Off the charts and through the roof

The Bulls beat the Celtics 109 to 102 during a Black Friday matinee game, having to overcome a 16-point deficit they managed to create for themselves in the first half.

Now we’re making some progress, with the Bulls back on the East Coast, playing those “soft” Eastern Conference teams, which Mark Cuban (and others) want to split up by moving some into the West.

Whatever. I’m just glad the Circus Trip, with it’s 9:30 p.m. CST starts is almost over. I was able to make it through the entire Celtics game without dozing off, and I even got to watch Thibs’ post-game press conference. That’s a rarity. Even more rare – he smiled (see below, Exhibit A).

Exhibit A - Thibs smiles.
Exhibit A – Thibs smiles.

And turkey must agree with Thibs, because he was all compliments, and even started talking about bunnies. I guess he thought it was the Easter matinee game.

“He was playing with a high intensity,” said Thibodeau of Rose. “When you look at his plus/minus when he’s on the floor for our team this year it’s off the charts.”

“Jo, it’s hard to measure (him) statistically,” Thibodeau added. “I told him that yesterday. If you look at what Jo did, I’ll go back to the Utah game. He didn’t play big minutes. If you looked at his line, the box score, you’d say, ‘What did he do (four points and five rebounds)? But when you look at his (Noah’s) plus/minus (team high plus 19 in that game) when he’s on the floor, off the charts. It’s how you make the team function. It’s not individually what you do. There are guys who can score when they are on the floor (and) it’s a negative. When Jo’s on the floor and has that bounce to him it’s a huge plus for our team; he makes our defense go. He makes plays offensively.”

“Pau missed bunnies; he makes those shots all the time. The thing I loved is he played a great game without shooting the ball well,” Thibodeau said. “His rebounding was terrific. Just his presence.”

It’s important to note that this was the fourth time that the “official” starting lineup (DRose / Jo / Pau / JB / Mike Dunleavy, Jr.) played together. And they’re undefeated (4-0) when they start together.

While the Bulls were sluggish in the first half, either due to turkey hangover, or to over-exertion following the team Thanksgiving Day ping pong tournament (Pau Gasol wins Bulls Thanksgiving ping pong tournament), Thibs must have given some kind of inspirational speech during halftime.

DRose scored 12 in the first four minutes of the second half.

Jo was himself again. He was everywhere, grabbing re-bounds, going up for second shots, pestering the Celtics players.

Thibodeau: “You can’t say enough about the way Jo played, his activity, the rebounding, blocked shots, multiple effort plays. You can see he’s got his bounce. It’s good to see him playing like that.”

And for anyone who is worried about DRose, think again. Here’s his self-assessment:

“(My) confidence is through the roof. I don’t need more confidence. I just need to play. I know how good I am and I know how good I’m going to be, I just need to be out there playing.”

So things are looking up for our Bulls. And I start basketball lessons today, with a new coach. The Bulls and Thibs have NEVER seen a player quite like me.

See Red! Go Bulls! Beat the Nets.


Bulls win one in the west as DRose and Pau play, while JB gets booed and Jo gets hit in the eye

I just re-watched the Bulls vs. Jazz game (I might have dozed off during the second half last night, but what else is new?). It’s good to see some things just don’t change.

The Bulls got off to a great start, and led by 21 at some point during the first half, went into halftime ahead by 13, then managed to fall behind, and were down by three points in Q4. I’ve seen this one before (all of last year). I should actually be thankful, because last year, there were some quarters where the Bulls couldn’t even score 13 points.

So would I rather have them have to fight to stay ahead at the end of the game after leading by double digits? Or, have to overcome a double-digit deficit with super-human heroics at the end of the game? I guess I’ll take the former.

Although what I’m really looking for is double digit leads throughout, and no heart attacks. No having to turn down the volume and clean the condo (boring) because am unable to watch game due to hyperventilating. And it’s only November!

So this marked the third time the “official” starting lineup played together. JB got into a scuffle (something to do with a moving screen, according to Stacey King) with Jazz player Ingles, and got a technical. Then, the Jazz fans booed him the rest of the night.

Jo got poked in the eye, and evidently, he’s out tonight versus the Nuggets. Not only because of the eye, but because of his left knee (yup, that’s the one the Bulls team docs repaired over the summer).

This got me to thinking about measuring pain. Can that be done? I, for one, know that my tolerance is pretty low. But how can you compare the pain Derrick is feeling vs. what Jo or Pau or Captain Kirk is experiencing?

Jo has definitely played with more than his share of pain, and left the playoffs last year practically on a stretcher.

DRose, on the other hand, won’t play unless he feels “100 percent.” And frankly, Thibs is starting to lose his patience. (Today, on an interview on The Game Chicago, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune said he thinks that even Thibs has grown tired of repeating his “we have more than enough…next man up” philosophy.)

Speaking of DRose, “He’s got to get out there and play,” Thibodeau said. “I thought he did a lot of good things. You could see he’s not real comfortable with the ball yet, but that will come. When Derrick strings some games together, he’s going to take off. He’s got to go. That’s the bottom line. He’s got to go.”

I will say that the Bulls winning Championship #7 is dependent on health, but I contend that no one’s health is more important than Joakim Noah. Whatever did those docs do to him over the summer? He’s a fraction of his former self. We need our heart and soul back!

When it comes to the game at hand, Denver, with everyone but Jo potentially in the starting lineup, the Bulls may have a chance to escape the altitude, and the west with another win.

Thankfully, after Turkey Day, it’s back to the less-than-mighty Eastern Conference, and two games that start in the daytime. Even I should be able to stay awake for their entirety (Celtics noon CST Friday and Brooklyn at 2 p.m. CST on Sunday).

See Red! Go Bulls! Beat the Nuggets.

Good-bye Portland, next stops…

Instead of celebrating having won the west, the Bulls cannot get out of Portland fast enough. And next stops – the men’s department at Nordstrom’s, as half the players need suits instead of uniforms – to take their respective places on the bench. And that’s after having spent some quality time in the orthopedic unit of the local hospital.

I’m not so upset any more, about these West coast losses. I’ve come to realize, after seeing K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune post some frightening stats, that unless MJ says, “I’m back” at age 51, the Bulls may never win the west again.

Here are the numbers: Bulls are 18-74 on Circus Trips since the dynasty (MJ, Scottie, etc.) ended.

The true test for these banged up Bulls will be when they’ve returned from the trip and are back on their usual schedule – a mix of Western and Eastern teams, home and away, at a more manageable pace and outside Hollywood and high altitudes.

To make myself feel better, I keep going back to the best game the Bulls have played thus far this year – November 13 vs. the Raptors. The Raps are #1 in the East, a big surprise to everyone, as that spot was to have been held by the Bulls, with the Cavs (not Wiz) following at #2.

[An aside: What do you want me to say? The Cavs didn’t realize they were hiring LeBron as their coach when they brought him on board, and he’s not very good. And evidently, the players don’t like taking direction from him.]

But back to the Bulls vs. Raps. That was ninth game of the season, and it marked the second game in a row the “official” starting lineup played together (DRose / Jo / Pow! / JB / Dun Dun). They beat Detroit on Nov. 10 with that lineup (not so hard to do, sorry Andre Drummond), and convincingly, albeit with much effort, beat the Raps the next game.

The performance vs. the Raps, a team against which the Bulls have struggled in the past – that’s the kind of basketball they’re capable of playing. But they just don’t get the chance.

Other than that, it’s been random lineups, mostly with starter-caliber players coming in and out (Taj, Captain Kirk). But now with DRose, Pow!, Kirk and Taji Woo all being injured – we’ve got backups to the backups playing again. Thibs rolled Big Naz in, and E’Twaun Moore (he backs up Aaron Brooks (AB) at point guard, and AB  backs up Captain Kirk, and Captain Kirk backs up DRose).

Right – we’ve got the fourth string PG playing in a game against one of the top teams in the West. How, pray tell, can you beat Damian Lillard that way?

I’m making excuses. Absolutely. “We have more than enough to win with.” But do we have to keep singing that same chorus every single year? Can the Bulls catch some kind of break (other than of a bone), at some point?

Recognizing that it’s most important to have as full an arsenal as possible in April, May and June, I’m fine with getting the injuries out of the way now. The starting lineup, once they re-unite (let’s hope for March) – will win.

And despite missing the Portland game on Friday due to attending a gig at the Vic Theatre, and seeing all the tweets about the loss, and Taj re-injuring his ankle (he was playing on a bad ankle all season…), I watched most of the game on Saturday. Most encouraging was the way the second/third unit combo competed.

Nikola Mirotic / E’Twaun / Doug McBuckets / Tony Snell / Big Naz.

They came in at the end of the second, and I think got the Bulls within four. This was after the Bulls were down by 15 or 17 or something like that. So that’s encouraging. And Nikola’s season-high 24 points, along with 11 rebounds (that’s a double double folks) was probably the brightest spot in this otherwise dismal night in Portland.

Nothing ever seems to go right there. DRose hurt his knee last year, ending his season on the exact same Friday in November that Taj sprained his ankle.

To make myself feel even better, I look at OKC, who lost two starters to injury (Westbrook, Durant), are at the BOTTOM of the Western Conference, at 3-11. What? They were supposed to have contended for the title and they’re giving the 76ers a run for their money with basement positioning?

There is NO way Thibs would ever let the Bulls sink that low, even if he had to play, along with the coaches, and Benny the Bull. No matter what, Thibs would find a way to get some wins, and get the Bulls into playoff positioning.

And with the caliber of a player like Cindy Joy “Cinjo” Olsen becoming available in the near future, after starting lessons with a new coach on November 29 – the sky’s the limit for these Bulls once they’re back in the UC and out of the wild wild west.

And then there are the Cavs. He he. I love to hate them, and their dysfunction. What, exactly, is your excuse, with the LeBron-constructed Big Three, and ESPN pre-game shows in the streets of Cleveland before every home game. The fact the Cavs are 5-7 gives me oh such satisfaction. I guess LBJ’s dual role of “best player on the planet” and Cavs coach is too much for him.

So now it’s on to Utah on Monday and Denver on Tuesday. A win, or two would be nice.

“You’ve got to keep moving forward because the games keep coming,” the Bulls’ Joakim Noah said. “Nobody feels sorry for you so you’ve got to keep going and getting better. Hopefully Taj will be all right.”

See Red! Go Bulls. Beat the Jazz.

How the West was won

OK, so maybe the Bulls haven’t exactly won the west.

So far, so good – with one win!

Evidently, the Bulls beat Lob City (Clippers) last night – convincingly.  I heard that Jo was waving towels from the bench and had his best game.

And a two-time NBA champ and All-Star (Pau Gasol) and former MVP and All-Star (DRose) were both on the bench sporting their anything but off-the-rack suits.

No problem. We’ve got JB, AB, Dun Dun and Captain Kirk. And Taji Woo.

This West Coast trip really takes its toll on me. Thankfully, with the DVR, all of the 9:30 p.m. CST games which I cannot watch due to being in cozy bed – well, I’ll enjoy them the following evening (if the Bulls win). The losses might be skips.

Cannot wait until tonight, when I can enjoy the entire Lob City game already knowing our Bulls won. And I saw on a tweet that CP3 said it was like being on the road. (There were more Bulls fans there than Clippers fans). He he. Ha ha. Only so much even the likes of Ballmer can do.

Next up:

Thursday – Kings

Friday – Trailblazers

Monday – Jazz (at least it starts at 8 p.m.)

Tuesday – Denver (8 p.m. again, but scared of the altitude)

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Please come back East with a winning record and no more injuries!

Chill Out

The Bulls headed north of the border last night (Canada, not Wisconsin), where Jo told the media to chill out. The Bulls also managed to chill out those pesky Raptors, with an impressive 100 to 93 win. And generally speaking, in Canada,  like in CHI – you chill out. Literally.

Oh, the Bulls are making news, lots of news as Derrick Rose, in his unintelligible and unguided way made some rather stupid comments earlier in the week about going to his son’s graduation (in 2026 I guess) and attending meetings pain-free.

What? Hello? What about 2014? Why aren’t you thinking about bringing home championship #7 now? Grant Park. Rally. #SeeRed. #BullsNation. Party with Benny the Bull?

It just won’t end for DRose, and after the Bulls had put on, what to me seemed to be by far their best performance of the season (except in the second quarter when the Bulls bench, dressed as the ImposterBulls made a really ugly appearance) – they hit another bump in the road again.

DRose fell down in Q4, and had to leave and couldn’t come back. Cue the “he’s always hurt,” “I told you so,” etc. music. I will say, that DRose looked like he was going to cry on the bench. Jo put his arm around him and tried to cheer him up. Later Big Naz was leaning over talking to him, telling what seemed to be a really long and animated story.

I think that is called the distraction technique. It’s often used for children. Here, we’re dealing with DRose, the boy in the bubble who is as talented as they come (and I’ll admit, injury-prone), but just doesn’t have a way with words. In fact, you really can’t understand what he’s saying.

But don’t kick the Bulls when they’re down. Remember: Luol Deng was traded away in exchange for salary cap space.  That’s what brought on Jo’s impassioned speech about Chicago Basketball (peppered with talk about adversity, I’m sure).

Joakim had this to say after the Bulls beat the Rap (moving into first place in the East) – referring to his brother, the floor general, superstar and team leader, DRose: “Everybody needs to chill out; chill out. Everybody needs to chill the (bleep) out.”

So here is Jo’s first formal speech of the season, in its entirety, going on about Derrick (and he didn’t even use the word adversity…Jo, you’re getting soft.)

“Looking at it as a teammate, it’s frustrating because he’s sometimes portrayed as something he is not. You don’t come back from the injuries he’s come back from without unbelievable commitment. I’m watching the power you (media) have; sometimes you guys can portray somebody as something he is not. That is a little disappointing to me because I know how much he cares about this game. I see it every day. You have injuries, you have tweaks. Every time something happens to him, people act like it’s the end of the world. That’s so lame to me. Relax, OK? He’s coming back from two crazy surgeries. Obviously, we are being conservative with him. He has to listen to his body more than anybody. I just don’t like it when people portray him and judge him. It’s not fair to him.”

As it turns out, sounds like Derrick just has a hamstring sprain.

Oh, and about the game – five Bulls in double figures, double double (again) for Pau Pau Pau Pau Pau.

I had to turn the volume off because I couldn’t remain sane listening to the clowns, I mean commentators on TNT.

Saturday, a team we used to love to hate, the Pacers are in town. Boy, how injuries can alter a season. Let’s hope the Bulls can beat them, as they may only have six players left. We feel your pain.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Pacers.

Note: I incorrectly listed the final score as 103 to 93 in the first paragraph. It’s been corrected. Math. Not strong suit.

Have fun at the rebounding clinic

It seems that you cannot win basketball games by sleepwalking. And that’s exactly what the Bulls did last night versus the Celtics.

By the third quarter, it was too painful to watch. I not only had to look away, I had to turn off the game completely. What a fair weather Bulls fan.

But Aaron Brooks, next in a long string of backup (or backup to the backup) point guards who Tom Thibodeau has saved from obscurity…well, Brooks almost single-handedly won the game for the Bulls in the end. (I turned the game back on…who wants to read a book anyway?) They were down 17, then he scored and scored and scored (19 total in Q4), and brought the Bulls to within three.

But his late-game heroics weren’t enough to revive the ImposterBulls, who made their season’s first appearance versus the Celtics, losing 106 to 101 in the end.

Maybe the silver lining is another career revived?

“I came in here lacking confidence,” Brooks admitted. “Even when I doubted myself, he (Thibodeau) told me. ‘I watched you play. You’ve done well; keep working hard.’ It’s been a breath of fresh air for me. When you have a coach working with you instead of against you, it gives you more confidence to go out there and play hard. It gives you confidence in yourself. It allows you to do a little more. Even when I do lack confidence at times, he’s there to help me out.”

As Derrick sat out yet another game, making it four of the seven games, and Jo looks like he needs a walker to get up and down the floor. Well, things are a little grim at the moment.

It is rather hard to believe that the these “little engines that could” (Nate Robinson, D.J. Augustin, now Aaron Brooks), getting paid the veteran’s minimum, or if not that, nowhere DRose’s salary…are the ones who save seasons and win games. How much is it DRose makes? I never was very good at math, but I think it starts with a Z. As in zillions.

Frustration might be setting in here at Bulls Banter headquarters. And if it’s that way for me, imagine how the guys on the team must feel. But you’d never know there was discontent from their camp.

The rebounding clinic Thibs is sure to hold today will hopefully start our Bulls down the right path. “We‘ve got to challenge shots better. Our ball pressure wasn’t great, our defensive transition wasn’t great, our rebounding wasn’t great. So there’s a lot we can correct.”

Next up are the Pistons, and UConn man Andre Drummond, who I’ll admit I did like when he was on the USA Basketball team this summer. But I could be less of a fan on Monday night, especially if he gets lots of rebounds and points in the paint.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Score, play defense and rebound please.

Beat the Pistons.

No need to reserve Grant Park for the June rally just yet

The Bulls had a rough go of it last night, as they FINALLY beat the hapless and deliberate tankers, the 76ers 118 to 115.

It was the same storyline on Wednesday night at United Center North, where the Bulls almost lost to their foes north of the border (Wisconsin, not Canada) — the Bucks.

How? What? Neither team is expected to make the playoffs, and in the case of the 76ers, they’re supposed to successfully secure the worst record in the NBA – in their attempt to get the #1 draft pick next year.

But kudos to both teams – they play hard, and they’re a bunch of young kids who seem to have good attitudes. Personally, I think the Bucks will make the playoffs this year, and they are going to give some teams scares.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune led with this headline to summarize last night’s game: “Bulls are settling in as an offensive force.” He opened with “This is still going to take some getting used to, this offensive juggernaut that is the Bulls these days.”

Remember last year when the Bulls could end a quarter with about 9, or if really lucky, 15 points? Games where they passed the ball around a lot, like for about 24 seconds, with a guaranteed shot clock violation ensuing. And this happened early and often. Late and often. It was a common occurrence.

Now, these Western Conference wannabes have got five or six guys in double figures every night. Versus the 76ers, it was “Dunlevee” with 27 points and The Butler with 23.

Jo said (I believe he was reminiscing about last season), “I remember when the score was 81-76, just fiending to get a basket. Now we’re scoring 100 every night. And I feel like it can get better.”

Western Conference, here we come. But not so fast. It sure sounds good that the Bulls are 5-1. And actually, they should be 6-0. Let’s just characterize the loss to the Cavs as an anomaly. Home opener jitters. No one could concentrate with Cinjo in the house. Plus, there were spotlights and everything. Too nervous!

It’s been reported that a lot of the players are still watching tape to figure out where they went astray. They could have won that one…

But face it, the wins have all come against Eastern Conference “bottom feeders” as Stacey King likes to call them – the Magic, Bucks, 76ers. Oops, am I allowed to include the Knicks in that group? And then there was the one lone Western Conference win vs. the Timberwolves.

But just you wait until early December. That’s when we’re all going to be crying in our Gatorade, as the Bulls face the Nuggets, Mavericks, Trailblazers and Warriors. Kind of like LBJ and the Cavs, who have discovered it’s not so easy out there in the land of high altitudes. Although you would think by now, LeBron would be used to the “Hollywood” of it all.

Since the Bulls are so used to finding a way to win without Mr. Rose, the fact that he had to sit out to continue recovering from the double ankle sprains, well, it doesn’t even faze them anymore.

Most concerning so far, I think, has been the fact that Thibs seems to have replaced his late-night game tape watching with some Dale Carnegie book reading. Pretty soon, he’s going to be teaching seminars and take his new-found positive mental attitude show on the road.

Despite giving up an 18-point lead to the 76ers, and having to put all the starters back in to scratch and claw their way back, Sam Smith reported that Thibs had this to say following the game:

“Offense is not a problem. We’re getting to the line; we’re shooting the three well. I think we have a good balance inside/out. Turnovers, we’ve got to get down. I like us offensively a lot. The rebounding is still a concern. But I am pleased we found a way to win. At the end of the day, that’s what we’ve got to do.”

Later in his blog, Sam Smith said the following, referring to Thibs: “Heck, he’s so jolly and understanding these days you’d think he’s auditioning for the Macy’s Santa job.”

I dunno, I think the world could be ending, with Thibs acting this way, and with the Bulls tied for first in the East with the Raptors…but for now, we’ll take the 5-1 record, bottom feeders or not. Now it’s on to the Celtics tonight (at home). This is a lot of basketball…the four games in five nights is making me pretty tired.

And not to brag, but I did get out a lot on the open floor during practice at EBC this morning. But that’s not hard to do when you’re the only one there.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Celtics.



Next man up, we have more than enough…again

We thought it would be different this season, but thus far, it’s not starting out that way.

Different in that the Bulls’ superstar, DRose would play, players would be healthy, and Thibs could find a new line instead of “We have more than enough to win with” every time a player went down.

I’ve mentioned before that I have friends, who shall remain nameless, and would never read, horrors, a Bulls blog anyway…who I know were just all too “I told you so” and all that when DRose sprained not just one but BOTH ankles at the home opener.

Yes, I was there. At that moment is about the only time the UC fell silent. Here we go again.

Well, when I entered the UC at 5:35 p.m., DRose was warming up, and I’m sure he’d been there for at least 30 minutes already. He finished up around 6:30, and then like the other players, he headed back through the tunnel to the locker room to shower, get changed into his uniform.

Listen, DRose’s warm up routine was more intense than my Monday and Friday morning basketball “workouts.” During those, I spend a lot of time doing Mikan drills, checking e-mail on my phone, drinking my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Ah, it’s probably about 45 minutes total of actual basketball, but don’t tell Thibs.

How can you fault a guy for spraining his ankle? DRose wants to play.

And Jo had the flu yesterday, and they didn’t get into details, but not sure I’ve seen that guy miss morning shootaround, and then not show up for the game. Yes, Jo stayed home in his cozy bed. It might be all about what I’m guessing is a dislike for the post-game bus ride to Thrill-waukee.

Evidently, if he’s better today (Wednesday), Thibs said the Bulls would send a car to pick him up and bring him up to United Center North (the Bradley Center in Milwaukee).

I dunno, but he’s got a bad flu. People get sick. “Oh, but that Joakim Noah, he’s always sick.”

So Thibs has had no other choice but to employ what’s becoming the Bulls’ calling card, the “next man up” approach. It’s worked relatively well in the past. And so far this year, other than reinvigorating the career of yet another backup to the backup point guard (Aaron Brooks), it’s also allowed Jimmy Gets Buckets to become a rising star.

“Aaron, his defense today was his best game, ball pressure, challenging shots, multiple effort, getting into the post,” said Thibodeau. “We want him to play both sides of the ball. He’s capable. He’s a tough guy. You can see it. He’s not afraid to get in there and mix it up with everybody; he’s capable of playing great defense. He’s a big shot maker, he’s clever, has all the tricks.”

“Jimmy Butler,” added Thibodeau, “is playing great basketball. He’s making big shots, guarding everyone, getting to the free throw line; game’s on the line making big plays for us. It was a really good team win.”

And to round out the team win, Pau played 41 minutes, had 16 points and 13 rebounds (that’s a double double folks).

Taji Woo had 16 points, as he started for Jo and got into foul trouble, but he also had two blocks.

Dougie McBuckets had 12 points and Mirotic had 8 points.

I think Thibs’ tie might have been too tight, adding to his already wound-up demeanor, and he wasn’t getting enough oxygen when he said this, because this is unusual:

“I keep saying it over and over about he and Doug; I love them both. You can’t do any more than they are doing. The thing that is great about them is they come in every day with a ton of energy and ready to concentrate and work and prepare themselves to play. When you couple that with their talent, good things will happen for them. They are still rookies with a lot to learn. If they have a good game, they’re eager to come in and do it again. If they have a tough game, they want to learn. Rarely do they make the same mistake twice; they are aggressive, they are attacking. I can’t say enough about them. It’s unusual to have rookies like that. They bring great energy to our practices. And they can play. Usually you like rookies a lot better when they can play.”

We’re beginning to believe next man up, although I guess we didn’t envision Thibs would employ the strategy so early in the season. But in the end, the Bulls defeat the Magic 98 to 90. Somehow, they get it done.

I saw a pic on my NBA stream on my phone the other day of the OKC walking wounded. It was Westbrook and Durant on the bench, in casts, with scooters to get around, looking more like residents of an old folks’ home than NBA stars. Last night, OKC ended a game with six players?

For once, I’m glad we’re not them.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Bucks.

Note: All quotes courtesy of Sam Smith’s blog, Bulls finish strong to deny Magic.

Is this like similar to what a playoff game feels like?

During Cavaliers-Bulls, Kyrie Irving asked Mike Miller if this is what a playoff game feels like.

So I was at the “almost playoff” game on Friday – the Bulls vs. the Cavs at the UC for the Bulls’ home opener. It’s probably fortunate that I don’t have enough time or money to attend too many games, because boy, do they take a lot out of you.

The cheering, jeering, booing, screaming, yelling, taunting. The next day, I was beat, and I didn’t even step on the court.

Yet, the game was everything I could have hoped for. Having attended the Bulls vs. Heat last March, I had already been to an “almost playoff” game. In fact, the hatred for the Heat probably ran deeper at that time. That level of intensity was unprecedented.

Me and DRose at the Bulls vs. Cavs game (Bulls  home opener) on Halloween 2014.
Me and DRose at the Bulls vs. Cavs game (Bulls home opener) on Halloween 2014.

The rivalry with the Cavs is just amping up, and one has to understand – other than Jo’s “What’s so great about Cleveland” rant back in 2010, which caused him to be the victim of the jeers and boos in Cleveland – it’s been rather difficult to get psyched for Cavs games these past years.

The Cavs weren’t very good. And while I do enjoy saying “Sideshow Bob,” as much as possible, and paid attention for the few minutes that Luol l was there, up until you-know-who brought his “talents” back to OH, who would think this would ever be one of the biggest rivalries in basketball? Prior to this moment, there was never much interest. And add insult to injury with the awful uniforms (almost worse than the poor Bucks) – and Bulls vs. Cavs was a game you could actually miss.

Not so much any more, but the UC roof remained intact Friday night. But at the end, when Kirk saved the game at the end of Q4 with Captain Kirk-like 3-pointers and heroics, and even some fist-pumping, well, the place was pretty amped then.

Everybody was on their feet – screaming, clapping, yelling DE-FENSE during the Cavs possessions and “Let’s Go Bulls” when the good guys had the ball. And then there were the two guys next to me – probably middle aged (sigh) like me, and I’m guessing season ticket holders, because they refused to stand up, and along the lines of Kryie, were questioning just what kind of game this was.

Certainly not the second game of the season.  They were saying, “What do these people think this is, a playoff game?” Given I probably bought my all-I-can-afford-is-three-games/year seat from these two season ticket holders, I just ignored them and continued with my cheering, jeering, yelling, and LeBron booing.

Everybody seemed to sprain an ankle (Taj) or two (DRose), and the Bulls forgot how to rebound, but the offense seems to be coming around. The Bulls didn’t get the W, but in the spirit of maintaining sanity and lower blood pressure this year – I didn’t freak out. There’s 79 more games left!

See you in the post-season Kyrie. By then, Bulls’ fans collective hatred will have successfully increased to the appropriate level, so you best bring along your ear plugs, and be prepared for defeat.

While the Bulls played the Timberwolves last night (Saturday), I was enjoying a lovely filet dinner at Chicago Cut Steak House, so now it’s time to watch the replay. DVR I love you!

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Magic.

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