Woj: Miami is still the best team in the Eastern Conference, especially with the relentless injuries to Derrick Rose in Chicago this season. The Bulls have needed much more consistent scoring out of Richard Hamilton, and far less telling everyone in the locker room what they need to do to be champions. Several sources say it grated on some Bulls since Hamilton's arrival in December, but eventually subsided.
The Bulls will have the best record in the East, and Tom Thibodeau will still sell that locker room as underdogs. He’ll win the Coach of the Year again, and he’ll bring something of a personal ferocity into the playoffs. He isn’t happy the Bulls haven’t addressed a contract extension and his relationship with GM Gar Forman remains tepid, sources said.
In the end, Rose has had one pestering injury after another, and privately the Bulls pray he can stay healthy for the playoffs. They can’t win without his greatness. In the regular season, the Bulls survived 25 games without Rose, because they play so hard every night, so well defensively. That’s a testament to Thibodeau, but it’s an edge that gets negated in the postseason.