The Memphis Grizzlies hung tough. They played outstanding defense. They scored inside. However, in the end, it wasn't enough. The Bulls defense didn't love up to its reputation tonight, but their rebounding did. Ultimately, the Bulls won this game through three things:
They rebounded the ball (45 to 32 including 18 to 10 offensive)
They knocked down a good chunk of their threes (6/17 vs 2/15)
They knocked down free throws (25/31 vs 22/30)
The Boston Celtics lost, putting them two games behind Chicago in the loss column which gives them a one game cushion. They can now lose to Boston and still would likely claim the one seed. I noted previously that Miami was our real competition for the one seed, and I still believe that's true.
The Bulls need to finish 8 and 3 to stay ahead of Miami if Miami were to win out.
Derrick Rose had an MVP moment again
Game on the line, Rose drives, scores, and draws the foul to all but end it. He did miss his only free throw on the night while trying to close it out after an intentional foul, but shot 12/13 from the line overall tonight.
He certainly earned his trips to the line tonight and was probably robbed of a few more free throws. It wasn't his best game though, the Grizzlies blitzed him on defense while doing a pretty nice job recovering.
Rose only had 7 assists on the night, but he did a great job making the pass that led to the pass that led to the score.
C.J. Watson got screwed on that goal tending call
It caused a four point swing. How different is this game if that call was made correctly and Watson got the hoop. Add back those two points for Chicago and subtract the two the Griz got on the break on the other end, and this game isn't so close down the stretch.
I thought the Bulls got hosed badly by the refs in this one despite relatively even free throw attempts. The Griz got an inordinate number of calls on back down possessions where they were given body contact which is really initiated by the offensive player while the Bulls largely got their calls driving to the hoop and having someone reach in and hit them.
Typically, the type of fouls the Griz got are not (and should not be) called in the NBA.
Bulls cranked it up at the end
The defense wasn't great, but it did come through when they needed it. Mayo did toss in a three to make it a game at the end, but the Bulls had a number of big stops including Kurt Thomas's great block at the end of the game.
The Bulls scraped out the win and Boston fell again to Charlotte. John Hollinger now has Miami winning the two seed and Boston falling to the three seed in their playoff odds. The Bulls are listed as having an 88% chance of winning the one seed by his formula.
Maybe Boston turns it around, but it's hard for me to see that happening given they've lost 6 of their past 10, and they aren't exactly playing tough teams. Plus they're losing the home games. Their schedule actually gets considerably tougher the rest of the way both in terms of opponents and location.
The biggest question of seeding left this season might be whether the Bulls can stay ahead of the Lakers for the home court in the finals. Thanks to commenter Edward who called the league office to confirm tiebreakers for the finals. The Bulls (with a win over Minnesota or Phoenix) would lock up the tiebreaker against the Lakers for playoff seeding.
The Bulls should pull that off (and if they don't their odds of ending up tied are really low), so the Bulls are effectively one game ahead of LA. I think LA loses 0-2 games the rest of the way, so the Bulls have a 1-3 margin depending on what LA does.