With the Miami Heat's 78-66 loss to the Boston Celtics Tuesday night, the Chicago Bulls have clinched the No. 1 seed for the second consecutive year. The Bulls also have a shot at securing the best overall record in the NBA and home court advantage throughout the NBA playoffs.
With that said, should Tom Thibodeau be named Coach of the Year for the second straight season?
It's hard to argue against Thibs. No coach in the NBA has had to overcome as much as the Bulls sideline leader during this abbreviated NBA campaign.
Thibodeau's perennial All-Star and MVP Derrick Rose has missed 26 games this season with turf toe, back spasms, a strained groin and an ankle sprain. Derrick's backup, CJ Watson, missed 17 games with a dislocated elbow/sprain. Rip Hamilton has missed 38 games with injuries to his leg, thigh and, most recently, his shoulder. Thibs' other All-Star, small forward Luol Deng, missed 11 games with an injured wrist and sore ribs.
All told, the Bulls have only had three regular rotation players appear in all 64 regular season games to this point in the season (Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Omer Asik), and if you add up all the games the regulars have missed, it comes out to 97. That's a complete NBA season and at minimum, two or three rounds of playoff games.
There aren't very many teams that could overcome multiple blows like that and yet Chicago is still right there at the top of the standings.
Many pundits have given the Coach of the Year nod to the San Antonio Spurs' Gregg Popovich who has lead his team to the top of the Western Conference standings with a 48-16 record. They cite his relatively older roster and having to play without his sixth man, Manu Ginobili, for 30 games. But with the exception of Ginobili, all of Popovich's regular rotational players have appeared in at least 55 games this season and he hasn't had to coach his team with his best player(s) sidelined for over half the year.
Given all of the adversity that Thibodeau has had to overcome this season, the fact that he has the Bulls with the No. 1 record in the Eastern Conference for the second consecutive season and is vying for the best overall record in the NBA for the second straight year as well, the Coach of the Year honor is certainly well deserved. The only thing working against him?
Nobody was won the award two years in a row. Hopefully, Thibs can defy those odds as well.