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Record: 24-7 (10-1 at home, 14-6 away)
Standing: No. 1 in the Eastern Conference
Overview: The Chicago Bulls are another young team that is set up to maintain a playoff-worthy status for many seasons to come. They have an MVP leader in Derrick Rose, All-Star support in Luol Deng and one of the game's brightest defensive minds in coach Tom Thibodeau.
Everyone expected Chicago to be a solid team last season, but no one saw 62 wins and a No. 1 playoff seed coming. The cat is out of the bag now, and the Bulls have placed themselves at the forefront of every discussion concerning 2012 NBA champion picks.
Continuing their winning ways from the 2010-2011 run, the Chicago Bulls are primed to reclaim their glory of the Jordan Era.
Strengths: Not to be confused with an R&B duo from the 90s, Chicago prides itself on BBD: balance, bench and defense. As for balance, Chicago ranks in the top three for rebounds (second at 44.9 per game), assists (first at 23.2 per game) and points allowed (third at 88.0 points per game). They even have a top-10 offense (eighth at 97.8 points per game).
There’s no question, though, that it all starts on the defensive end for this team. Chicago has held teams under 80 points eight times so far this season. Four of those games included opponents that didn’t even break 70 points.
As far as the bench goes, they have four players in Taj Gibson, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, and C.J. Watson who could arguably start for any other team in the league. Opponents of the Bulls face a team that can throw two different starter-quality lineups on the floor, and often times that is too much for most teams to handle.
Weaknesses: Sometimes, a player or a team is so good that their biggest opponent is themselves. Such is the case for Chicago. They don’t have a tendency to self-destruct, collapse or rebel, but they do have issues when it comes to staying healthy. Rose, Deng, Watson and Hamilton have all missed very extended stretches that have spanned numerous games. Rose and Hamilton are still sitting out with injuries.
As far as gameplay goes, their team has been a model for consistency, but some players have not. Carlos Boozer still disappears at times as he did against the Miami Heat, and Deng has sometimes failed to assume the leadership reins in Rose’s absence like he did in the Bulls’ most recent contest against the Boston Celtics.
Chicago is the kind of team that needs all hands on deck in order to play at their best. The injuries and inconsistent contributions of some their players jeopardize their chances of success.
Analysis: If the Bulls suddenly find themselves in health’s favor, then the rest of the league will have a lot to worry about. Chicago may not have the fire power of the Thunder or the star power of the Heat, but they excel where those teams don’t, in depth and balance.
Coach Thibodeau definitely has his work cut out for him for the second half of the season. Managing minutes for his recovering players (and Deng who is playing injured) is a task that no NBA coach wants to have in this rapid-fire season.
Also, let’s not discount the fact that Bulls continue to dominate despite numerous injuries and having 20 of their first 30 games on the road. The Bulls’ ability to win without key players and in hostile environments keeps them near the top of favorites for winning it all this year.