Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose believes that this year’s team is the strongest that they have had as they prepare to face the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James.
Bulls dominate Bucks to advance: (Video) Third highest win in playoff history.
Butler calls out Bulls lack of defensive intensity: Guard say it starts with him.
Bucks defeat Bulls in Game 5: (Video) Struggle continues for Chicago.
The Bulls finally overcame the Milwaukee Bucks in their opening round playoff series on Thursday night, dominating their rivals to record a 120-66 victory in Game 6 to wrap up a 4-2 series win.
That in turn sets up an encounter with James and the Cavs, with the two-time NBA champion responsible for multiple post-season exits in recent years for the Bulls.
However, Rose is confident that that will change this year as Chicago have the advantage of a deep and highly talented roster, as well as having their former MVP healthy and looking dangerous.
“I think so,” Rose told reporters when asked if this is the best-equipped team to face James since coach Tom Thibodeau took charge.
“But it’s no excuses. It’s no excuses. When you’re in the playoffs, the guys that you have on your team, the guys that I had on my team in the past, at the time I wouldn’t have traded them for anything in the world. We was in a battle, we just lost to them in a series a couple of times so we get a chance to redeem ourselves and really go out there and compete again.”
Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinals clash takes place on Monday, with the Bulls 3-12 against James in the post-season with all three previous series ending in five games.
Having lost in the first round in 2010, the Eastern Conference finals in 2011 and then the second round in 2013, Chicago do not have fond memories of facing James although Rose missed that last series while recovering from an torn ACL.
The Bulls went 1-3 during the regular season against their rivals, but the post-season will be a different proposition as the likes of Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol continue to add different dimensions to the team.
Meanwhile, Cleveland are without Kevin Love after he underwent shoulder surgery, while JR Smith is suspended for the first two games of the series.