That's the question for Bulls fans trying to decipher what happened last game. Sometimes the ball just rolls the other teams way; your shots miss, their shots go in, and there's nothing you can do about it. It could also be that they merely still haven't emotionally recovered from Rose's absence, however, we've also seen teams that could circle the wagons when their star was out but fell apart as soon as they knew he wasn't coming back [think Cleveland when LeBron left].
On Friday, we'll find out definitively if "blip" is an answer to the question. However, if the team drops a game by 20 again, we can no longer say "Philly just had a good night and things didn't go our way". If the Bulls can't get up off the mat in game three, then I'll predict they lose the series overall, and we'll need to discuss whether or not the trauma of losing Rose affected the team that deeply or whether Thibodeau pulled a miracle out of his hat to do as well without Rose during the regular season.
One element supporting the Thibodeau miracle element is that the compressed season made it possible for the Rose-less Bulls to catch teams off guard. Teams didn't have much time to game plan for anyone without off days, and so they didn't bend their entire team towards attacking the Bulls at their weak spots. Doug Collins is a good coach, and he's doing exactly that. Tom Thibodeau is also a great coach, but it suddenly seems the deck is completely stacked against them now that teams can game plan for Watson/Lucas.
We've known for a long time that Rose was a single point of failure for the way this team was built. No one liked it that way. Every Bulls fan has clamored for more offensive initiators and ball handlers, but Chicago hasn't had the opportunity to really grab anyone worthwhile in the past two seasons. They went for the big three in Miami but, as we now know, were preordained to strike out. The other options available have largely ranged from mediocre to bad.
Are you really upset over losing out on Caron Butler, Jason Richardson, or Jamal Crawford after watching this season play out? Maybe you'd prefer David Lee over Carlos Boozer, but his numbers aren't any better, his defense is also bad, and he's not an offensive initiator either. After a great start, Amare struggled mightily in NY this season and costs enough more to stop the Bulls from bringing in another five million dollar player to help the team.
In short, I think Chicago recognizes the problem with their present single point of failure mode of operating, but they've found no viable alternatives to it yet. However, Tom Thibodeau did something miraculous. He led this team to an 18-9 record with Rose out. He secured wins against 7 of those 18 wins were against Eastern Conference playoff teams (with wins against six of them), so he didn't do it by purely beating up on chumps either.
He gave us hope that perhaps this team wasn't as Rose centric as we thought. Perhaps that hope is merely a house of cards and Philly just shook the table on Tuesday, but I still believe this Bulls team has better basketball left in them. I think getting on the road in a hostile environment will serve to help them more than harm them as they've been outstanding on the road and will be galvanized together rather than sucked in by the general malaise and depression of the city of Chicago which is still in mourning over Rose's ACL.
I once worked on a project where the CEO stormed into the meeting and declared "You want to know what's at stake if this doesn't work? Your jobs are at stake. Each and every one of you have your job on the line right now". That's where Chicago's at right now. If the Bulls can't fight past a 76ers team without Rose the pressure to shake things up will become enormous. It will show the Bulls were merely a paper tiger even with Rose here, because the cast was unable to step up and overcome any adversity.
If they aren't good enough to beat the 76ers then how can we think they were good enough to beat the Heat with Rose? The Heat have already shown they can force the ball out of Rose's hand or force him into poor shots by double teams and traps. They've proven they can make the rest of the cast have to beat them. If that cast can't beat Philly, they sure as hell weren't stepping up against the Heat.
However, I don't believe that's true. I don't think this team stays down on the mat. I don't think they're a bunch of mopers. I think they're going to rise up and smack the 76ers right back in the mouth, but if not, jobs are clearly at stake here.