The Chicago Bulls shocked the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last night, taking their increasingly improbable playoff run to a whole new level.
The NBA is a cruel hierarchy. There are only a few teams that have a realistic chance to win the title, and any cinderella story is inevitably squashed.
The Bulls probably won’t beat the Heat in the end.
But the mere fact that they’re competitive against a historically dominant team at this point is amazing, and everyone should be rooting for them. Here’s what they have to overcome:
1. They’re basically down to six players. Only six guys — Nate Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Marco Belinelli, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson played more than 10 minutes last night. That’s their team.
2. Everyone is hurt. Derrick Rose has reportedly decided to do come back for the playoffs after a torn ACL 13 months ago, his back-up Kirk Hinrich has a calf injury, Joakim Noah has a bum foot, and Taj Gibson has a bum knee.
3. Luol Deng is in hospital bed. He hasn’t played since a spinal tap procedure went wrong. This is where he watched the game last night:
@luoldeng94. Jimmy Butler has played 144 consecutive minutes. He hasn’t so much as come out for a drink of water since Game 5 of the Brooklyn series.
5. Nate Robinson, a 5’9″ third-string point guard playing for his fifth team in four years, has suddenly became a dominant force offensively. He had to have 10 stitches after LeBron smashed him into the court last night:
SB NationThey aren’t particularly pretty to watch. They can’t get open shots, and their physical defence tends to draw games to a grinding halt.
But they are unbelievably tough, and you just don’t see a team this depleted and talented-starved do they things that they’re doing.
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