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News » Chicago Bulls Getting Inside 2009-05-29

Chicago Bulls Getting Inside 2009-05-29

Chicago Bulls Getting Inside 2009-05-29
The Bulls ended the season on a high note, taking the defending champion Celtics to seven games before finally losing their first-round playoff series.

The question moving forward is whether the playoff performance means the Bulls are in for a bright future. The positive comments were flying after the epic series. But considering that Boston was missing all-star forward Kevin Garnett because of injury, it's also possible the Bulls are not as good as they appeared.

Scoring points was rarely a problem this season, but the Bulls' defense was never very good. Young big men Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas still have plenty of room to improve, while the perimeter defense was mostly weak except for guard Kirk Hinrich.

The best news heading into next season is the presence of point guard Derrick Rose. The NBA's Rookie of the Year appears to be riding a highway to stardom. He's a spectacular athlete, he can get to the basket at will and his jumper was better than expected. Rose's defense needs work, but it's easy to see the Bulls taking a step forward as a team in his second season.

Forward John Salmons turned out to be a solid addition at the trade deadline. Beyond that, there are a few question marks. Forward Luol Deng will spend the summer trying to recover from a stress fracture in his right shin. Guard Ben Gordon is a free agent and could leave. If the Bulls re-sign Gordon, would they look to move Hinrich, who would be an expensive backup?

First-time coach Vinny Del Negro took plenty of criticism, but few would argue about whether the Bulls exceeded expectations this season. The Bulls are hoping to build some continuity next season among the players and coaching staff, but Gordon is in limbo and it's always possible some tempting trade offers could come along.

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: The first-round playoff series against Boston might have been the highlight of the entire NBA season -- the two teams played seven overtime periods, and five games were decided by three points or less. The overtimes were a league record, while just one other series in history can match the number of close games (Celtics-Sixers, 1981 Eastern Conference finals). After extending the series with a triple-overtime win in Game 6, the Bulls finally dropped Game 7 in Boston, 109-99.

TURNING POINT: There were a couple of key moments to the Bulls' season. The first was when guard Kirk Hinrich returned after missing two months because of a torn ligament in his thumb. In his sixth NBA season, Hinrich stepped up as a leader and helped cure the selfishness that had begun to plague the team. The other turning point was the Feb. 18 trade that brought forward John Salmons and center Brad Miller from Sacramento. Salmons was invaluable while starting in place of the injured Luol Deng, and Miller brought some valuable experience to the Bulls' front line.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: May 29, 2009


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