Richard Nixon conducted his foreign policy under what he called the "madman theory," hoping to wring concessions out of his rivals in the in the Soviet Union, China, and other governments forced to deal with him as the keeper of a terrifying nuclear arsenal by convincing him that he was enough of a maniac to act on his darkest threats. Henry Kissinger, according to one memorandum, told a general that "the President's strategy has been...to 'push so many chips into the pot' that the other side will think we may be 'crazy' and be willing to go much further."
Fred Hoiberg has been using a similar strategy with the Bulls. How could Stevens or any coach gameplan for someone who spent the regular season rotating point guards at random, shuttling them from moldering on the bench to starting with the arbitrary whim of a basketball Caligula? How can a basketball coach, even one armed with cutting edge statistical models and video replay, determine the Bulls' tactics when Bulls may mutiny upon Hoiberg at any point? How can one discern patterns and strategies when the opponent seems to operate without them?
Fred Hoiberg learns all about dealing with office wiretaps
There is no way to prepare for the Bulls when the exact composition of the Bulls remains a mystery. Sure, the Bulls appear to have a set rotation now. But it's impossible to say at what point Hoiberg will change things up-- he could decide to put in Denzel Valentine to demoralize the Celtics with geriatric post moves or Michael Carter-Williams to silence a raucous road crowd because they rightly fear that his jump shots can at any time fly into the stands to bonk unsuspecting spectators in their heads and or land in their snacks and shower them and their neighbors with nacho detritus. Hoiberg may at any time and without warning unleash Joffrey Lauvergne, whose main basketball skill seems to be playing as if he was wearing the magnetic prison shoes from Face/Off.
Lauvergne hopes to use this playoff run to launch his new sneaker line
The Celtics are run by a vast network of computers spitting out ideal outcomes and advanced three pointer math and icons of basketball religion that the Sloan Analytics crowd refers to as Assets, and the Bulls are bludgeoning them to death with their big, meaty forearms. No one can stop Robin Lopez, who may be adopted into the Bulls' Society of Alphas if they can find a cloak large enough. Rondo, who is so instinctively despised by every NBA fan that he's been non-rhotically abused every time he touches the ball in the Garden even though he's a bona fide Boston playoff hero, has been systematically dismantling the Celtics. Dwyane Wade has gone into Playoff Mode, so if he thinks he has been fouled but did not get the call, he occasionally deigns to get back on defense instead of whipping out his half-glasses and meticulously typing a formal complaint while the opposing team goes on a fast break. Jimmy Butler is a single-minded destroyer.
How about another look? 👀🏈 pic.twitter.com/hnX54aznkO— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) April 19, 2017
The series comes steeped in the drama of failed trade hypotheticals. The Celtics' and Bulls' front offices spent the days before the trade deadline leaking competing rumors of a Jimmy Butler for Nets draft picks deal to the press. The talks generated thousands of rumors as websites mobilized their content aggregators and dozens perished in the coal furnaces that power the Adrian Wojnarowski tweet factory, but the actual offers remain shrouded in mystery. The failed trade talks disappointed some Bulls fans who see no way forward other than blowing up the team along with relief because absolutely no one trusts the authors of the stop at nothing to acquire Doug McDermott strategy and the Oklahoma City trade fiasco to make another mistake; the state of Bulls fans before the deadline could best be described as pre-swindled. Butler remains a Bull, delightedly dunking on the interchangeable Celtics wings that Danny Ainge was allegedly reluctant to part with for him. The Nets draft picks that the Celtics control cannot do anything in this series because they do not yet have corporeal form-- they cannot be subtly grabbed by Lopez or exchange elbows with Cristiano Felicio and they have not yet been traded to the Bulls to be used on players that some intrepid Bulls blogger will later find have sinister ties to Iowa State.
The Bulls, an aggressively bad and aesthetically revolting team, have fueled their playoff run by spitefully forcing America to continue to watch them. The playoff run will in the long term prove disastrous-- by qualifying they have further eroded their draft position, they have validated the witless scheming endemic to the management strategy of that coach choker John Paxson and his Igor henchman Gar Forman, and they have no chance to advance past any of the other top East seeds. At the same time, this is the most fun Bulls playoff run since a vomiting Nate Robinson brought the Booklyn Nets to their knees. No one, not least of all Bulls fans, wants this godforsaken team in the playoffs, but the Bulls have found their niche, refusing to go away when all the NBA world wants is a respite from their bullshit, ugly, bickering, non-basketball.
The only thing that makes sense for the Bulls is to continue their reviled rampage through the Eastern Conference before their inevitable elimination at the hands of whatever team LeBron James plays for. But because they are the Bulls it is equally likely that they collapse at the hands of the Celtics, going out in a blaze of futility and recrimination while Fred Hoiberg spends the night on the phone with his Blockbuster Video rep to find undiscovered motivational 80s films to splice into his film sessions. The Bulls are a boring force of basketball misery that no one wants in playoffs and they cannot be stopped.