Column: Playoffs? You talkin’ about Playoffs?

By Jacob Bressler

Well, the NBA regular season is finally over.

These are words I wish I could have uttered in January.

There is an old adage that the season is a marathon rather than a sprint. The NBA regular-season campaign feels like hundreds of marathons, one after another, with no Kenyans in sight to set any world records.

In the regular season, some stars take plays, quarters, or even games off. Besides Bulls, did any squad actually play team defense this year?

The playoffs always provide fans with a certain level of excitement and a true test as to who the elite players in the league are.

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    Usually, in the postseason, certain players step into the spotlight and become fearless playmakers when the game or series is on the line. Sometimes, these guys aren’t even stars – see Robert Horry and John Paxson in their heydays.

    The quicker these “money” players can be assembled and appreciated, the better. They are so money they don’t even know.

    It appears as if the Chicago Bulls have found a few of these clutch players very early on in their careers.

    Before we get ahead of ourselves, these Bulls have only won one measly playoff game, a 103-94 beating of the Washington Wizards on Sunday.

    On the Bulls radio post-game, a few callers suggested that a title could be in store for this team next year assuming that center Eddy Curry is healthy.

    Let’s not get carried away here people – it took Michael, Scottie and Horace four seasons to gel together before they lifted the Larry O’Brien trophy in the visitor’s locker room at the Great Western Forum.

    Nonetheless, I have a strong feeling that rookies Ben Gordon, Chris Duhon and Andres Nocioni will all be major contributors for years to come for the Bulls in the playoffs.

    Gordon is a star – a Ray Allen-type scorer who only needs a sliver of room off a screen to hoist his high-arching jump shot. He already has so much confidence that he will keep shooting, even if he is having an off night.

    Duhon has been a pleasant surprise after being drafted in the second round. His defense, handling of the rock and distribution have not gone unnoticed. He is a solid compliment to all-star caliber guards Gordon and Kirk Hinrich.

    As far as Nocioni, it just looks as if he “gets it” after his incredible 25 point, 18 rebound performance in game one.

    He understands the importance and urgency of the playoffs and flat out wanted to win that game more than any other player on the court, especially Wizards’ guard Gilbert Arenas, who cried about “Noche” being a dirty player.

    Hey Gilbert, score more than nine points in a playoff game and then maybe we’ll listen to your unjustified accusations of Noche’s aggressive style of play, one which is sorely lacking in the league.

    One thing is clear: Nocioni is not as physically talented as most other players, but he makes up for it by being a complete madman on the court.

    If Nocioni were on the MTV’s Real World, he would probably be kicked out of the house for making too much noise at 6 a.m. when the roommates had to get up early for work.

    It will be interesting to see how much of a raucous these Baby Bulls can cause in their first year in the postseason.