As the playoffs began, I wrote that it looked like Bulls forward Carlos
Boozer might be knocking on the (fans') "doghouse" door. After 7
playoff games, it's clear that he's firmly established his residence
there, though we hope not permanently. During last night's game 2 win
over Hawks, Boozer was booed repeatedly by the fans, causing teammate
Joakim Noah and head coach Tom Thibodeau to plead for fans to give
Carlos a break...yeah, that'll work.
Hurt, Bad or Both?
Boozer suffered a "turf toe" injury during the second quarter of the
Bulls' closeout victory of the Indiana Pacers 9 days ago. No doubt,
this can be a very painful and limiting injury, particularly for an
athlete the size (6-9, 258lbs) of Boozer. However, Boozer's detractors
are quick to point out that he didn't exactly shine against the Pacers
before the injury (10 points, 10 rebounds and 3 turnovers per game for
Last summer, Boozer signed a 5-year contract estimated at $75million,
the richest in team history. He came with some baggage, chiefly a
reputation for being injury-prone and a less-than-willing
defender...he's lived up to his rep on these counts. However, he also
had a solid track record for being a near-elite low-post scorer and a
beast on the glass. While his 17.5 points/game average this season was
right around his career number (17.3ppg), he was down in nearly every
other category and his 54.2% "True Shooting Percentage (TS%)" was the
second-lowest in his 9-year NBA career.
Stats Though 7 Playoff Games
Still, one of the main reasons the Bulls paid what they did for Boozer
was the playoffs, where the game becomes much more of a half-court
affair and the value of reliable inside scoring is at a premium.
Despite the fact that scoring is generally down during the playoffs,
Boozer came into this postseason with an impressive playoff resume,
averaging nearly 20 points and 13 rebounds per game and putting up an
impressive "Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of just under 20 in his
previous 4 playoff appearances.
So far has very definitely not been so good for Boozer in these 2011
playoffs. Stunningly bad is a term that comes to mind. In 7 games,
Boozer has averaged just over 31 minutes per game (close to his season
average of 31.9) with points and rebounding numbers holding steady at
the 10-10 he posted against the Pacers. Since he figured to be the
clear-cut #2 scoring option (behind Derrick Rose) in these playoffs, the
fact that he is currently 4th on the team in playoff points (behind
Rose, Luol Deng and Noah and just ahead of Kyle Korver's 9.4 who plays
less than 2/3 of Boozer's minutes) has to be a concern for Thibodeau.
The truth is that Boozer's 10-10 is misleading...he's played much worse
than this. His TS% so far in these playoffs is a downright embarrassing
42.7%, ranking him 10th of the 12 players on the Bulls' roster, ahead
of only C.J. Watson (under 10 minutes per game) and Omer Asik (only 5
minutes per game). He's second on the team (behind Rose) with 16
turnovers, but his turnover percentage of 15.9% is higher than Rose's
13.8% and is the worst among the team's starters.
Assists? Steals? Blocks? No matter where you look, it's bad. When
you roll all the stats up John Hollinger-Style, you come out with a 9.6
playoff PER...4th worst on the Bulls playoff squad and dead last among
players averaging 10+ minutes per game.
My purpose here isn't to trash Boozer, but rather to make the point that
Boozer's performance so far in these playoffs isn't simply a matter of
an 18 point scorer dropping to 10 points. It's more serious than that.
If the total quality of Boozer's playoff game doesn't begin to
at least vaguely resemble the postseason Boozer of old, I believe that
the Bulls chances for a title very nearly become slim and none.
Those of you who attend the games have a right to boo whoever you want.
Personally, I wish you wouldn't boo Carlos. We need this guy to come
around...badly. Besides, anyone who thought that the booing would
somehow motivate Boozer to return to form pretty much saw that plan
crash and burn last night.
This shouldn't be a problem for the next 2 games in Atlanta, but I
encourage all true Bulls' fans to begin practicing their game 5 Boozer
cheers. C'mon, make that "Z" harder...harder, so Carlos can hear it!
Well, it couldn't hurt.