Yahoo Contributor Network
This article was created on the Yahoo Contributor Network, where users like you are published on Yahoo every day. Learn more »Yahoo Contributor Network
Why the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs are overrated: Fan’s view
Two months ago, I wrote a piece about how unbelievably overrated the Chicago Bulls were and how the Miami Heat would dominate them in a seven game playoff, even though the Bulls were winning the regular season series.
Enraged Bulls' fans blasted the idea and many just scoffed at me. They wondered whether I actually watched the games and if I resided on planet Earth, soberly.
A little over a week ago, I wrote an article on the top five teams most likely to be upset in the first round. I had the Orlando Magic, Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs as three through one, a bold choice for the top spot considering that Spurs were the number one seed from the Western Conference and that type of upset has only happened three times in the history of basketball.
Again, most of the responses were from annoyed fans, but there were also some skeptics who questioned my credentials. Obviously, I knew nothing about basketball if I thought the almighty, 60+ win Spurs would struggle against an eight seed.
A week into the playoffs, I don't look so clueless.
Winning is harder in the postseason
Sure, according to their records, the Chicago Bulls and the San Antonio Spurs are the two best teams in basketball. But, the fact is that records in the NBA are not nearly as telling as they are consequential . What I mean by that is that your teams' record determines who they'll play and whether they'll have home court advantage, but it only paints a rough picture of future playoff performance. In fact, in the last decade, the 2008 Boston Celtics and the 2003 San Antonio Spurs are the only two teams to win an NBA championship while also finishing with the best record in the league.
I'd argue that what the Bulls' and Spurs' records actually demonstrate is that they exerted the most consistent effort among the elite in the NBA. If you watched their regular season contests, both the Bulls and Spurs played almost every game this season like a playoff game. And, you know what? Hats off to both of them. They are models of professionalism in the NBA.
If you are a fan of either team, watching them on a weekly basis is a guaranteed treat. If your team is playing one of them, get ready to be thrilled or blown out. And, if you're basketball fan catching one of their nationally televised games, you won't be disappointed.
The same can't be said for some more talented teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. Sometimes, talent can make you bored, complacent and lazy. Sometimes, great teams require revving up. And sometimes, it can be hard to be an NBA fan.
However, the unfortunate reality is that the admirable Bulls and Spurs are not title contenders. And, it's taking an exhausting first round for everyone to start realizing this.
IntagiBulls, meet the NBA Playoffs
The Chicago Bulls are not nearly good enough offensively to win a title. They weren't in the top 10 in offensive rating and they finished 20 th in points per game. Those numbers are telling you that it can be challenge for them to put the ball in the basket. And, if you watched them play a lot this year, you know that. Derrick Rose(notes) can struggle with offensive efficiency, which will be exacerbated as teams swarm him in the playoffs. Bulls' fans will find out the hard way efficiency is a lot more important than they'd like to think.
Similarly, the success that playing playoff-level defense during the regular season brought the Bulls won't be as exaggerated in the postseason because the discrepancy between team efforts on the defensive end isn't nearly as great. What ends up happening is that teams start matching the Bulls' defensive intensity and their average offense is exposed.
That's what you're watching in the Pacers-Bulls series, and it's only going to get worse as Chicago's competition improves.
Grandfather time, give us Timmy back
The Spurs have a different type of smoke screen. Spurs Head Coach, Greg Popovich, knew Tim Duncan(notes) could no longer spearhead the offense. So, Pop shifted the offensive focus from a half-court, inside-out game starring Duncan to a running Ginobili-Parker-led fast-break attack.
But, you know why those fast break offenses are so successful in the regular season? Because they test defensive effort on a nightly basis. If you don't sprint back on D every time, you'll lose. During the regular season, this works swimmingly. The Phoenix Suns laid the groundwork for regular season success with this strategy. But, what happened when they met the Spurs in the playoffs and the Spurs ran back every time? They were exposed as a poor defensive squad that couldn't stop good teams from scoring. That one trick pony got hammered.
That's part of the reason the Spurs record was so good this season. Their offense is more diverse than those old Suns teams', but their reality is that they're older and smaller than ever. And, they've never been this bad defensively. You know what those Spurs teams that won 4 titles in the last 15 years had in common?
The best defense in the NBA and an elite Tim Duncan.
If the Lakers were actually motivated enough to play defense in a series against these Spurs, they would win in five games.
Expect similar results when the Heat or Celtics play the Bulls.
More from the Yahoo! Contributor Network:
Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own sports content.