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SportsMonday: A Bulls Wet Blanket

I'm afraid I'll have to deploy a wet blanket today. I usually avoid it but a sports fan needs to have one around, you know, in case of fire.

And a team should definitely keep firefighting materials handy when it employs Joakim Noah. He has to be the absolute No. 1 candidate in the sports world for suffering spontaneous combustion.

I'm drenching a comforter in the aftermath of Sunday's Bulls win not to point out for the millionth time that what the Bulls are doing is nice but they'll still lose to Miami in the playoffs. No, there are thousands of cynical NBA fans who have that task taken care of.
I'm dousing the flames of irrational confidence in light of the fact that while the Bulls' run since the start of the year has been nice (they've had the best record in the NBA since Jan. 1), their primary identity is still that of a lucky Eastern Conference club. Here, they are a game out of the third spot in the conference standings.

In the West, they'd still be a few games out . . . of the playoffs.

As hot as the Bulls (35-28) have been, the Toronto Raptors have been a bit hotter of late. Their 35-26 record is good for third behind the Pacers (46-17) and the Heat (43-17). In the West, on the other hand, the Grizzlies (who knocked off the Bulls in Chicago last Friday) and the Suns are deadlocked for the final playoff spot. They are both 36-26.

So while it was great to see the Bulls persevere against the Heat in overtime, the home team is still mediocre at best in the big picture.

I also feel compelled to cast a skeptical eye on the Bulls' latest transaction. The Jimmer Fredette signing simply didn't make much sense. There is no way Fredette will play good enough defense before the end of the year. Barring injury (and I guess with the Bulls at this point we have to take that into account every single day), he will not be entering the Bulls' primary rotation in time for the postseason.

In fact, this transaction was a shame. By all accounts, Fredette is one of those who can truly shoot the lights out, even against average NBA defenses. And while he has deficiencies, the shooting is good enough to make him attractive to teams in the aftermath of his run in Sacramento.

Wouldn't it have been cool if Fredette had signed with one of the decent but not great teams on the fringe of the playoffs who do not have a mantra of "Defense first, second and always?"

In the days leading up to Fredette signing with the Bulls, a fan could dream of a scenario where the former BYU star signed with a team that gave him the same sort of opportunity the Knicks gave Jeremy Lin. Fredette would have had a chance to fire away from way beyond the arc without hesitation for 25, 30, 35 minutes night after night.

It could have been Jim-sanity. Actually, Lin had considerably more time with his team leading up to Lin-sanity. At this relatively late moment in this season, Fredette probably wasn't going to electrify the league like the Harvard point guard did in Gotham two seasons ago.

But it felt possible. Now, it will almost certainly take an injury for Fredette to make a meaningful basketball mark in Chicago over the next few months. And while coach Tom Thibodeau has performed a series of miracles with his Bulls during the past few years, I don't think even he will be able to lead the Bulls to a playoff series victory this time around if there is another big injury.

Anyway, the Bulls are back in action tomorrow night against the Spurs. As long as Joakim Noah doesn't play with actual fire at some point in the next 36 hours, it should be a fun game. Just keep an extinguisher handy.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

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