The Bulls are coming out of the East if no one gets sidelined to injury. Yes, they should be the favorite over the inexperienced Cavaliers and the star-less Hawks. They have the best backcourt in the East, in former MVP Derrick Rose, and likely Comeback Player of the Year, Jimmy Butler. Chicago also has the best distributing bigs in all stars, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah. The bench continues to carry a “we work harder than you” attitude. They simply chalenge as many shots as they can, hustle for every rebound and loose ball, and they finally have the firepower to get over the hump to reach the finals.
Bulls management would be acting out of ego if they were to cut ties with head coach Tom Thibodeau. They have assembled the best Bulls’ roster in years, where the starters have only played 21 games together entering this postseason. There’s just no logic, nor must-have candidates, to replace a great coach with. They should just focus on Butler’s contract extension and possibly replacing Kirk Hinrich, while Thibodeau and his staff should work to get Doug McDermott on the court more next season.
Milwaukee quietly finished inside the top 10 in several team categories on both ends of the floor. Jason Kidd’s transition to head coach has been smooth, making the playoffs in each of his first two seasons. You can just see his blueprint on the Bucks, the way they share the ball, their active defense, all this without Jabari Parker. The Bucks will be a playoff fixture for years to come, and they will be fun to watch play and grow along the way.
The obvious area to improve for the young Bucks is scoring. It will help to see Parker in the lineup, that’s instant improvement. I like Kris Middleton coming out of college a couple years ago, he has a solid all-around game and is often relied upon as a go-to guy for scoring. Michael Carter-Williams is a standout guard, a former Rookie of the Year that fills the box score. Media favorite, Giannis Antetokounmpo, is a freak athlete that can play four positions.
As far as this series is concerned, I got the Bulls in 5. It won’t all be pretty by any means between this pair of defensive-oriented teams, but the Bulls should ultimately take care of their geographical and inexperienced little brother, so to speak.