NBA Playoffs 2012: 5 Reasons Chicago Bulls Are in Trouble

Brett GeringCorrespondent IApril 10, 2012

NBA Playoffs 2012: 5 Reasons Chicago Bulls Are in Trouble

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    Defending MVP Derrick Rose and his Chicago Bulls currently boast the NBA's best record in 2012. However, their road to the NBA Finals may be detoured. 

    On paper, Chicago has configured the right amount of elite talent and disciplined role players to formulate a championship-caliber team.

    They have also attracted an injury bug that's more infectious than smiling on a WaveRunner.

    The NBA championship isn't a race, it's a marathon. 

    If Chicago wishes to finish what it started the previous postseason, however, it will begin by clearing five hurdles.  

5. Creating Shots

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    Let's begin with the obvious: Derrick Rose can create his own shot. 

    If there was a video detailing how to break down defenses using dribble penetration, Rose would be hosting his own highlights. 

    He's capable of slicing between a Bruce Bowen and Gary Payton double-team like a surgical scalpel through butter.

    But what happens when the defending MVP is sidelined?

    The offensive execution, at times, is equivalent to a fish out of water. 

    Rose's backups, John Lucas III and C.J. Watson, have had their fair share of peaking moments throughout the season.

    Watson, who has started half of his 40 games played, has complained about his lack of playing time in the past—this may have planted the seeds of his reputation for forcing shots. According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Watson struggled while shooting 12-for-44 paired with 15 turnovers in the Bulls' five-game stretch heading into Boston

    John Lucas III emits enough energy to power United Center himself. An injured Derrick Rose even witnessed the 29-year-old lead Chicago to a win over its Eastern rival Miami on March 14. However, even the vast majority of Bulls fans wouldn't expect Lucas to replicate his 9-for-12 shooting performance against the Heat—especially in a playoff atmosphere.

    Derrick Rose not only creates his own shot, he provides opportunities for his teammates. Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer are inconsistent when fed the ball with their back against the basket. 

    However, the duo excels in cleaning up the boards after Rose's lightning-quick penetration forces the defense to collapse.

    March, a month in which Derrick Rose was regularly spectating, was the first instance of Chicago not averaging double-digit offensive rebounds this season.  

4. Miami Heat

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    Chicago natives will roll their eyes at this, but let's be realistic.

    Derrick Rose and Co. aren't playing for an Eastern Conference Finals berth—they're playing for a championship.

    If chalk holds, the East will be a repeat of the same tale from last year, and a battle of titans will ensue between Chicago and Miami in a best-of-seven series.

    Highlights of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James aerodynamically contorting their body mid-flight will dominate television screens.

    Pundits will ask analysts for their pick.

    Some will choose Chicago due to Tom Thibodeau, Derrick Rose (assuming he's healthy) or its defensive prowess.

    However, in similar fashion to last season, most analysts will have their name appear in an onscreen graphic accompanying the word "Miami".

    Fans from both teams will swarm message boards as if they were foreshadowing an upcoming plague.

    The Chicago faithful will type in four digits representing their record. One witty South Beach resident will reply with a "This day in history" anecdote denoting last season's series.

    More bickering will emanate than two rival Irish families in a tavern on St. Patrick's Day.

    If Chicago hopes to win the debate, Thibodeau will have to concoct a game-plan that frees Rose from the menacing defense of LeBron.   

3. Free-Throw Shooting

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    Penalty shots during the World Cup and NHL Finals are fist-clinching sub-stories that leave fans exclaiming to the heavens, or withering in pain.

    Free throws, on the other hand, are the sporting equivalent of Ben Stein talking about the history of cardboard.

    But they can make or break a playoff run.

    Chicago shoots 73 percent from the free-throw stripe, ranking 27th amongst 30 teams.

    The Bulls' inexcusable meltdown against New York on April 8 stemmed from the inability to convert from the free-throw line.

    The bonus can be a team's best friend or worst enemy, depending upon how it's utilized. 

    Derrick Rose already witnessed one championship slowly slip through his grasp at Memphis in 2008 due to not cashing in at the charity stripe.

    This Chicago team contains the same liability that would allow history the opportunity to repeat itself. 

2. Recent Performances at Home

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    Winning at home in essential during a grueling NBA postseason. 

    In its last 10 games at the United Center, Chicago is 7-3. 

    To put that into perspective, five other squads in the East have outperformed their Windy City counterparts: Boston (9-1), New York (9-1), Miami (9-1), Detroit (8-2), and Atlanta (8-2).

    Within that time-span, the Bulls have lost to Houston and Denver who are both struggling to stay within the outskirts of the NBA playoff picture.

    Chicago has also fallen to Portland and New Jersey—two teams that will be scouting potential lottery picks once the postseason tips off.   

1. Injuries

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    If Chicago wins its first championship since Michael Jordan left town, photographer's flashes will illuminate Derrick Rose as he hoists the Finals MVP trophy. 

    Rose is the only player on the Bulls roster that demoralizes defenses, leaving them in shambles as head coaches shake their head in disbelief while he struts to the free-throw line.

    He is also ailing from injuries. A lot

    Derrick Rose has been absent from 22 games this season—more than a third.

    C.J. Watson has remained on the sideline for 17 matchups, while Richard Hamilton has only walked on the court for 19 of the 57 total games.

    Chicago's ankle-breaking All-Star point guard has missed action due to injuries ranging from back spasms to tweaked ankles.

    The Bulls, however, are deep enough to potentially reach the Eastern Conference Finals with a banged up MVP.  

    But if Chicago hopes to beat the Heat, it will rely on a wilting Rose that has a history of thorns in its side.