It's no secret that the Celtics have been struggling to close out games against teams they should be defeating. While dropping games to the likes of the Clippers, Sixers, Nets, Pacers, Rockets Grizzlies and Bobcats, they have watched the Chicago Bulls stampede their way to the top of the Eastern Conference standings. But has going all out for that top seed come with a price for the Bulls?
Rajon Rondo's sprained pinkie has been well documented and discussed. The O'Neal brothers have been in an incessant injury-pending-vortex all season long but might, just might return soon. The good news is that other than Rondo's finger, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are all relatively healthy and much healthier than at this point last season. While taking a glance to the central time zone, it's possible that the Bulls are going a little too hard for that top seed.
Check out this post over at Blogabull.com, where all of the little nagging injuries may be catching up to the full throttle approach:
Oh, that Thibs. It's one loss, but not the first sign of slippage from his Bulls, and he is going to what he knows most: practice.
Mike McGraw had some interesting quotes from Thibsand reactions from the players post-game after the Sixers loss. And what's even better than having a demanding coach is having team willing to take that direction: Thibodeau says that the morning shootaround didn't go well, and Rose says he'll do better. Thibs says Luol may have had poor games due to missing practice lately, and Luol agrees that he needs practice to play in rythym (full Luol sound here).
Poor Deng, guy plays every night for 40 minutes, and gets called out for missing a practice or two. Meanwhile, Taj is wearing a monster-shoe on one foot to accommodate his turf toe, and Joakim Noah tweaked his ankle. Even the franchise is banged up.
The demands of Thibs is an increasingly fascinating balance, but as long as the wins are coming,there's no worries. And with a fairly comfortable lead for the #1 seed going into an easy first-round matchup, maybe it'll be a rare time for the Bulls to not only hone their game, but get a bit healthier in the process.
Mike McGraw, who covers the Bulls for the Daily Herald, also recently tweeted this after the Bulls lost to the Sixers:
I'm willing to bet that a solid 80% of NBA players have one or several jammed fingers at this point in the season, but it's still notable, especially if Rondo's sprained pinkie is worthy of discussion. As an added bonus, Joakim Noah was questionable for tonight's game against the Timberwolves, but has decided to play. KC Johnson, who covers the Bulls for the Chicago Tribune, has the following two updates to offer:
Obviously every team is tired, beat-up and dealing with minor injuries here and there. Let's see if going all out for the top seed forces the Bulls to get beat up just a bit more.