Nyhlaa: How do you feel about the progression of Richard Hamilton in a Chicago Bulls uniform compared to how his career may have been had he remained in Detroit?
Josh: Really he hasn’t made too much progress from where he’d be with Detroit at the moment, but that has a lot to do with injury. Had he stayed with Detroit, he’d just be another quiet failure with the rest of the team. In Chicago, he’s an absent variable that people are waiting to become a factor. He’s got some time left to make an impact but I firmly believe, as I did when they signed him, that his impact will come in the post season more so rather then the regular season. Last year Chicago had no deep post season knowledge beyond that of Tom Thibodeau and with Hamilton’s experience on the court he can be a real asset in situations the Bulls struggled to grasp last year. His shooting threat ability is a bonus really.
Nyhlaa: Have the Chicago Bulls finally complete the makeup of a championship team? If not, what are they missing that would allow them to contend for the Finals?
Josh: I think they just got better from last year when they were ready to compete for a championship. It wasn’t really that they were missing pieces, although that argument could be strongly made when it comes to Keith “Bogus” Bogans and his offensive contributions. They just were unprepared to make a serious run. We saw that late in the games against the Heat and even to an extent against the Hawks the round prior. They ran out of gas and that’s a lesson you have to learn in the moment.
So to answer the question I’d say they were always in possession of the makeup a championship teams needs, they just didn’t know how to apply it. Now they know what to expect and with Hamilton’s experience in big spot championship situations, Chicago can be taken more seriously as a threat to win a title then they were last year.
Nyhlaa: How big will Carlos Boozer be in the second meeting between the Bulls and the Pistons?
Josh: Hopefully bigger then he’s been as of late. Boozer is the one guy on the team that is a problem. He’s a real hit and miss type of player and that leads to a lot frustration especially since everything he does is magnified by that $75 million price tag he has. Boozer was a magician last year in the playoffs and his best act was a disappearing one. He’s carried that into this season and it’s not pleasing anyone. I firmly believe if Boozer spent as much time as he does yelling and grooming that beard on his offense down low and his defense that we wouldn’t need to worry about him.
Now I don’t want to make it sound like a game against the Pistons is a gimmie, but when you’re 12-0 against a team since 2008 that tends to take a lot of pressure off. However that’s Boozer’s issue, he glides by on the success of the team rather then making an impact and leading. So he needs to be a big difference tonight against the Pistons simply to show Chicago he’s not a waste of money.
Nyhlaa: How far are the Chicago Bulls expected to go in the postseason? Should fans expect another series loss in the Eastern Conference Finals?
Josh: Talking to fans and soaking in the feeling in Chicago, the Bulls are expected to win the championship for the next six years. Fans will always expect their team to win the title each year, but when you have Derrick Rose, the MVP, and the Coach of the Year in addition to having already been three games away from making it to the Finals, the expectations will be through the roof. It’s almost the polar opposite from where Bulls fans where last year. Last year nothing big was expected and then straight out of nowhere the Bulls win 62 games and pile up the awards.
This year the expectations are enormously high and rightfully so. It’s hard to predict where the Bulls are going to end up but it will be somewhere deep in the playoffs. Last year I believed they would sweep to the Finals, as did the entire city, but we were all drunk on the success and glory of the season. That was an important and sobering thing to experience and it makes realists out of us all. That being said, the long winded answer to your question is the Bulls will make it to the Eastern Conference Finals agains this year but beyond that my Basketball fortune telling ball gets hazy.
Nyhlaa: What does Derrick Rose need to do to rebound from such a bad scoring game against the Atlanta Hawks to be successful against the Detroit Pistons?
Josh: That will be key. Rose was nursing that elbow he banged up in Detroit for the past two games and Saturday was a killer. But again, not to rag on the Pistons, but they are the perfect team for the Bulls and for Rose to come back against. Rose will be at home, he’ll have had a day to rest that elbow and he knows he had a bad game in Atlanta. He needs to take his shots when they’re there and not force anything just to show he can do it.
We know he can do it, he’s the reigning MVP worth $95 million. He has very little to prove by forcing shots.
When Rose takes his shots when they come to him, he has good nights. Because when he takes what comes to him he gets the confidence to then create plays when he needs to. This sets off a whole chain reaction with the team where they get infected with his swagger and bad things happen to the opponent. The fact it’s in the United Center makes it even more a perfect opportunity for Rose to bounce back. Detroit’s not a bad team, they’re just not a team that will intimidate Rose into another bad night unless his elbow is hurt more then he’s letting on.