A blip, Rose induced depression, or reality?

A blip, Rose induced depression, or reality?

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.


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  • It didn't even feel like playoff level basketball from the Bulls on Tuesday. They just hung their heads and took it as the Sixers set themselves up for highlight play after highlight play. And at the UC! The Bulls have to show they have some fight in them, even without Rose, or else they likely had no chance of getting past Miami in the ECF anyway as you explain.

    I'd like to see some shake-ups. I don't think the entire team needs gutting. I think they still need a shooting guard. I was in favor of trading for Mayo deadline before last and then it was discouraging to see Nick Young (who's been great in the playoffs as well as Mayo) get traded at this past deadline for next to nothing. They put all their eggs in the Rip basket, but the guy is clearly too old and too fragile. Evan Turner stared him down every time before he hit another jumper.

    The time to amnesty Boozer is soon if it happens at all. This offseason or next because he'll be an expiring pretty soon after that. Boozer's been terribly underwhelming. He got some credit this season for staying healthy and supposedly playing better, but I never saw it. Same old Boozer.

    It'd be nice to have another scoring big man off the bench. I'd prefer that to overpaying Asik. A quality shooting guard and a scoring big man off the bench and I don't think this team is in too bad of shape.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    Not sure if this is even possible salary-wise, but maybe they should go after Eric Gordon and amnesty Boozer to make room under the cap. Slide Taj into the starting lineup and pick up a cheaper backup PF.

  • In reply to NateTags:

    It's not possible salarywise. On top of not being under the cap (even if we amnesty boozer), Gordon is restricted and the hornets would likely match.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    My bad, I was thinking he was unrestricted this year.

  • In reply to NateTags:

    I'm not necessarily in favor of starting Taj. He's regressed offensively since coming into the league in the sense that he had a better jump shot in years past. Taj can't keep defenses honest. DRose needs space to be most effective. He can't do that if Taj's and Noah's defenders have sagged off and are watching Derrick's every move.

    I don't think Eric Gordon can stay healthy. His only healthy season is his rookie season. He's been out with various injuries and missed a lot of time. I think that'll probably continue :/. Do you want 1-5 on your starting lineup all with lengthy injury histories?

    I'd try to offer O.J. Mayo 6-8 million a year and see whether Memphis matches as he's also an RFE. They just gave out giant contracts to Randolph and Gasol, though, so they may not be keen to pay Mayo who they relegated to the bench last year.

    But I saw Gar Foreman on CSN before game 1 explain that they have no flexibility to add good pieces. In other words, don't get mad at us, we're in the business of overpaying role players. + the Derrick Rose rule really hurts.

  • Let's see what happens from here on out. I remember in the early to mid 80's Boston and LA were playing each other. The first game of the playoff series, one of them clobbered the other one by 25-30 pts. The team that lost that game won the series.

  • You must not have watched many Warrior games last year, especially after the Bogut/Ellis trade. Lee was the focus of the Warrior's offense and had several beastly games where he carried the team on his back. For some reason, Lee is used as a straw man by Boozer apologists. Unfortunately, the comparison is false. Lee is aggressive, has inside and outside offensive skills, and is a good rebounder. He is still young and entering his prime. Yes, his defense is not particularly good. IMHO, the Bulls would be a much more dangerous team with Lee ins read of Boozer.

  • Another good "speech" thonus but I just can't believe. The bulls were exposed Tuesday. I know thats such a strong word and I hate to use it but thats what happened. Although its nothing new, because we knew(know) the bulls cannot play with athletic teams but when you have an arhletic guy like Derrick who was getting better at breaking those traps teams would eventually resort to another type of D. But now what do you do? Pick your poison with Lucas or James trying to run an offense. The bulls simply cannot recover without having Derrick, no one can create offense on this team, boozer is capable but will he step up? Deng is clearly Not the second scorer we make him out to be. We need him to step up, whether he will or not remains to be seen. See what pierce did the other day? 36/14, that's what Lu needs to do, carry the team. If he cant do that then its over. Can't have JO being the lesson scorer and initiating offense.

  • In reply to insertclichehere:

    Unfortunately deng isn't capable of putting up those kind of numbers like pierce, igoudala has pretty much shut him down. this team is doomed if deng or boozer(or both)can't step it up.

  • In reply to insertclichehere:

    I disagree that boozer is capable of stepping up. Perhaps three or four years ago he had that capability but not now. What you see is what you get. A soft, undersized four who lost his explosiveness around the basket. If you want to argue that he is lazy also I won't argue with you.

    In short, Ben Wallace the second.

  • Defense on the opposing PG is key. He's the one that sets the tone for the rest of his team. CJ Watson struggles against taller athletic guards and Lucas is horrible on d even though he does give effort. I'm not sure what the Bulls do in that situation. Holiday and Turner are riding on alot of confidence and will be aggressive next game.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Why not put Ronnie Brewer/ Jimmy Butler for defense with Rip and SG and Deng as SF? Brewer and Butler are known for their Defense. With this composition, Kyle can play alternate to RicH32 and Deng.

  • In reply to StealthSniper45:

    I'd like to see an experimental line up of Noah at the 5, Deng at the 4, Brewer starting at 3, Hamilton at 2 and Jimmy butler on Holiday. Of course this only works if you have wings that can dribble and run the offense, watching deng or brewer dribble is horrifying at times. I would try this lineup only if they are getting killed by Holiday again and probably for limited minutes to see how it works.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Too bad Thibs would probably never get this experimental with lineups. Definitely a good idea and I think Butler could probably stay with Holiday. It's worth trying...if only Thibs were this creative.

  • Doug, it's simple. Thibs is on trial. All the so-called magic he's been credited for this season has brought him clearly under the spotlight in what shouldn't be a crisis situation.

    He has the same players and the same situation following the loss of his star Derrick Rose and has been unable to reproduce his magic. At least Joakim Noah whom he has killed unnecessarily at crucial times this season, from alleging the fake "lack of energy" alibi when questtioned about it, came to his rescue in game two against Philadelphia. Noah should have thrown him under the bus and let his pet Omar Asik, " The Statue," prevent him from being humiliated at the hands of Doug Collins. They say Thibs is a great coach, so don't let me hear about the players. A great coach makes his players play to their potential. It's the signature of his authority.
    I put the rest of this season all on Thibs. Let's see his genius. He knows what he has, make them play to their potential. What's the problem now? Bulls management know what I'm talking about and will weigh all this when it's CONTRACT RENEWAL Time.

  • Like Thibs said after that Wiz game they lost ... "do. your. job." and they'll win the series. Plain and simple.

  • To be fair, its not all teebo's fault. Yes he is a frustating coach at times with overplaying key players over 40 minutes in regular season games and he kind of sucks at developing young talent like jimmy butler. But part of the blame if the Bulls flame out the rest of this series has to go on management. First loading up on 1 dimentional players and failing to land a second playmaker when they had opportunities like Mayo. I think what will infuriate the fans most is if the ownership/management refuse to use the amnesty next year if boozer continues his steep decline in production. I just don't see it, they'll try to do it the cheap way. Package him with a draft pick and unload him on some crappy team like they did with hinrich. Good luck with that !

  • We can still win if we let "Boozer" sidelined.. The guy can score but he's overall a liability.. Energy guys tends to loose steam when they see someone not having a sense of "responsibility". If Thibs preached and practiced "DEFENSE" they use it to turn up the tide. Defense, Rebound, Hustle and Play with lots of passion .. equals Bulls as 2012 NBA Champion.

  • In reply to StealthSniper45:

    Bulls will not win a championship this year without Rose. Defense, rebounds, hustle, and play with passion will only get them so far, I'm not going to say how far but they have to prove that they can indeed do all of that without Rose first cause game 2 was unacceptable and they should lose a portion of their pay for the bad exhibition

  • In reply to Reese1:

    they weren't gonna win a title WITH rose. they would have gotten to the ecf though..

  • I See all the journalists who take money on the side have voted Tyson Chandler Defensive Player of the Year. Only New Yorkers can pull something like that off. Of course we had people like that fraud Michael Wilbon casting his vote for Chandler. You don't have to pay him off for his vote. He follows the crowd like his buddy Scoop Jackson.

    I'm sure the name Joakim Noah never came up, because his coach disrespected him throughout the year by benching him in big prime time television games. What a clown this guy Thibs is.
    Now he wants Noah to help him pull off a miracle.
    The only Bulls player to get a first place point was Luol Deng. Thanks Thibs!
    Tyson Chandler, who was driven out of here by Scott Skiles is now a superman. Thank Knicks management, they know how to get the media worked up and on their side. They couldn't get a good run in the playoffs so they sold the media on an idea and they bit it. Chicago, especially coach Thibs, can learn a lesson from them.

    Could you believe that in a race against Dwight Howard and Lebron James, the New York Knicks were able to pull off such a feat.
    What is even more eye opening is that the Thunder were able to make so much noise that they were able to get Serge Ibaka to place second behind Chandler.
    Joakim Noah was 12th with no first place votes and a total of 6 points. Thanks Thibs the genius, you buried him early!

  • In reply to SlamDunk:

    The Knicks were the 22nd ranked defense in the league last year, this year they were the 5th. That's all on Chandler. No money needed to change hands, he deserved the award.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    Nice response sucker!

  • fb_avatar

    the bulls are goinf to bounce back without a doubt! i wrote all about it on my blog and have the back up for this argument thgere so come by! http://nbawagers.com/2012/05/lets-start-the-weekend-off-with-a-bang-for-your-buck/

  • I was reading an article by Zach Harper on HoopsSpeak.com and part of the focus was about the disadvantage the Denver Nuggets find themselves in facing the Los Angeles Lakers.

    The subject of Kobe Bryant came up and Harper's problem was making sure that Aaron Affalo somehow remained on the floor to take on Bryant.
    This was how Harper worked out a solution to this puzzle:

    "Obviously, this is taking Arron Afflalo off the floor and he’s the best bet you have at guarding Kobe, even if last night Kobe made him look like some crème to brûlée. The fix could be switching Gallo onto Kobe and hope his length and the help defense can bother Bryant’s shot. Then you move Andre Miller onto Devin Ebanks and let Miller’s butt go to work.

    "(Speaking of Andre Miller’s butt, we really need to talk about this thing. I’m sure if LL Cool J could do it all over again, he’d add an annex about Andre Miller’s hindquarters to “Big Ole Butt.” It’s a big man’s rear-end on a point guard’s frame. It allows him to no longer have to worry about being slow. He can move mountains to the side by shifting from hip to hip.

    "Sometimes it looks like he has one of those flatbed carts at Home Depot and he’s going up and down the aisles with piles of 2x4s and concrete slabs on it. And the weight is just too much to handle on the turns. It’s veering right when he’s trying to stay to the left, like an out of control semi-truck. He’s bumping into shopping carts and coming close to sideswiping people in the doorbell aisle. Take your eyes off him for a second and you’ll find yourself going from hearing melodious chimes at the push of a button to shin bruises a plenty.)
    Ebanks will have the height advantage but there is no way he’s getting position on Miller’s gluteus tankimus."

    Hilarious indeed!

  • Even if the Bulls win this series there will be changes, the desire to stay under the tax dictates it. Rose going down means that we're probably not going to be enough of a winner to test the "pay for a winner" theory.

    The Bulls are in a pretty tough situation though, as much as the amnesty Boozer thing looks attractive on the surface, Gibson is going to have to be paid in another year, so you also have to consider trading him while he's still on the rookie contract and his value is highest. I'm fine with losing one of them and having Deng play more minutes at the 4, but obviously you can't let them both go unless the Bulls can find someone else to play there.

    So what can the Bulls realistically do? I think Boozer has to stay until MIrotic comes over in a year, obviously we have to keep Watson now, so if we want to keep Asik that probably means Korver and Brewer both have to go to make numbers work. Maybe we can move Gibson for a wing who has longer to run on his rookie contract (maybe Klay Thompson might be something that both sides would do? He could probably start at SF until Deng is back from surgery) and if we draft a point guard with the 29th pick then that gives us a guy who offers depth until Rose gets back, and perhaps be his backup once Watson's contract is up at the end of next year.

    You'd start Watson/Rip/Deng/Boozer/Noah but play plenty of small ball with Deng at the 4 and Thompson/Butler being the offense/defense subs for the wing spots off the bench, similar to how Korver/Brewer have been used. Then after this year Watson goes and Boozer is amnestied and you bring Miritic over and you have space under the tax to use the MLE.

    I think it's a downgrade over the current team really, but if we're not paying the tax I don't really have any better ideas.

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