HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — After embarrassing the Orlando Magic on Monday in an 85-59 thumping, the Chicago Bulls are 10-4 without Derrick Rose, which is pretty amazing. Tom Thibodeau has his team making no excuses and taking no possessions off.
SI.com‘s Ian Thomsen was in Orlando on Monday:
The other day Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy was mentioning to his assistants that the Bulls might be able to win games even if they were missing all five of their starters. “To me, they’re the best team in the league as far as a team collectively playing together, being unselfish, being committed — doing all of those things it takes to win,” said Van Gundy before this game. “They’re the best team.”
Then, without having to worry about Rose, Van Gundy watched the Bulls nonetheless control the pace and hold the full-strength Magic to 59 points, which is the fewest Chicago has ever allowed in a regular-season game.
A night like this raises intriguing questions for May and June. Might the Bulls be able to win a championship while overcoming the superior star power of the Heat, Thunder and other contenders? In the last week alone the Rose-less Bulls have beaten Miami, Orlando and Philadelphia, the other top seeds in the East. Rose should be in no hurry to push himself back from his latest groin injury because his absence generates opportunities for his teammates to grow more confident at the expense of their rivals. “Right now they’re the No. 2 offensive team in the league and the No. 2 defensive team in the league,” said Van Gundy. “You see those numbers, you’re saying [they’re a] championship contender.”
With Monday’s win, Thibodeau became the fastest coach to 100 wins in NBA history. And thanks to the Bulls’ record without Rose, Thibodeau may be the favorite to win the Coach of the Year award again. If he does, he’ll be the first guy in the 50-year history of the award to win it in consecutive seasons.
The Bulls’ record without Rose is not only a testament to Thibodeau’s coaching, but also to his team’s resiliency. Want another such testament?
The Bulls are 8-1 in games in which their opponent has at least one day of rest and they do not. That includes road wins over the Clippers, Knicks and Spurs, and home wins over the Suns and Pacers.
Only seven other teams have winning records in those situations (the Grizzlies are next best at 6-2) and the league as a whole is 102-151 in no-rest vs. rest games. The Thunder are 6-3 in such games, the Heat are 5-5, and the Knicks are 0-6. (All 30 teams after the jump).
Now, nobody will face a situation like that in the playoffs, but that 8-1 record is pretty amazing and an example of just how tough the Bulls are.
Record and efficiency with no rest vs. opponent with rest
The Bulls are also 8-1 when they have at least a day of rest and their opponent doesn’t. Some teams have taken advantage of that situation better than others, and some just haven’t had the chance. For example, the Cavs have played only two such games all year and are undefeated in them.
On the other end of the spectrum are the Spurs, who have played 12 games in which they have had rest and their opponent hasn’t (they’re 10-2), and only four games with the opposite scenario (1-3). Even those numbers out and the Spurs probably don’t have as big of a cushion for the second-best record in the West.
Record and efficiency with rest vs. opponent with no rest
Finally, we present the “No Advantage Standings,” showing team records in games where both teams either have no rest or both teams have at least one day of rest.
In the East, the Magic slip down a couple of notches and the Knicks look more like a legit playoff team …
East standings, games played with no rest advantage
And in the West, the Spurs indeed have less of a cushion for second place, the Wolves are a half game out of a top-four seed, and the defending champs are a lottery team…
West standings, games played with no rest advantage