"I didn't even know coach knew the word 'rest', it's crazy" (Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE)
The 2011-12 regular season is over, and the Bulls closed it out appropriately with a win. After their 107-75 drubbing of the Erie Bayhawks, the Bulls clinched the best record in the entire league, and therefore will have homecourt advantage against anyone they face through the NBA Finals. Ya know, should they get there.
I have little to say about the game itself. I saw Scal's long and goofy pre-game speech to the crowd, and apparently he had one at the end too. Between that and Big Macs and a 32-point win, hopefully the UC had fun in what was a fairly meaningless affair. Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, and Kyle Korver all sat out for 'rest' or 'maintenance', and the starters minutes ranged from 14 (Boozer) to 30 (Noah). It looks like Jimmy Butler played well, and that's cool.
It'll be a long playoffs and the Bulls still have a few questions to answer, most urgently Derrick Rose's health. It's something we'll have to see to believe, as he (and his partner-in-lies Tom Thibodeau) says he's feeling great but we've seen otherwise. I can only assume that the very-quick turnaround for the start of the playoffs was reason enough to play it safe, and it's likely the right call. But that still means the question of Rose getting to 100% will linger until it's proven otherwise.
The Bulls are slated to face the Philadelphia 76ers in their first round matchup, a team who didn't really try to win tonight in their game in Detroit, resting pretty much everyone. New York won anyway so it wouldn't have mattered, but the Sixers are looking pretty much all healthy as they get the matchup they supposedly wanted. Too bad they've completely fallen apart as a team over the past two months. We'll get to figuring out how, and if they still pose a threat, in the next couple of days.
Given all that the Bulls have been through this season, their record is remarkable. It speaks to their depth, dedication, and preparation that they find themselves in the same position as last season even though their star player has missed so many games along with many of his teammates. They won't go into these playoffs as the ultimate favorites to win the title, but they're far from counted out, and what they've done so far has been an amazing achievement.
But there's little time for reflection: the road to the title begins Saturday.