(50-16, 1st in Central Division, 1st Seed Eastern Conference)
Hard to believe I’m recapping the top seed of the Eastern Conference. But with the first round exit of the Bulls, that’s where we are. For a team as dominant as they were in the regular season, once Derrick Rose went down in that first game of the playoffs, doubts started entering the minds and so did the confidence of this Bulls team. Now they’re sitting on the outside of the playoffs wondering what went wrong.
But this regular season, so many things went right. They won on Christmas Day against the Los Angeles Lakers, and only lost 5 games through the month of January. Quite the start to the season. Two of those losses came to playoff teams in the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat. The Heat and Bulls would meet a few times in the regular season with implications on the line.
Things kept rolling along in Febuary as they only lost three games in that month, and even put together a five game winning streak and the start of an eight game winning streak that saw them get some revenge on the Pacers with a 20 point win. As a Pacers fan, I remember that one since that’s the one where the Pacers lost it in the third quarter, and couldn’t recover.
March only saw three losses for the Bulls, and it looked like they might run away being the top team in the Eastern Conference and the NBA. Even in April with five losses, the Bulls end up the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and finish with the best record in the NBA.
Entering the playoffs, the Bulls were being penciled into the Eastern Conference Finals and into some NBA Finals by people. But then down goes Derrick Rose, who did miss a good number of games during the regular season, so you would think the Bulls could recover without him.
They lost the next three games of the playoffs, and lose Joakim Noah for part of this playoff series. The Bulls get it together for game five and pull off the win to prolong the series. But last night, it all ended on some free throws by the Sixers, and now comes one of the longest off seasons for the top team in the NBA. Where do they go next year without Rose, who might not be around till December? Can they do what they did without him this past season? Should be an interesting next year for the Bulls, but not one that they thought they would be thinking about so early.