Bulls at 76ers noon on ABC - Now or never looks more like never

The Chicago Bulls take on the 76ers in game four of their first round matchup today at noon. If they drop this game and fall down 1-3 then it's all but over, that is, if you don't feel it's all but over already. Adding to the misery of the Bulls loss of Derrick Rose for the next 6-9 months due to ACL surgery the Bulls lost Joakim Noah to what looked like a severe ankle sprain in game three.

Chicago dropped game three despite doing everything it could possibly hope to do in order to win. They won the rebounding battle, they held Philly to a ridiculously low shooting percentage and built up a huge fourth quarter lead. Then they watched it all slip away.

Chicago was outcoached

I've been harping on this point for much of this series, but what the hell are the Bulls doing with John Lucas? I love Tom Thibodeau as coach, much like I loved Scott Skiles. I always thought Skiles had some crazy blind spot for playing Chris Duhon, and Tom Thibodeau seems to have developed a similar one for John Lucas.

C.J. Watson was playing scared last game. However, he was pushing the ball up the floor and getting it into the hands of the rest of the team. The result was the Bulls had reasonable ball flow and got reasonable looks at the basket. C.J. Watson checked out with about two minutes of the third period remaining and an eight point lead. He was +8 overall on the night. John Lucas was +0 so far on the night.

Lucas then finished the game -13 after single handedly blowing this game for Chicago. He continued to fall victim to the same trend I've pointed out for several games. He spent possession after possession after possession pounding the entire shot clock off the ball and then forcing the Bulls into a terrible shot. The Bulls don't have a bunch of bad shot makers on this team, so they didn't make any of these, and the 76ers went on to roll the Bulls.

What's going to change?

The Bulls now have the same problems they had in games 1 and 2, but they no longer have the same strengths without Joakim Noah, who will likely miss the rest of the series. Tom Thibodeau has let John Lucas completely screw up the game, and seemed to have tunnel vision on the move refusing to go back to Watson who was at least finding better offensive looks for the team.

The goal for Chicago will be the same as it has the past few games. Get into the offense earlier, move the ball, play tough defense, win the rebounding battle, limit turnovers. Can they execute the formula better this time around? Perhaps, perhaps not.

The closest you can be after three games is 2-1

It feels hopeless right now, but a win puts the Bulls right back in this thing at 2-2. I don't think the Bulls will win, nor do I think they can win the series even if they get to 2-2. The team looks like its mentally done. They failed to take a game the 76ers gift wrapped for them in game three, so it's tough to see them making an even better run without Noah.

Bulls fans ready to turn the page, are the Bulls?

I'm getting fewer comments and tweets about the actual game and more and more about what the Bulls should do in the off-season. We'll have a long, long time to discuss what went wrong in the post mortem for this season over the summer, so I'm going to defer on most of that discussion until after the Bulls are eliminated.

However, it shows that Bulls fans have already quit on this team, and after the past two games, I can't blame them. It's now up to the players to prove us wrong. It's up to the players to dig deep and find a win today. It's up to the players to show some pride and not get swept out of this thing as soon as Rose went down.l

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  • CJ's injury problems have to have been why he didn't play in the 4th. I can't think of any other explanation. He wasn't even put in as part of the three-point lineup which tried to tie the game at the end, despite being our best three-point shooter outside of Korver. CJ must be a lot more hurt than we realise (I read one of the Bulls beat writers say something to that effect). My guess is he can't play unless he has time to warm up (i.e. at the start of games or after halftime). Still, bringing in Mike James would have been a better option than using JLIII for the whole of the 4th.

    There was another player apart from JLIII who should not have been on the floor at the end of the game: Carlos Boozer. The Bulls offense was poor at the start of the 4th but defense and Taj's offensive rebounds were keeping us in it. Then Boozer comes in with eight minutes to go and the Bulls holding a nine point lead. He goes 1-6 from then on and displays his usual lack of defensive effort. Sixers win. Boozer finishes -13 for the game, Taj finishes +8.

  • True enough Lucas has dribbled the shot clock time away, but let's not put the blame on him. The Bulls have players that can't make shots, plain and simple. This is the very reason why I have been complaining about this teams offensive for the past couple years. The Bulls offensive absolutely STINKS!!! Because they have one player that knows how to score efficiently and he's out with a serious knee injury. I agree that Thibs need to stop using Lucas so much in the game. Why the hell have they let Mike James contract expire time after time after time after time only to keep bringing him back and then not use him. I'm sure he would be a little bit better than Lucas. And now That Noah is probably done for the series, or at least he should be, this Bulls team is done. There's no way they beat the Sixers with the players that the Bulls have left with the way they have been shooting and absolutely collapsing in the last 2 game in the second half. But the bottom line however about this Bulls team, they are a team that has always had no good scorers besides Rose and now this is the very thing that will be there downfall. I will keep saying this time after time after time... THE BULLS NEED MORE SCORERS, THE BULLS NEED MORE SCORERS, THE BULLS NEED MORE SCORERS!!! How they go about it this off season, management and the Bulls cheap ass owner better get creative cause next year will be a down year with Rose and Deng being out the first part of the season. I absolutely admire the Thunder because they have everything a true contender needs to win a championship. They have scorers and athletic players, their defense isn't bad but could be better, but the team as a whole... PERFECT! Bull management has a lot of work to do this off season, but I doubt they do anything for a second straight off season.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    And Bulls fans keep talking about the guys on the Bulls that play team defense can't be replaced, if the Bulls management go out and trade for, draft, or sign from free agency the right players to play for the Bulls, the way Thibs preaches defense, the players that would be brought in would have no choice but to play defense. Bulls fans and management need to stop the love affair with these current Bulls players cause they're missing out on the big picture.

  • Yeah I've checked out. I won't be tuning in anymore until next season, the bulls have a lot of work to do this offseason. Like you mentioned we have a lot of time to talk about that so I'll focus on this game. Bulls lose by 7 or 8. They suck in day games number 1, number 2 is Lucas sucks, and number 3 the bulls have quit. They realize the seasons over and have nothing to play for. I was almost dead on with my prediction of bulls losing by 6. So I think 7/8 today.

  • Hey Doug I know it's looking kinda far into the future but what are the chances the Bulls Amnesty Boozer after next season and try to sign James Harden when he's a free agent? Could you imagine the roster of..

    Rose
    Harden
    Deng
    Mirotic
    Noah

    I think that lineup would be so well balanced that I'd be willing to wait until 2013/14.

  • In reply to souleater7:

    no cap space even getting rid of boozer

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    Hmm can't they try to dump Boozer or Deng next year to free some cap space? Easier said then done I know. I would try to move Deng for expiring contracts because then need to retool the roster.

  • In reply to souleater7:

    Even if you could get the cap room [which they can't], Harden is restricted, OKC would match.

  • All I care about this game and series is Noah better not play again... in fact, deng shouldnt go either. .. he' probably due for some kind of big injury.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    and reinsdorf should fire the entire medical staff, those guys suck.

  • sad to watch, the bulls look like they mentally have given in. This is what happens on a one trick pony team. The example of Lebron's cavaliers should be the example not to repeat. They loaded the superstar with washed up veterans and expected him to go 1 on 5 in the playoffs which got the cavs eliminated even though they were regular season champions. DONT REPEAT THE SAME MISTAKE. do what you have to do, to get derrick rose an eric gordon, oj mayo, james harden. someone who is young and can grow with Rose. Like the Chicago Bears before them, the Bulls were doomed by a horrible backup. Don't make the same mistake again, get a better backup pg.

  • We have seen all Thibs can offer as a head coach.
    If you want to win the regular season he's your guy. If you want to be prepared for the playoffs after a long, laborious, exhausting regular season, he's definitely NOT your guy.

    Thibs has two regular season championships and two playoff flameouts.
    I don't think he can change. We can now see he was a life-long assistant for for very good reasons. His substitutions are horrible, he fails to recognize matchups, he is unimaginative and stubborn, and he is the worst manager of players' health/playing time.

    PLEASE READ THIS PROPHETIC ARTICLE from Jan 26, 2012.
    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1039538-tom-thibodeau-is-the-chicago-bulls-coach-the-new-doug-collins

  • In reply to Edward:

    Hmm I don't think you can blame him for this season. Just bad conditions with everyone injured. Last season they just didn't have enough offensive fire power to compliment Rose.

    They'll give it another go next season. Were kinda stuck with this team as is. If they can weather the injuries and Rose shows good health who knows maybe they can get back to the ECF.

    Personally I'm just praying they trade Boozer.

  • In reply to souleater7:

    We probably were never going to do much with two of our three best players out anyway, but it's hard to argue that Thibs didn't completely fuck up game three. You needn't have seen a single game of basketball before in your life to know that Lucas was completely killing us out there. And how about running Noah out when he could barely walk? Great job making your team play 4 on 5 basketball for three crucial possessions on each side of the court.

    Yeah, the odds are stacked against you, but Christ, it's the playoffs. Coach like your life depends on winning the game.

  • Another huge and completely BS foul call goes against the Bulls in the last minute.

  • In reply to Ufficio:

    Make it two. Can't really say the Bulls deserved to win, but they certainly have no prayer playing 5 vs. 8.

  • Bulls getting hosed with the no calls on them and bail out calls for the Sixers. They have to come up with a way to get rid of Boozer, I mean my god the guy is just terrible. He's not dependable at all.

  • worst playoffs ever, i better get back to 2000-2005 mode and just tune out...
    If the bulls start next season poorly with this group I could see them tuning out thibodeau skiles-style by the the 25 game mark and he'll be gone. Very likely scenario I think unless management gets some fresh ears for the guy and some better talent.

  • Man those refs suck, they were the difference. 2 things kept the bulls in this game:

    1) gibson in the first half
    2)boozer with 23 pts 11 rebs(although the turnover at the end hurt)

    But the refs cost the bulls the game.

  • In reply to rob32:

    I was going to give it a rest as long as nobody brought it up, but I knew that wouldn't happen.

    Officiating aside, and ignoring his usual bullshit on the defensive end, and lack of rebounding when it counts(check out the brand offensive board(boozer failed to even attempt to block him out) with the score 82-80 which basically sealed the game) boozer scored 23 points on 24 shots. I believe somebody on this site would call that lousy offensive efficiency.

    Further reducing his efficiency were his 5 turnovers(check out the one at the 7 minute mark of the 4rth, the one which ended with Korver fouling hard, Boozer was still standing in the paint at the other end of the court after the foul was called, I'm surprised he could be bothered to come down to the defensive end for the free throws). So thats either 11-29 or you can subtract the 10 points that the Sixers scored on fastbreaks after his turnovers from his 23, take your pick.

    Today is the perfect example why even at what for him is his very best he has no effect on winning and a massive effect on losing. While, the loss today isn't all on him(thanks to Casper and Rip not showing up again), the Bulls will simply never win with him on the roster, and worse yet with him on the payroll.

    But, boozer can sleep well tonight, he looked good in the box score, which other than his bank account is all he and a majority of the fans care about. Can't we just trade him to Detroit, he and Gordon would be perfect teammates, they'd probably be best friends.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Without his production(18 and 10 in game 3, 23 and 11 in game 4) the bulls wouldn't have a shot at winning those games. who else is gonna give you those numbers on this team? Deng? lol.

    i don't like boozer and i would like to see the bulls rebuild this team by getting rid of everyone but rose,noah,butler and taj but the fact of the matter is, take away the points boozer scored and the sixers win game 3 and 4 comfortably.

  • If anything positive can come out of this horror fest called the first round performance by the Bulls is that management now has pressure on it to make some changes. We all know they have little wiggle room but garpaxman will be on the phone exploring trade scenarios, draft picks, free agents. If they went to the ECF, garpax might of had a false sense of confidence this team could win with Rose. Besides management's putting on their think-tank helmets on, the rest will be on Reinsdorf. His moment of truth has come, does he want to contend for a title or does he simply want to continue the cash cow called the Chicago Bulls. Moves this summer will tell us where this organization is headed to for the foreseeable future.

  • Honestly I have to question Thibs. He is 112-36 in the regular season te past two years. Thus far in the playoffs he is 10-10..fail. I'm going to go on my first real rant on here. We can't look at the thunder and their success, they drafted their big three. That's a result of sucking for quite a while. The Heat acquired theirs and by all accounts no other team had a shot at getting any of those guys, and the bulls really tried. The talk that the bulls haven't done enough to get good players is bull. They have put together a great team and if they were healthy would be prime to give MIA all they could handle, unfortunatly they aren't so we have to deal with it. Honestly this is probably the best team the bulls could have put together with what was available. Is this team better with Crawford, J.rich or Caron butler? Certainly not. What makes the bulls good is that when everything is clicking for them they are impossible to beat, the bench, the rebounding, the defense and Derrick going strong they are hard to beat. So garpax IMO have done a great job putting together a good team. What trades were available to make that would make the bulls better than MIA? Because that's who you're chasing, so what deals were available to make us better? Mayo? D. Howard? He didn't even have us on his list, and the bulls by all accounts were going to give everything but the kitchen sink (Derrick) to get him. We all need to keep things in perspective when looking at this team. Bulls are one player away, that's for sure but how do we get him? Who do we give up? And most important is WHO Is he? I have no clue an it's not my job, but for us to get on this blog and say they haven't done their job is false. We could be so much worse than we are. But we're a damn good team and we got bit by the injury bug...it happens. This offseason will be one that brings about changes. I'm ready for whatever happens. It's easy also to blame Thibs for this series (game 3 for sure) but players have to play. Guys haven't stepped up and you also have to give Philly credit. That's enough of my rant, hopefully we can pull it out tuesday.

  • In reply to insertclichehere:

    Good comment...but some players on this Bulls team need to go. Yes I will agree they're a good team, but a good regular season team. Nobody gets rings or championships for a good regular season. And there's not another coach in this league who's not working that can come in and do the job that Thibs has done so fans really need to give the its the coach fault a rest. It's not Thibs fault, this is what he has to work with. All they need is one win in Philly if they can get to a game six there. Got to win at the UC and put the pressure on the Sixers to close the Bulls out after being up 3 to 1.

  • Sidebar: I've been very close with my predictions. Maybe I need to bet. Of Course once I start that I'll lose my money.

  • Not sure who the bigger collection of moronholes is, the refs, or Hamilton, Deng, and Boozer. Philly won both of their 2 home games at the line despite the overall useless play of the Bulls faux all stars.

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