Act growing old

Jeremy Johnson

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Ever since Tom Thibodeau became the head coach of the Chicago Bulls, he’s had tremendous success with the team, winning more than 65 percent of his games in more than five seasons with the Bulls.

Over that same time frame, there has always been reported tension between Thibodeau, Bulls VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson, and General Manager Gar Forman.

Thibs got off to a great start in his coaching career, going 62-20 in his first year with the team and won Coach of the Year.

However, over that same time frame, multiple injuries have occurred: most notably Derrick Rose tearing his ACL in the 2011-12 playoffs after a questionable decision to leave him in the game with the outcome decided.

That season, the Bulls went 50-16 before eventually losing to the 76ers in the first round.

In 2012-13, the Bulls played the entire season without Rose, going 45-37 before losing in the second round to Miami.

Last year, Rose missed nearly the whole season with a torn meniscus.

Other injuries have had an impact on key players such as Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson as well.

Now sure, injuries are a part of the game and sometimes you can’t prevent them. 

But it always seems the injuries to key Bulls happen at the wrong time.

This isn’t a coincidence.

Thibodeau’s coaching style is well-known around the league: vigorous and draining. 

That has an impact on how guys perform later in the season, especially the playoffs.

During the 2011-12 season, the Bulls were built to beat the newly-constructed Heat team in the Eastern Conference Finals. 

That was apparent in game one as the Bulls blasted Miami, sending a message that it was their year to be kings of the East. 

Instead, Miami reeled off four straight victories on the Bulls who obviously looked fatigued and out-of-sorts.

If Thibodeau managed his team’s minutes better, there’s no way that would’ve happened with the depth that they had.

He’s done a better job with it this season, canceling practices and limiting Rose and Noah’s playing time so they’re healthy.

It still isn’t at the point it needs to be though.

The Bulls have been inconsistent all year and have looked flat in a lot of their games.

The injury bug hasn’t bitten the team as hard as it has in previous seasons so far thankfully, but they have still looked choppy.

Their defense isn’t the same it used to be, which is shocking due to Thibodeau being known as a defensive guru.

Thibodeau has one year left on his contract after this season; is the end nearing?

Rumored candidates to possibly replace Thibs are Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg and Bulls assistant coach Adrian Griffin.

They’re both unproven at the professional level, so those are paths that the Bulls don’t need to take.

The Bulls are 36-21 and are currently third in the eastern conference, so the sky isn’t completely falling.

Thibodeau’s act is undoubtedly growing old, but the team doesn’t have many other options.

All we can do is cling to the edge of our seats and hope our beloved Bulls can survive.