Bulls run out of magic against Nuggets

Bulls run out of magic against Nuggets

The Chicago Bulls had been winning, but the signs of cracks in their Roseless armor were showing for a couple of games in a row. They got crushed by a Denver Nuggets team which they simply could not stop on offense.

My pregame comments summed it up pretty well:

The Bulls came out flat two games in a row, and in their past, this has typically meant a loss is coming. It seems like rather than being scared straight by a near loss, they get more complacent that they'll find some miracle to bail them out. Granted, without Rose the Bulls are probably due for a couple of defeats unless you believe they'd really be 60 win team in a full season without Derrick in the lineup.

They were were simply due for a loss. They were close for a couple games in a row only to get bailed out by a lucky surge, and their luck ran out.

They shot great but failed to rebound!?

So perhaps the biggest surprise in this game was the Bulls shot the ball pretty well. They were 13/20 from beyond the arc, and that typically would spell doom for an opponent, especially with Boozer having a solid night inside the arc. However, this is the Roseless Bulls, they don't have anyone to break things down off the dribble.

Besides the lack of rebounding (Bulls were beat on the offensive glass 5 to 14 which really was the difference in the game), they lost the turnover battle as well. Chicago didn't lose the game due to a lack of offense without Rose, they lost the game because they couldn't execute the fundamentals.

They particularly missed Derrick on defense where Ty Lawson and Andre Miller ate Watson and Lucas alive. Lawson drove to the hoop repeatedly and Miller had plenty of success of his own getting into the paint and then dishing out to the perimeter. The Bulls couldn't stop Denver's PGs and paid for it with a loss.

Aaron Afflalo did a nice job in proving why Chicago wanted him so badly this off-season. Of course, Afflalo was unobtainable as Denver went and shelled out a crapload of money for him, but he played stifling defense and knocked down all the shots when given an inch of room by the Bulls scrambling defense.

Chicago experimented with a three headed shooting lineup for a significant amount of minutes with some success offensively, but plenty of abuse defensively. Lucas, Watson, and Korver were on the court together and the trio were able to generate plenty of open threes due to Denver's weak perimeter defense. However, the trio couldn't defend the Nuggets break on the other end.

There aren't many games where I'm rooting for more Boozer, but this was one of them. Chicago needed to slow the ball down more rather than letting Denver keep the pace wild and hectic; plus, Boozer was playing well on offense in the few touches he had. Seeing his early success, I had hoped Chicago would get him the ball more frequently and keep the Nuggets from getting so much in transition.

Finally, it was a nice night for Omer Asik who was a defensive monster and did a nice job finishing plays inside. He was one of the few Bulls who really stepped up and made a positive difference in his minutes on the floor tonight.

At least Miami lost as well

The Bulls are clinging on to a fragile lead in the Eastern Conference with just two games in the loss column over the my Heat, but Miami went out and did Chicago a favor by dropping a road game to the Indiana Pacers. Unlike Chicago, they weren't due for a loss [as they just lost to OKC] nor were they struggling with injuries.

At this point, despite Miami's loss last night, I think it's unlikely the Bulls will hang on to the #1 seed. They have a tougher schedule than Miami down the stretch and will likely have at least a few more games without Derrick which (obviously) puts them in a position of vulnerability every night.

Of course with two games to go against the Heat, both teams can control their own destiny. While I find it most likely that the teams split the pair of games, if either team can win both then they'll almost certainly win the East.

Despite the loss I'm proud of the team without Rose

This loss makes me cognizant of just how fortunate the Bulls have been to win as much as they have without Derrick. They're 12-5 right now which has dropped them to a 58 win pace while Rose is out. Granted, things could get much worse over the next week if they collapse, but Chicago is very lucky to be in the position that its presently in.

Chicago hasn't lost back to back games all season long [only team in the NBA], but that streak will be sorely tested in Atlanta on Wednesday where they'll take on a balanced, tough Atlanta team while almost certainly still missing Derrick.

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  • MIA has 10 games against +.500 teams. CHI has 8.

  • In reply to insertclichehere:

    Yeah, you might be right in that the percentage of tough games Chicago has is higher because they play many fewer games, but in terms of total tough games it's about the same. However, I wouldn't use .500+ as a barometer to anything.

    When you look at the very good teams I though Miami had a few more. I thinkt he danger for Chicago is that they'll be playign without Rose for awhile so teams like Denver become tough games, but it may not have been fair to say the Bulls schedule is tougher.

  • Chicago has five games left against .600 or better teams. Miami has three.

  • In reply to Gringo Rican:

    (I got Doug's back)

  • In reply to Gringo Rican:

    hahah awesome

  • OK, but not only is Chicago ahead 2 games in the loss cloumn, they are also up 5 games in the win column. Those games are already in the bank for the Bulls, and they are games the Heat could lose.

    Both the Heat and Bulls have proved quite capable of dropping a game to a subpar team! It's hard to keep the focus game after game - or even quarter after quarter in a game. Maybe some mental fatigue is settiing in. Still, no other top team could have missed it's best player for as many games as the Bulls have and kept as good a record. There is a toughness there.

    Get healthy! Even if the Bulls lost every game for the rest of the season, it would be worth it if they were all healthy for the playoffs (which they would still make). Basically, it would only mean one more road game per series, and the Bulls are almost as good on the road as at home.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    The Bulls probably could drop the rest of their games and still finish as the 2 seed.

  • in my opinion it all depends on when derrick rose comes back, if he doesnt come back soon the Bulls will not get the 1st seed.

    I am also someone who feels the Bulls have to get the 1 seed to beat the Heat. I know Miami isn't the toughest place to play but the Bulls need every advantage possible in order to win

  • In reply to Hendu0520:

    I tend to agree with you.
    Home court advantage did nothing against the Heat last year. It seemed the Bulls were out of gas after killing themselves in the regular season.
    But I agree that we should grab every advantage possible against the Heat. It's not just home court advantage against them, though they've split the series thus far by only winning at home. I'm pretty confident the Bulls (with Rose) will make the ECF regardless of their final record, but there's a lot to be said about having an easier path to get there and arriving less exhausted.
    The other argument about holding Derrick out excessively (as long as he's fully healed...did anyone else see that snippet that said his groin was bleeding when he first tore it...ouch!) is that there's a fine line between being rested and being rusty. There aren't a whole lot of games left for Rip and Rose to find their rhythm, and we don't want them going in cold just when the games start counting for something.

  • It's really hard to believe Derrick and Hamilton are going to be healthy for the playoffs at this point. If it does happen it will be an awesome situation, but I'm not holding my breath. Then there's Lu, oye ve..

    Meanwhile, Anyone watching the Miami at Thunder game: either you think the Thunder look like the next NBA Champion, or you come to the conclusion that the Heat really are beatable. It's one game, but still Wade and LeBron clearly were bickering(aka Wade was scolding James who walked away). Their team chemistry does not look good IMO. They don't look like a cohesive team at least on a championship level. Not to me anyway.

    Spoelstra, I know some think he's a good coach or at least legit, but every time I see his interactions with the team or demeanor during games he reminds me of a slightly more competent Vinny. I know their D is good, but Miami's D has always been good. As long as "Spo" is their coach personally I am glad.

    If somehow Hamilton and Derrick were to get healthy, and Jo(whose ocassionally MIA but solid overall) and Taj bring their A game with Omer and CJ and JL3 have looked like they can bring something offensively, this team could knock off Miami. But that's a big If. Regardless, I think OKC is a serious threat to make the Finals despite their defensive ranking. Durant looks legit IMO. If Westbrook had a more reliable jumper they'd be thee Team to beat East or West.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I agree completely on Spoelstra. He might not be awful, but he's not a championship caliber coach. I think Thibodeau absolutely is.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I just don't see Pat Reilly wasting any of the Lebron/Wade years on a coach that he doesn't believe is championship ready.

    Who am I to argue with Pat Reilly about who is or isn't a championship caliber coach.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Spoelstra is not an elite coach. He may not even be a championship coach (let's hope!). But comparing him to VDN is nuts. He's professional (no fistfights), smart (doesn't repeat "I like to just let them play"), and active (went in search of new offensive schemes this past off-season). I've gone to 9 Clippers games over the last two seasons, and VDN is on his own level.

    Pop/Carlisle >> Adelman/Rivers/Thibs > the rest >> VDN

    Obviously there are gradations among "the rest" (Van Gundy, Karl, Collins, etc. are better than most).

  • Side note: ECF teams like Indy and Philly despite their up and down play many feel are teams that could pull of an upset i.e teams you don't want to play. However, the Knicks, that's a different story. Though they've won some games recently(funny how it's always when they lose a "star" - this time Amare they go on a winning streak) But look at Carmelo Anthony's numbers as in field goal percentage and three %. Wow. And Lin is less than 2 to 1 assists to TO's which is awful.

    Also, I know Marshon Brooks was coveted by many, but his numbers have certainly fallen off a bit. I guess it's to be expected with a rookie.

  • It's hard to see how a Roseless Bulls team doesn't drop at least two of the next five games. That potentially spells disaster for the #1 seed.

  • To Gringo Rican,
    "Home court advantage did nothing against the Heat last year. It seemed the Bulls were out of gas after killing themselves in the regular season."

    I agree with your statement. Two weeks ago after the Utah game. I posted: In some ways what Thibs has accomplished the last 2 regular seasons has been "Fool's Gold." Because winning on hustle and greater effort does not translate to the playoffs - where opponents will match Bulls effort.

    In playoffs, when opponents "go-to-the-well" for extra effort they will have plenty in reserve. While it is possible Bulls will find the well has run dry. Has fatigue accumulated significantly? Sam Smith discussed this point in today's column.

    This accumulated fatigue issue, plus the return of Rose and Hamilton hold the key to Bulls post season.

  • In reply to Edward:

    that and starting with far less elite level talent than virtually any other serious contender, not just the Heat.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    your right about the Bulls needing another star level player like Eric Gordon in order to get to the next level but surprisingly, its been the defense that has been lacking the last several games. The defense this year hasn't been sharp compared to last year and that's probably to a lack of practices/training camp and fatigue from the crazy schedule.

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    I think the bulls will lose again tonight to the hawks!!! I think losing deng and rose is too much and the rest of the boys, like boozer wont be able to pick up the slack!! Also i have some great lock solid locks for tonight which make u some nice coin so come to my blog and check them out and even comment!

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