they lose the series to the Wizards, they’ll only be remembered for what they couldn’t do — incapable of guarding Nene, and too slow to handle John Wall. Noah is looking like a marginal defender at best, while Kirk Hinrich can’t keep up with the Wizards’ backcourt. That’s a far cry from being the league’s top defensive team throughout the course of the season.
But nobody cares about the regular season once the playoffs start. Nobody will care that Noah was the Defensive Player of the Year, or that the Bulls managed to win 48 games without both Rose and Deng out for much of the season. That’s just the way it works. Dirk Nowitzki won the Most Valuable Player award in 2007, but all of that was tainted when the Dallas Mavericks lost to the eighth seed Golden State Warriors in the first round. The same could be said about the Bulls if they lose two more games to the Wizards.
The Bulls might not be a championship contending team, however, they are built to at least compete in the playoffs. If they continue to disappoint in the postseason, any accolades they won during the regular season is meaningless.