Tom Thibodeau keeps saying the next man has to step up. They have enough to win. There's not much else he can say, but he's wrong. The team played hard in the past two losses. They didn't give up. They didn't allow a runaway train of easy looks at the basket, but in both games they simply couldn't score enough when it mattered.
This game, it was Jrue Holiday who stepped up and killed Chicago. His back to back threes with time running down in the fourth gave the 76ers a nice lead, and Boozer's lack of a foul call (when down by two) after getting whacked on the arm, head, and body by two defenders while diving into the lane combined with a phantom foul on the other end spelled doom for the Bulls.
Perhaps had that series gone differently Chicago would have pulled out the game, but they weren't going to win this series if they did. They simply don't have enough left. Not without Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. They've lost too much. They played tough. They played hard. I'm sure there will be plenty of people who say otherwise simply because the game resulted in a loss, but it won't be true.
Chicago did what it could. It gave Philly its best shot two games in a row. It came up short on both. Chicago may take game five at the United Center, or they might simply pack up their tents and go back home. It's hard to say what the mental state of the team is at this point. As fans, we've all turned the page already.
What can the Bulls do in this off-season? How can they solve these problems? That's what the fans want to know, and I'm sure I'll have 100+ articles centered around that in the off-season, so I'm not too anxious to try and figure it out right now. One thing is for sure, this series has highlighted plenty of problems.
The Bulls weren't going to win the title this year. The regular season was a mirage. The Bulls still need a legitimate second threat. It's the problem we've thought they've had all along while hoping that we were wrong. They need another initiator and creator and lack much in the way of assets to get one.
The bad news / bad news of the Bulls Rose-less playoffs was summed up pretty well here with this quote.
And if we're being honest with ourselves, it's going to be hard to watch them play in this series (or, God willing, the next one and the one after that) without being sad as shit. It's a Catch-22: If the Bulls look awful in Rose's absence, that clearly sucks. And if they beat the Sixers and give Boston and the Heat all they can handle before bowing out, it'll be hard to appreciate the accomplishment in its own light. We'll instead be distracted by what could have been.
Well we know which of those two things happened, and I'd rather dream of what could have been then sit here feeling like the Bulls need to overhaul the roster with no real useful assets to do it. Chicago's going to have a tough fight on Tuesday, but they're primed for an even tougher fight this off-season if they want to make a run at the ring next season.