The swagger, the confidence. Derrick Rose didn’t need any replays to tell him Jameer Nelson’s shot, seemingly tying the game between the Chicago Bulls at Orlando Magic (102-99) at the buzzer wouldn’t count. After the interview he said – ‘I’ve been playing basketball long enough to know he couldn’t dribble and get that shot off in two seconds.’
Whether he was just sayin’ or actually meaning that, the Bulls, despite not one of their greatest performances, as Tom Thibodeau put it, especially on defense for most of the night, the Bulls’ bread and butter, the team’s will, heart, grit and crunch time abilities on both ends of the court prevailed and shined. Above all it was Derrick Rose with 39 points and again seeming to will his team to victory, coming back from a 91-94 deficit deep in the fourth.
It was Rose’s 7th 30+ points game out of 13. It was the Bulls’ 19th win in 22. The team is entering the playoffs hotter than anybody else. They also look more ready than anybody else. With their 60th win notched, the Bulls are touching history and MJ territory again. The Chicago Bulls reached the 60 win mark five times in the 1990’s. All those seasons ended with a title, last of them of course in 1997-1998, Michael Jordan’s last season. The Bulls are as ready as any other title candidate in the league for the title run.
They got a bit lucky last night – both with Nelson’s shot and with Dwight Howard sitting out the game (suspension). Still, it was another statement (and a possible semi final preview) that they are the best in the East, probably the league as well right now. They swept the Heat. They destroyed the Celtics on Thursday. This is it. I was worried about them exhausting and falling down in the stretch. That isn’t the case. This team is for real. Their title hopes are legitimate.
They have the MVP’ish superstar. They have the number two guy (Deng) who can take it up a notch and defends among the best of them. They have two All-Star caliber big men (Boozer and Noah) who don’t seem to care about stats and can finish any game with 20-10. They got the role players, the shooters, scratches and big bodies to fill up the middle. I’m endorsing the Bulls. Right now, I don’t see a better and fitter team than the Chicago Bulls to win the 2010-2011 NBA title.