Playoff time is back in Chicago and that means a variety of things based on which team you’re planning on watching.
The Chicago GOAThawks
If you’re a Blackhawks fan, which everyone has seemed to magically become since 2011, you’ve gotta be feeling ecstatic. 1. Legacy: 3 cups in the last 7 years. 2. New Blood: the young, exciting roster. 3. Numbers: highest point total and top seed in the Western Conference, #2 overall point leader in NHL (Patrick Kane). The Hawks have met the Preds two times in the first round before this year, both years, we won in 6. On home ice in the playoffs of the Quennville era, the Hawks are 11-1. Frightening numbers, and that coupled with the fact that many of the players who have brought success to the team in the past are still on the team make the Blackhawks a team to be feared. Defensemen are key for the Predators, with big name players such as Roman Josi and P.K. Subban headlining the pairings. In addition, they need star goaltender Pekke Rinne to step up and become the save machine he is at times. I’m not quite worried about Chicago in this series, we’ve definitely got the edge in both talent and depth in the forwards (Toews, Kane, Panarin, Hossa, Hartman, Anisimov), formidable defensive pairings (Keith, Seabs, Oduya, TVR) and a goalkeeper who is experienced and consistent in the playoffs (Crow), a major key for all cup contenders. Both teams are pretty shit on the power play/penalty kill so that’s a push. Finally, Centerman Artem Anisimov’s return to the lineup does wonders for the line opportunities. 45 points on the season and a spot on the 2016 famous line of Panarin-Anisimov-Kane is definitely a bright spot Hawks fans can’t wait to watch. All signs point to another deep playoff run for the Hawks, and I, for one, can’t wait. Hawks in 5 with Crow as MVP of the series.
The Gar/Pax Shitshow (Chicago Bulls)
On the other hand, if you’re a Bulls fan, you’ve got other ideas. The team went LITERALLY .500 this season, barely sneaking into the playoffs as the #8 seed. Probably one of the more aggravating Bulls seasons in recent memory, as the team beat top teams we probably shouldn’t have, (Boston x2, Cleveland x4, Golden State x1, San Antonio x1, Toronto x2), and lost to awful teams we definitely shouldn’t have, (New York x3, Minnesota x2, a bunch of other shit teams once). Dwyane Wade is back and the team has played well as of late, but many, myself included, wonder why Gar/Pax are okay with mediocrity and mid-round draft picks. As bad as this sounds, I’d be fine with pulling a 76ers and winning 10-20 games a year if it means making the team younger and stronger in the long run. This of course all hinges on the idea that we draft well and have assets to move… which we don’t, aside from Jimmy Butler, who should not leave Chicago under any circumstances. I’ve mentioned before in a previous blog that every year around this time, I look at the late trend in wins (7-3 in the last 10) and the playoff matchup (mediocre Celtics team), and I think to myself that the Bulls may actually have a chance. Without fail, every year I am disappointed. All that having been said, this first round of the playoffs could have been a lot worse. 2-2 on the season agains the best-in-the-east Celtics, with both teams winning their games at home. The C’s are deep both in the frontcourt and backcourt in terms of scoring options. However, their team aren’t known for their rebounding ability (T-26th in the NBA), something that the Bulls (3rd in the NBA) take pride in (+4.3 rebound margin). Look for the Bulls to crash the glass and pull down big offensive rebound/second-chance point numbers over the course of the series. Then there’s the question of who is going to guard Isaiah Thomas. To that task, I’m putting all my faith in Rondo in his homecoming to the TD Garden. If playing a top point guard in the league at his old stomping grounds doesn’t get the (once) defensive specialist going, I don’t know what will. Plus, I take issue, and thereby despise IT4 when he talks all this shit about him being the best in the league and bringing up how he was slept on as last pick in the draft in ’11. We get it, you’re short and nobody believed in you. But guess what, NEWSFLASH, nobody outside of bandwagon fans, specific player fans (who are literally the worst kind of sports people), and Boston Celtics fans really care. The fucking basketball midget needs to learn is place, I’d love to see him get matched up against Jimmy for the hell of it and see if he can even crack double digits. But I digress. In terms of scoring, the Bulls’ playoff slogan undoubtedly will be: “IN JIMMY WE TRUST”. He’s been the centerpiece the entire season, and I don’t expect him to disappear now. The added experience boost that comes with Wade is also something to watch out for, but coming off an injury that doctors thought was season-ending, he’ll probably play limited minutes, thereby limiting his production. Overall, I’ve got my Bulls in 6 with JB as the MVP of the series. #SeeRed
Chicago is pretty awesome
All in all, I can’t really complain. Its an excellent sports era to be alive as a Chicago sports fan, one that’s rivaled maybe only by the 90’s with the Bulls dynasty. That having been said, I have high hopes. I’ve grown to expect a lot from the Hawks and they don’t usually let down, bar 2016 v. the Blues. Now the struggle begins to find somewhere to watch midwest playoff hockey and mediocre basketball in Dublin. Proud to be from the best city in the world, roll Chicago.