The Bulls players and coaches don’t seem to know they have no chance to win the NBA title this season.
That ought to be the goal, especially when the face of the franchise is the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
But the Bulls players and coaches don’t seem to know how to lose enough without Derrick Rose to make the lottery. Heck, they hadn’t lost at all the last five games, showing zero understanding of the way the next championship team has to be built.
And so, if the Bulls were going to insist on winning and striving for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs -- it just keeps getting dumber -- then Sunday’s game against the Heat would be great.
They would face the two-time NBA champions without LeBron James. This is their only hope of winning the Eastern Conference.
No, check that. The Heat without James and the Pacers without Paul George. Those are the two starting points when considering the far-fetched notion of this season’s Bulls getting to the NBA Final.
The Bulls lost their best player, so other powers would have to lose their best players to even it up, and Sunday’s game was going to provide a look at that.
I realize it’s not a perfect preview. I realize it’s only one game, a small sample size. And I realize Jimmy Butler was hurt again -- he’s becoming as injury-prone as Rose -- just as people were carving his and Joakim Noah’s faces on James’ basketball Mt. Rushmore. (You people have to stop that nonsense right now.)
But hey, there are so few reasons to watch the Bulls that a game against the Heat without James seemed interesting because it’s one of their only hopes.
Turns out, even that’s hopeless.
Creaky Dwyane Wade nearly recorded a triple-double, Chris Bosh popped for 28, and the Heat forced the Bulls into a remarkable seven shot-clock violations.
Think about that. The Bulls had all that time to look around the court and move the ball without James circling and lurking and looming, and the Bulls couldn’t draw iron.
The Bulls out-rebounded the Heat by 10, and still got killed.
You can tell me that D.J. Augustin went 0-for-10 and that was a big reason why. Yes, and I’ll tell you the Heat was a big reason he went 0-for-10.
And besides, if you’re going to cling to Augustin as a big reason you expect the Bulls to beat the Heat and Pacers to win the East, then you’re dumber than the loons lifting Butler’s and Noah’s numbers to the rafters this season.
The Bulls got skunked for the first six minutes of the second quarter and collapsed in the third as if they were the Brooklyn Nets, getting scorched for a 16-2 run.
Noah went off on his teammates for playing without emotion and intensity because “those guys ended our seasons a lot. You gotta hate playing these guys.’’
Yes, you gotta hate playing them with James, and now you have to hate that the Bulls can’t beat them without the best player in the NBA, as well.