Bulls vs. Sixers, 2012 NBA Playoffs: Will Bulls show heart in potential elimination game? Or have they been doing so all along?

I don't know what to expect tonight when the Bulls host a Sixers team who can potentially close out the series. The fact that the Sixers aren't very good throws a wrench in any confidence of prognostication. They could very easily lay an egg and the Bulls get a ton of rebounds and it's a fun night. But if it's anything like what we've seen so far without Joakim Noah: the Bulls need a very big late lead so their lack of scoring doesn't kill them yet again.

And if they lose, will you think they had given up? Right after Rose's injury, I questioned whether believing this team could still go far in the playoffs means being frustrated if they didn't. And though Joakim Noah's injury wasn't foreseen then, neither was potentially losing 4 straight games in such an ugly fashion, either.

And in anticipation of that potential post-Rose sweep, the questions come out about the Bulls mental fortitude. Will they 'show pride' or be 'embarrassed', have they 'psychologically snapped', are they exposed as 'frauds'?

I haven't seen a team that isn't still playing hard. And saying so obscures what can be real things learned about the limitations of the roster's ability, not their effort. How difficult it is for them to create space, how only Rose was capable of getting reliable offense against a keyed-in playoff defense, how Rip Hamilton couldn't beat out Kyle Korver for a closer's role.

It's one thing to say that the Bulls effort advantage they earned all season is mitigated in the playoffs, but it's not because they're giving less. Any fraudulence displayed by a 4-game losing streak in the playoffs will be lessons about how the team was constructed, not because they didn't try. I think it's a more scary proposition that this is them trying, and what it looks like when the other team does as well.

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