A few weeks ago, Coach Thibs admitted the Bulls were playing shorthanded. And by shorthanded, he means without DRose. But last night at the TD Garden in Boston, the Bulls were also without their new-found rock, this year’s go-to guy Luol Deng after he left in the third quarter due to his hamstring strain. And given my flu-like symptoms and 99-degree fever, add me to the injured list. So the Bulls were REALLY short-handed.
Luol’s buzzer-beater north of the border (vs. the Toronto Raptors) saved the day on Wednesday night. Side note: This Bulls fan was at the United Center to witness Luol’s buzzer-beater vs. Toronto last March, at the 2012 “birthday game.” Given Lu is British, I’m a bit surprised that he continues to mis-treat the Canadians like this. Oh Canada!
Back to the matter at hand. There’s oh so much for Bulls fans everywhere to be excited about coming out of last night’s game. First, the Bulls led for almost all of the game, and they out-played the poor old Celtics pretty consistently until the Cs seemed to come alive in the fourth quarter.
But even more importantly, we must consider two characteristics which set the Bulls apart: unselfishness and collective effort. It’s not about who’s getting the next double double or the most points. It’s about passing the ball to whoever has the best look at the basket. What a concept. And there’s been a lot written this week about stepping up by committee, combining collectively to win. When Luol left for the locker room in Q3, our UConn man Rip and second-year man Jimmy “The Butler” were on the case. And Los and Jo bolstered the team’s performance with what’s become their consistent play.
It’s unlikely that Doc Rivers could have ever predicted the big play-makers would be Kirk Hinrich and Marco Belinelli. Marco who? He probably wasn’t even on the scouting report, but as Stacey King likes to say, KYP (know your personnel).
From the start of the season, coach Thibs has said “We’ve got what it takes to win.” He never said, “Yikes, it’s gonna be rough without Derrick” or “We’ll just do what we can until Derrick’s back, but let me tell you, it’s not going to be pretty.” I admire him for instilling this belief in the team. And I guess, it’s a life lesson for the rest of us, who might not quite be NBA stars (yet), but could use the same kind of attitude in our daily lives, for work or whatever. We can do this thing!
Some of the commentators, who shall remain nameless, but there’s four of them, and they are on TNT, discounted the Bulls from the start. I guess other teams, aka the Heat would just fold if LeBron were out for most of the season. And I would love to see the Thunder’s record if KD were rehabbing all year. Perhaps said naysayers were assuming the Bulls would fare the same way these other teams would without their superstar.
But to demonstrate how far the Bulls have come, I read an article today where one of the sports reporters actually admitted he thinks the Bulls could end up first in the East. I’m not going to say it, but I told you so.
As it seems to be the week of unexpected Bulls happenings, I’ll close with the news that Coach Thibs actually went out to dinner; Doc Rivers took him out in Boston. Thibs turned 55 on January 17. This goes against reports by DRose a few years back where he claimed he’s never seen Coach in a restaurant, or out anywhere – only watching tape. I guess anyone, even Thibs can make an exception for his/her birfday.
Let’s hope that the swagger the Bulls have developed on the road stays with them as they make their way back to the United Center. So it’s the Bulls vs. the Bears (Grizzlies) tonight…Thibs, in case you need me, fever’s gone, I can go.