Bulls should embrace new playoff role

Inside the Chicago Bulls locker room after the final game of the regular season Wednesday there seemed to be a sense of relief that co-existed with a sense of excitement, confidence and calm.

Rip Hamilton joked with Luol Deng. Taj Gibson checked his cell phone while speaking openly to the media about going up against his hometown team, the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs. Nate Robinson spit Jordan sneakerology to Malcolm Thomas. Marquis Teague ate chicken wings. Tom Thibodeau left the postgame podium with a half-smile on his face.

When I told him that he didn't even look nervous going into the playoffs, the half smile went full. Saying, "Man, I'm aways nervous." Then he walked away.

So now that they're here, excuse me, we're (because we are kinda all in this together, aren't we?) here; now that we can finally put this impossible-to-figure-out, oft-times schizophrenic regular season behind us; now that we avoided going up against the Pacers to open the playoffs (Indiana is on a mission, Brooklyn not so much), what can we expect from this team that at times this season has been the Eastern Conference version of the Lakers?

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