Blogtable: Playoff Underdogs

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Week 28: Favorite playoff underdog | Heat’s stumble | P.J. and Vinny

Who’s your favorite playoff underdog, the Warriors or Bulls?

Steve Aschburner: The Bulls. Being based in Chicago, I’ve seen this team more than any other — and most of the time, it is overcoming some injury, mishap, illness or absence. It’s no longer just a Tom Thibodeau phenomenon, their coach stubbornly and without excuse driving them through adversity. It’s the whole team manning up without Derrick Rose, without Kirk Hinrich, without whomever, and new guys without much track record for grit (Marco Belinelli) or selflessness (Nate Robinson) pulling on the same rope as if they’d been in that locker room for years. From Game 7 in Brooklyn to their Game 1 on Miami’s court, the underdog Bulls already have experienced a level of exhilaration and accomplishment that talented, three-star championship teams never know.

Fran Blinebury: You love these “Which of your children do you like best?” questions. Let’s face it. While we can admire and respect the work ethic, the attitude and the intensity of the Bulls, what little kid ever grew up in the backyard or on a schoolyard fantasizing about grinding out possessions and getting bloody fighting for rebounds? In the game of our dreams, it’s all about being Steph Curry hitting ridiculous, unbelievable shots from anywhere on the court, Jarrett Jack being utterly fearless, Klay Thompson getting it done at both ends and everything being played at warp speed. I’d be happy to watch the Warriors play into June, July, August or September.

Joakim Noah (by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE)

Joakim Noah (by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE)

Jeff Caplan: No question it’s the Bulls. Hey, I love the Warriors just like everybody else, but they’re essentially a young, healthy team (Brandon Rush was lost at the start of the season) on the come and led by an emerging superstar. They’re a great feel-good story, but the Bulls have proven time and again to be the ultimate warriors. How in the world is this banged-up and depleted club, one that keeps absorbing blows — a spinal tap gone wrong for Luol Deng, I mean, WTH? — in the second round and up 1-nil on the champs. Because nobody outworks the Bulls. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.

Scott Howard-Cooper: I’ll go Golden State, even with the running start of Bulls 1-0 and Warriors 0-1. Chicago is pretty special at dealing with, or even ignoring, adversity, but is still bigger underdogs than Golden State. The Warriors are closer to the Spurs in talent level, have the hottest hand of the postseason (Stephen Curry) and are doing fine at ignoring as well. The Warriors had more of a chance from the start. One game doesn’t change that, for either option.

John Schuhmann: Well, the Bulls are the true underdog, aren’t they? They’re facing the defending champs, the world’s best player, and a team that had lost just two of its previous 43 games before Monday. They’re a M.A.S.H. unit of injuries and illnesses. They’re carried offensively by a guy who’s barely taller than Sekou. Their best (active) player has a ponytail, wears le coq sportif shoes, and shoots a jumper like he’s playing paper football. And they have the most disheveled-looking coach in the league! This is no contest.

Sekou Smith: This is a tough one. It’s like asking who do you like better, Miss America or Miss Universe. You’re right no matter who or what you choose. I love the Warriors’ style and the fact that Steph Curry can turn a game upside down in minutes with his scoring and shooting. But my pick is the Bulls. Any team capable of doing the things they’ve done, under these circumstances, has earned my attention and the favorite status. Tom Thibodeau has turned the bottom third of his roster into a wicked playoff machine over the the past five days. They’re doing it with defense, fueled by the relentless Joakim Noah and the surprising Jimmy Butler. But they’ve also got the best fourth quarter scorer in the playoffs (Nate Robinson) driving the bus late in games. How can you not love what the Black-and-Blue Bulls are doing?

Lang Whitaker: The Warriors are obviously fun to watch, but it’s hard to root against the Bulls. They’ve got more guys missing than they have healthy, or at least it feels that way. Also, the Bulls have a cast of characters who we’ve seen try and fail with other franchises, from Nate Robinson to Marco Belinelli, so it feels as though there’s some great quest for redemption. Also, it doesn’t hurt that their coach, Tom Thibodeau, looks like he’s being played by the King of Queens, Kevin James.


  1. rolfneb says:

    I would take the warriors any day. they are the true symbol of courage, heart and determination. the bulls have pride so to speak and they have thib. they also already had gone to several playoff games. How about the warriors? its been a long time that they havent gone to the playoffs except for this year. they dont have enough athletic guys unlike the bulls but they still managed to be on top bec. of their shooting. Remember, the worriors are at the bottom of the rankings last year and they managed to even face the spurs at the second round this year. who would have thought for that? give the credit to the most deserving which i think is the warriors..(im not a fan of this team but i admire them)

  2. Karlo Garcia says:

    I would pick the Bulls. If there is a team that had 2 deal with adversity & overcome then it would b Bulls.

  3. mike72688 says:

    Hey Jeff Caplan, I’m not sure why you bothered to mention Brandon Rush, as if they hadn’t lost All-Star David Lee, the man who led the NBA in double-doubles? I know it’s a subjective question, but don’t downplay Lee’s absence in order to state your case. Just say you’re a Bulls fan.

  4. montrealdraper says:

    I salute Bulls from all the underdogs. In terms of win loss colum during the regular season. Their “considered best players” are not playing but still very much of a threat specially to the all stars group of heat. So don’t make RWestbrooke an excuse.

  5. Jason says:

    It seems like no one wants to give Golden State Warriors any credit. Let the blind still be blind.

  6. Don says:

    The Bulls.. They are fighting without excuses.

  7. Michael Menefee says:

    All great points here, but the Bulls are the clear underdogs. What I dont understand is why you guys have taken this chance to comment on coach Thibs’ appearence? Haha that has nothing to do with the subject.

  8. Detrick Harmon says:

    It could go either way with Warriors or Bulls. They sure are proving they belong. Best basketball competitiveness I have seen in a long time.

  9. Big Euro says:

    Memphis are underdogs too in a way. I know Westbrook is out and that helps their cause. However before the Playoffs began who would have predicted Grizzles in the Conf Finals? I like the way the Grizz always stay under the radar, whether you are talking favourites or underdogs, Grizz are always surreptitiously doing their thing!

    • Mr. Real says:

      Grizz lacks stars who always have the ball in their hands during clutch, or whenever they wanted to, but they were never underdogs, specially this season.Even with Westbrook, they still have an equal chance to top the OKC. Just look on what they have already accomplished, especially on the defensive in.. and still improving.

  10. David Goliath says:

    I love what the Warriors are doing, but I think the Bulls take the cake in showing the world what a true warrior looks like. They have gone into a battle that is the NBA playoffs, limping, bleeding, fighting a cold, overcoming fatigue (from playing longer minutes) and keeping a positive energy flowing among themselves and within themselves…even though they have seen so many of their fellow warriors go down. Lose or win…you have to respect who they are and what they do. Hats off to Tom Thibodeau for making something out of nothing!!!

  11. JM says:

    Hey, Mr. Schuhmann, they are not just M.A.S.H. unit, they are a Brancaleone’s Army!

  12. Mike says:

    Before the series started. Both Bull and Warrior have zero chances. Now both of them have 50-50. I say Golden State get more chances than the Bull

  13. Kamote says:

    Bulls showed a lot of heart, and GSW are just so fun to watch… but they won’t the underdogs I’m rooting for.

    Due to Westbrooks’ injury, Memphis isn’t considered an underdog anymore. But still, even if OKC is complete, Memphis has what it takes to beat them. Right now, you have that certain feeling that the Grizz can beat San Antonio or even Miami. They can go all the way. Grizz it is :).