So we're finally here again. Has it really been 5 years since the Bulls played in the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals and it felt like we were going to be in it every year?
A lot has changed, a lot of new faces, and some rumors of familiar faces leaving.
If there is one optimistic/delusional thing that I can hold on to, it is the fact that the organization, including the coaching staff, despite the public appearance or perception has taken a very conservative approach to handling injuries. In past seasons, players have fought through injuries to win regular season games, only to have those injuries reduce their effectiveness in the playoffs. Keep in mind that the Bulls still won 50 games this season.
All that matters now is how well they do in the playoffs. Realistically, the minimum expectation is to advance easily out of the first round. Optimistically, it will be to compete and possibly beat the presumed best team in the East in the second round, if both teams advance. After that, anything is possible!
Here's some player projections/notes going into Round 1.
(Disclosure: Updated to add Taj!)
Sorry for the radio silence, but we're back!
Let's start off with some quick predictions for Round 1.
#1 Golden State vs #8 New Orleans - Golden State in 5
Expect Anthony Davis to make a statement in this series, and to help steal a game in New Orleans.
#2 Houston vs #7 Dallas - Houston in 7
Coaching will keep Dallas in this series, but despite the injuries, Houston should prevail.
#3 Los Angeles Clippers vs #6 San Antonio - San Antonio in 7
Will the difference in home court ultimately make a difference here? Tough to pick against San Antonio as they have been playing at a high level going into the playoffs.
#4 Portland vs #5 Memphis - Memphis in 6
Without Wes Matthews, Portland has been at a disadvantage. Memphis should be able to close this out in fairly bland fashion.
#1 Atlanta vs #8 Brooklyn - Atlanta in 4
I expect low ratings and low highlights in this series.
#2 Cleveland vs #7 Boston - Cleveland in 5
Could Boston steal a game 3 or 4 at home? The first two games in Cleveland will not be pretty.
#3 Chicago vs #6 Milwaukee - Chicago in 5
My initial instinct suggests that this will be a sweep. The casual fan impression is that this will be a defensive struggle. The reality is that the Bucks are strong at defense, weak at offense. The Bulls are strong at defense and offense this season. Presuming full strength, the series will be fun and competitive and over in 5 or less games.
#4 Toronto vs #5 Washington - Toronto in 7
Will Washington rediscover their playoff magic from last season? Both teams have higher expectations than last season's playoff appearances, but one of these two will be going home unhappy.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch decided to immediately release as much evidence as possible to the general public immediately after the decision not to indict Darren Wilson:
Was this an attempt to be completely transparent? Or cynically, was this an attempt to further step away for taking responsibility for the duties of his office? Rather than make the decision and have it clearly on his office, and largely him, he offloaded it to a grand jury who we will never meet. Additionally, by releasing the information to people that don't typically look at this information, and allowing them to make their own decisions, it increases the amount of noise on the discussion, further diluting his role in all of this. That's the cynical way to look at it.
One piece from the packet of interest, is Darren Wilson's testimony.
After 108 days, tonight will mark the hopeful beginning of the healing process for the community of Ferguson. The Ferguson grand jury has made a decision in whether to pursue a criminal indictment of Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.
No matter where you stand on this, tonight's response to the decision will come down to a matter of trust.
Does the community trust that the grand jury was impartial, fair and thorough in its decision?
Does local and state law enforcement trust that people will peacefully express their freedom of speech, no matter the result, no matter the presence of the National Guard?
Does anyone trust the decision making process that allowed the announcement to be made at night? Low light and visibility appears to favor those that will abuse their rights to protect or protest under the cover of darkness and the shadows of chaos.
I hope and pray for the best. I still trust that people feel the same as I do.
Derrick Rose recently did an interview with ESPN where he talked about his return from his second major injury has been going and his affect to his game.
From the article:
"I'm good, man," Rose said. "I felt like I've been managing myself pretty good. I know a lot of people get mad when they see me sit out or whatever, but I think a lot of people don't understand that ... when I sit out it's not because of this year.
"I'm thinking about long term. I'm thinking about after I'm done with basketball. Having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to, I don't want to be in my meetings all sore or be at my son's graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past. [I'm] just learning and being smart."
Many people did NOT like hearing this at all for various reasons. Sports radio, social media and various columnists like notorious ranter Steve Rosenbloom were ready to share their opinions on him, particularly as a person.
To me, you call it what you will, but I'll call it what it is, hypocrisy.
We interrupt our normal topics to cover something important. There is a fellow named Julien Blanc that normally would not be known outside a smaller group of people, that gained some viral notoriety through a video that has been spreading through the Internet:
He's known as a pickup artist (PUA) and someone that runs a company that teaches his take on PUA principles. By its wiki definition, the intent is sexual relations.
Many men haven't developed the social charms or skills in meeting women. The PUA community has developed around helping each other understand how to get better at it. It broke into the mainstream due to the publishing of The Game. Once it broke into the mainstream, more and more men and women have emerged to help / "help" men pick up or meet women through videos, blogs and of course paid courses or workshops.
At its best, the goals and principles of PUA is how to better connect with and date women that you are interested in. It teaches and encourages confidence and helping those who may be socially awkward on how to get out of their own way. Truly listening, connecting, reading body language, respecting verbal and non-verbal cues and ultimately looking at women as people. In most cases, it makes no promises that you can have any woman that you want. But that you can be more comfortable and confident in going up to talk to any woman that you want.
The Bulls open the 2014-2015 season in New York tonight.
What's in store for our team this year?
With the season tipping off in the next hour or so, let's get in some quick predictions for the season.
There was the first steps toward closure today when the family of Michael Brown was able to hold a funeral for him today.Of course, there is still a lot that will still happen in the next couple of weeks and months that will hopefully bring closure and justice for everyone that's been affected: the family of Michael Brown, the police officer involved and his family, the community of Ferguson, the county police and the St Louis area.