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Muller: The Bulls Magic Number: Nine?

By Shawn Muller--

CHICAGO (CBS) OK. So that was no fun at all.

After watching the Chicago Bulls do everything in their power to lose another game to the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals last night in Miami, Florida, the number nine--not three--is the number that popped into my head for the Chicago Bulls…not three.

If Chicago hopes to return to the NBA Finals and vie for title number seven for the first time since the Michael Jordan Era, they must do what only eight teams prior to them have been able to accomplish:

Comeback from a 3-1 deficit to win a series.





For the first time all year--and it pains me to type such a thing--I am beginning to doubt the Bulls and their chances of winning an NBA title THIS season.

Yeah, I know…that is really going out on a whim there with the team down 3-1 in the series, right?

Of course it's not.

But if you have paid attention to games two through four in this series, something just hasn't seemed right with Chicago ever since the teams' 75-point Game 2 performance.

Since that game, the Chicago Bulls…the team that we saw never give up this season…looks as if they are defeated and deflated.

But even more telling than the apparent "woe is us" attitude of the Bulls right now, is the confidence being displayed by the Miami Heat.

The Heat are out playing, out hustling, and out "wanting" the Bulls in this series. They are playing loose and they have that confidence that screams, "We are going to win no matter what you try and do to stop us."

The Bulls, on the other hand, look like a team that is playing tentative, scared, and rigid…almost as if they are expecting things to go wrong for them at any moment…playing not to lose instead of playing to win.

Now I hate for this to sound like a letter of defeat, or a certificate of death for Chicago, but the Miami Heat have come ready to play this series and the Chicago Bulls have not.

For as much as I have dogged LeBron James and his Heat amigos for their constant whining and annoying pre-season championship celebration, they have looked like the team with the most to prove in this series

Chicago--the league "underdog" all season long--has looked like a team that thinks that all they need to do is show up and they will win…something that we have not seen out of these guys all season long.

That attitude by the Bulls may have been able to work against teams like the Indiana Pacers and the Atlanta Hawks in rounds one and two of the playoffs, but it is not going to work against a team with two of the top five players in the entire NBA, and it certainly won't work for any team serious about winning a championship.

Hopefully--with the Bulls on the brink of elimination--they will come out loose in Game 5 at the United Center to force a return trip to Miami for Game 6.

Then we will see what happens in Game 7.

Who knows, the number nine could end up being the magic number for the Bulls after all.

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