Punched in the gut

Punched in the gut

I had hoped the UC would come out rocking. I would hope the fans would unite with the players left. I had hoped the Bulls could put together a team game to beat up on the 76ers. However, after a strong first half, the Bulls became as flat as their fans. Philly started shooting ridiculously above their level, the loose balls all rolled their way, and Chicago couldn't throw the ball in the ocean.

It wasn't just one thing that had the Bulls turning an eight point half time lead into a complete rout by the 76ers in the second half. It was everything. The ball movement stopped, the 76ers destroyed Chicago in transition, the Bulls got nothing on the glass, and Philly hit a ton of tough shots while the Bulls hit virtually none.

Some of that was poor luck. Some of it was out of Chicago's control, but a few things need to change in order to get back in this series.

Avoid the trap by pushing the pace more on offense

The Bulls weren't playing well with C.J. Watson in the second half and turned an eight point lead into a big deficit, but the stretch that ended the game for the Bulls came with John Lucas in the game where the 76ers trapped him repeatedly. Lucas spent possession after possession not passing the ball until there was less than six seconds on the shot clock.

The Bulls can't consistently get good looks if they can't initiate the offense until the shot clock is winding down. They need to get the ball moving faster, earlier. The easiest solution is to stop slow walking the ball up the court. On many possessions Chicago wasn't even in position to attempt to initiate the offense until 12 seconds were off the shot clock because John Lucas is taking his sweet ass time walking the ball up then spending six seconds trying to dribble around the trap once he's there.

The Bulls need to apply pressure to the Philadelphia defense by attacking on offense in order to get them on their heels rather than awaiting the defense to attack the Bulls offense.

Get the ball inside

The Bulls largely fell apart over a stretch where every shot they took was a heavily contested jumper. Much of this had to do with not initiating the offense earlier, but it also had to do with what they attempted to initiate when they did get it going. The Bulls shooting in that second half was below their norm, but it wasn't that much below what they'd normally do on those types of shots.

When a team can't get any easy looks due to turnovers/transition, they need to find other ways to get the ball close to the basket. Run some post ups. Any of the Bulls big men should have some success posting up the players guarding them. It's not the offense I'd want to see all night long, but after the 10th heavily contested twenty footer in a row, its time to try something else. If you can't attack the basket off the dribble, then you have to attack it by passing it down low. You can't simply sit on the perimeter all night long.

Time to mix up the rotation some

This theory of playing starters for a quarter than bench for a quarter isn't working. I've never been a fan of running the show with nearly two completely separate units, and the Bulls need to find ways to keep better offensive personnel on the floor longer. I think the team really needed a lot more Rip Hamilton out there.

He only played 22 minutes, and while he had a putrid second half along with everyone else, he can at least attack off the dribble and create a higher quality shot than the Bulls were getting otherwise. I'd love to see the Bulls whip out a Watson, Hamilton, Deng, Gibson, Noah lineup to attempt to close out quarters.

Chicago can't forget about the bench mob since they were so critical in the Bulls success, but the dynamic of the bench mob has changed considerably with Watson being replaced by Lucas, and the Bulls need to try and find rotations that work better together.

Gut check time

The Bulls will have two days off to analyze how everything feel apart. To watch game film of every missed rotation and the poor offensive execution. Their season is at stake next game, and it's probably good that they're going on the road because the home crowd was an embarrassment.

It was even worse watching the camera pan to Rose in the box every 10 seconds to try and get a glimpse if he could look any more depressed than the last time they looked at him. Thank goodness his family showed up because if he was left alone the whole game he'd probably have thrown himself over the edge after watching that.

There are few times where I feel the team gives up, but in the second half, this team looked like it stopped believing. They couldn't even hit free throws to try and chip away at the lead during their cold shooting stretch.

Now we find out, do the Bulls get this one out of their system, or do they simply fall apart?

Give some credit to Philly

In the end Philadelphia dominated the Bulls on both ends of the court. Their defense was absolutely suffocating and lead to much of their good offense. However, on offense, they took complete advantage of every Bulls mistake. They ran the perfect amount in transition to get easy opportunities without ever turning the ball over.

When they got a bunch of easy looks to fall, all the hard ones started falling due to the confidence they built while the Bulls missed all their hard looks and then failed to make the easy ones.

It's a tough loss, but it's just one game. However, seeing the Bulls lose this game in this fashion was nearly as painful as seeing Rose tear the ACL. If the Bulls are who we think they are then they'll bounce back. If not, well, then we weren't going to get past Miami anyway.


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    The Bulls are what I thought they were. The Bulls play extremely hard during the regular season like its the playoffs. Most teams play better in the playoffs because they play there best guys for longer minutes. The Bulls are a strong team with depth. The issue with the Bulls is they don't have a go to guy anymore. Rose is gone. Deng is playing with one hand. Boozer is practically washed up. Hamilton can't play long minutes cause of age, injury, whatever the case may be. Noah is probably the best player on this Bulls squad but he's not a major offensive threat. Watson and Lucas are pretty much bench point guards. I don't see where they will find consistent offense and there defense will suffer cause now you have a void at point guard defensively. Lou Williams and Jrue Holliday, philly point guards torched the Bulls for, 46 points!!!

  • In reply to Danny Guerra:

    For what it is worth, and I pointed it out when it happened, the Bulls could have had Jrue Holiday with the 16th pick in the draft(instead of JJ), the Sixers snapped him up with the 17th pick.

    I know that we already had Rose, and Holiday had been projected as a lottery, likely top 10 pick so no one expected him to fall to the Bulls pick.

    Another reason to support the drafting of the best available player regardless of position and team need and deal with the consequences later.

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    In reply to BigWay:

    Good Observation. James Johnson looks to be a bust and Jrue Holiday looks like a pretty good point guard.

  • I was wondering what you knew that I didn't when you said that Chicago had a chance to creep into the ECF. I get that you probably just wanted to believe. This team is built around a point guard named Derrick Rose. It's built around a penetrating point guard. Both JL3 and C.J. are more comfortable taking long contested 2's and 3's. The Bulls have invested too many eight figure contracts into players who aren't legitimate All-Stars while being too good over the last few years to get any good draft picks. It's depressing. We knew DRose had to play at his MVP level from last year's regular season if the Bulls had a decent chance at knocking out the Heat, it's even more depressing that we may never see that MVP level again.

    At least Deng will start playing a lot better next season after his surgery. Boozer will just be another year older and another year fatter off of his undeserved contract. It'll just be good to have DRose back again sometime next season and see if the Bulls can make a real run at a championship then (maybe Miami won't be as motivated after breezing through the East this year and then toppling the too old Spurs or too young Thunder). I have a feeling by the end of this series that the Bulls will want this one in their rear-view window as fast as possible.

  • If the bulls are going to come unhinged that fast, they are probably better off just losing to the Sixers and putting us out of our misery. I fully expect Thibs to coach em up and at least get a split in Philly, but what for? We know what this team is, and by now we know who these players are. PaxForman has a tough choice this off-season to either sign somebody like Hinrich as a fill in and run the same team back again, or trade some of these guys at the peak of their value. Guys like Watson, Deng, and Gibson are never going to be more valuable. And while I really like these guys, the simply fact is they aren't going to be difference makers. But if you could package them and maybe get a top 5 pick, you could give a rookie impact player on the wing a year to grow until Rose gets back to 100% or whatever he is going to be. In a couple of years you could have Rose, stud rookie, Butler, Mirotic and Noah and a decent bench. That would be a solid team when the only real competition might be Indiana and OKC.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    No one is going to give you a top 5 pick or a difference maker for guys like Gibson, Watson, Deng or Boozer though. That's the problem.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    If Washington gets the second pick (a reasonable assumption given their having the second most ping pong balls), you don't think they'd go for a trade of Rashard Lewis, Jordan Crawford and/or Vesely and the #2 pick for Deng,Gibson and Boozer? With Wall and Nene that's an instant playoff team and possibly home court advantage in the first round. And the bulls get a dynamic young wing in the draft and instant salary cap flexibility.

    That team has been such a joke for the last few years, I'd be shocked if they turned that down. They are two seasons from either ruining Wall or losing him to free agency and if they don't get a large dose of veteran leadership and professionalism soon, that is exactly what will happen.

  • This is why the Bulls need another scorer that can pick up the slack and scoring when Rose is not there.

  • That was embarrassing. So much for championship contender if that is what the rest of the team has to offer we had no chance. I am kinda hoping they get knocked out by the sixers so GarPax get the message that they are really lacking and big changes are needed.

    Stopped watching midway through the third as this team has little come back ability. Checked back a few times just to see the score and in the fourth looked like everyone in the UC had the same feeling as the seats were surprisingly empty.

  • The silver lining here is that last night was the 76rs best shooting game all season; so the law of averages says they will not be that efficient in the remaining games of this series.

    The black cloud here is that the Bulls are suffering from a severe case of point guard deficit disorder. Lucas needs to get rid of the ball, or Mike James needs to replace him. The Bulls won’t get any offense from James, but maybe he can at least get the ball to the other four guys for scoring.

    And Boozer needs to start playing basketball.

  • Wow, that sucked. First thing that comes to mind is WE CANNOT GIVE LUCAS THAT MANY MINUTES......he dribbles way too much and is a ball hog / does not progress our offensive sets. Also, I get the feeling that he has a couple screws loose. He probably woke up feeling great today. SIDE NOTE: what terrible fans we have. The front row seats were practically empty in the last 5 minutes. WTF?!! I feel terrible. Just Terrible.

  • The Bulls are getting a taste of their own medicine in that the Sixers and Doug Collins are capable of bringing a very good defense at you. I said after Game 1 that I was not impressed with the Bulls for much of that game. When your star misses most of the latter season along with his 'difference' making SG that's not good. And your second best offensive player in Deng truly is playing with a seriously hampering injury.

    You look at the Bulls leading the league in wins two years in a row. Really? I don't know why people tune into the regular NBA season when teams obviously don't give anywhere near an effort they are capable of as in the playoffs. Especially defensively. I know you could say it's always been this way, but a team with the Bulls talent level racking up the best record simply because they play defense and share the ball(along with studliness from D-Rose) and other teams don't. It's kind of a pathetic portrait of one and dones with too much money and time on heir hands really.

    Before Michael in the early 90's guys made between $2 Mil and a few hundred thousand a year. Granted they were getting ripped off buy the owners, but all this freaking money and more and more kids raised with a junk culture and no parents. Plus one and dones with no indoctrination into adulthood really. A charmed AAU life. You don't ask the coach anymnore about a high school kid coming to your univeristy you ask his AAU mogul and the team's shoe slash athletic apparel rep.

    Derrick had something to prove after last year's poor playoffs. he also needed some help offensively, and didn't really get it. Now he's in an even tougher situation. For the first tiem this season I heard some feel sorry for myself remarks from Derrick that you don't hear too often from big time winners. But with all his injuries it's hard to blame him. He is only 23. Now he has an even tougher test ahead of him.

    I just hope the Bulls restructure this team because you have to get a second scoring star to play with Derrick. You just have to. Lu as the third wheel fine. Also, Thibs has to get more agression and attemtps at building a consistent low post production out of guys like Taj and Jo rather then letting them settle for jumpers.

    I like Taj, but his rebounding and ocassional offensive out bursts have tapered off. I really don't know if packaging him or Omer with Kyle or C.J. etc. can get you a potent SG or draft picks high enough to pick up an offensive star in waiting. Noah may be the only one of real value, and then you have that hole to fill as Omer is not going to cut it as a starter with no offensive game, and shooting 30-40% from the line.

    Meanwhile, the Bulls need to have some guys like Taj, C.J., and Rip step up to bring some offense so they at least don't lose to the f-ing Sixers. Make it out of the first round, and these regular season portraits of excellence are not a complete forgery. Go Bulls. Let's not turn our backs on them without giving them another chance.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I don't know if you have noticed the starting centers the Bulls have gone up against this season, but if that is all the league has to offer, Asik could start for half the teams in the league.

    Think Miami, OKC, or even the Spurs wouldn't love to have him right now.

    The Bulls strength outside of Rose is supposedly frontcourt size, yet Thibs is already capitulating to Collins and the Sixers by going to small ball to matchup against he Sixers lack of size.

    Maybe he should try killing them with size, they certainly have no one to contend with Asik

  • Lousy games happen. This game was part losing focus, the mental side; part Philly shooting out of their tree; and part greater effort/hustle from Philly, apart from their shooting. They got quite a few rebounds that the Bulls should have had. After the first half lead, I think the Bulls got lazy, mentally and physically.

    BTW, I figured Brewer was going to tank at least one of his free throws - he missed both! And JL can't figure out that he needs to pass the ball early.

    Even the MJ Bulls had a few of these games. We'll see what happens in Philly.

    Try to get D Williams this summer.

  • This team needs to be blown up. build around rose and noah with players that can score off the dribble, posting up and can draw fouls. there will be talent available in free agency.

  • In reply to rob32:

    Rob32 you're one of a few that is realistic about this Bulls team, they definitely need more scoring from other players than Rose. To blow this team up might not be such a bad idea cause the talent level of the Bulls is just not up to par with the other elite teams in the league. They will never get past Miami with this team, they would put up a good fight in a series, but the talent level would be the Bulls downfall.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    What are you going to do when you "blow the team up". What specific moves are you going to make and to what end?

    The idea of trading for better players is great. Who is opposed to that. It's when there are no details around this plan where things get lost.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Reese is right, DRose and the Bulls need another scoring star. He doesn't have to be a "superstar" but someone who can score 15-20 points in a game. With the cap situation being what it is, our best bet is to offer a package deal of Asik+charlotte pick which should get us a mid lottery pick and go for a young shooting guard, this draft is loaded. I just don't have any faith in the Bulls getting a solid veteran like chauncey billups, they always seem to strike out. Though i wouldn't mind Hinrich back for the right contract. I don't agree with blowing it up, this is still a great team with a solid core of Deng, Rose, Noah and Gibson....The Bulls have to find creative ways to add to this productive group. Of course I would prefer Eric Gordon over a rookie but with the cap situation and no amnesty use in sight, this is probably the only way the Bulls can improve.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Deng, Boozer, and Hamilton are all capable of getting you 15-20 points on a given night.

    You say you want a solid veteran like Chauncey Billups but they just got one in Rip Hamilton. It's just a grass is always greener thing when you want guys of that level.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Someone needs to get creative in trying to make trades or amnesty a certain power forward, the point is it can be done Doug. A lot of bulls fans don't want to bring in a player like J Crawford who just so happens to be keeping close watch on the Bulls with his tweets and how he always has something positive to say about the team. Why not reach out to Nash, Nick Young, Shannon Brown or even take a chance on D Williams cause they guy wants to win. Rose can move over to the 2 guard spot just to take some of the pressure off of him to score. This kid can not absorb being the Bulls only scoring threat anymore. He has to slowly work his way back from this knee injury, HE NEEDS HELP. A team has to have another gear come playoff time, they have to be able to score in critical situations and the Bulls yesterday couldn't do that. Being a good defensive team helps but someone has to be able to score.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    They have no way to get Deron Williams cap wise. They should pursue Nash, but he'll probably go elsewhere where he can get more minutes and a better role.

    The other guys are simply not better than the guys they have. Jamal Crawford? Really? You're just as well off in allowing C.J. Watson to jack up shots.

    I agree that the Bulls need help, but they don't need "nick young" level help, they need real help. An all star caliber player type help. I don't see how they can get that.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Jamal Crawford don't have to be a starter, he can come off the bench and can be a threat with the right players around him. The point is...he would be a liable threat and would definitely take some pressure off of Rose if they both played together in a game. The Bulls just need more scoring, PERIOD, cause the entire league knows Rose is the only threat as far as getting his own shot. I mean did you notice how many guys the Sixers have that can get their own shot, that's what the Bulls need. Not all star players, but guys that are known to score. Some of you guys need to start to think outside of the box, this team and Rose, needs more help scoring from some where and somebody, management need to really analize what this team and Rose really need especially now if they want to help their only all star win a title.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    If they do amnestitize that certain power forward, and drop Brewer, they could get under the tax line(while keeping Asik). This will allow them to use the full mid level, instead of the mini mid level available to tax teams.

    This would allow them to offer $5 million instead of $3 million and 4 years instead of 3 if necessary.

    Not a ton to work with but better than standing pat, as long as Reiny is willing to swallow hard while choking on $47 million.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    GarPax had the chance the trade deadline before last to trade Asik and maybe Korver for O.J. Mayo (3rd overall pick in 2008 and second in Rookie of the Year voting to Derrick Rose). That's an infusion of young talent and a backcourt player to pair with DRose who was born in the right decade as opposed to Rip.

    Considering the fact that the Heat basically won the ECF series each game in the final minutes by keeping all ten Heat players' eyes on DRose, if they'd have made that trade, they might be world champions right now. I'm still heartbroken about them not pulling the trigger on it. Afterwards the Grizz scrambled to find a deal and almost traded him for Josh McRoberts and a draft pick if they hadn't sent in the proposed deal in for approval too late.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    this is exactly what the bulls are lacking, a YOUNG athletic shooting guard that can playmake like an OJ MAYO,he can even play backup pg. If they decide that Mayo or Gordon would be too expansive to sign or trade for. They have to try to find a way into getting a mid-lottery pick since this trade is loaded with talended wing players. If your going to have to develop Rose's backcourt partner, better start now with Rip being gone after next year.

  • Why not play with this team composition:
    PG: Deng
    SG: Hamilton
    SF: Butler and or Butler for defensive purposes
    PF: Gibson
    C: Noah

    Make Mike James alternate to Deng since he's a vet and experienced this before. Korver alternate for Hamilton. Defense and Rebounding is the key. Pound it inside. Watson needs to step us as well as Omer.

  • In reply to StealthSniper45:

    I like this lineup where Deng is the PG, Stealth. We could always use a PG that can't break down a defense off the dribble. This solves our Derrick Rose injury problem. Here we come, finals.

  • In reply to KingOfCrumbs:

    I agree. I think I should start as PG. Deng can come off the bench for me when I get tired of half court heaves.

  • Lets not all jump ship just yet. Jrue Holiday isn't going to light the world on fire like he did last night every game. This is still a 5 or 6 game scenario for the series, provided Deng steps up. I'd say last night is more of an aberration than the rule. We still have the Celtics series to look forward to.

  • Thanks for the JL3 analysis, I've been reading way to many articles today saying him and CJ played well because of what the box score said at the end. The fact is when JL3 tries to take over a game and they actually decide to play defense on him, the offense comes to a complete halt.

    I felt like I was going to puke if I saw him chuck up another heavily contested shot because he ran the shot clock down and had no other option.

  • In reply to eric:

    Agree, the 76ers were able to blunt JL3's effectiveness by throwing double teams at him up top. Usually, you open up your perimeter defense by doing this, but Lucas was often unable to find the open man. Point being, by throwing the double at him they were often able to run 8-10 secs off the shot clock, forcing the bulls into throwing up poor shots. Credit Collins. Also, the 76ers rotations were very sharp in the second half. They were shifting nicely, it will be interesting to see if they bring that sort of defensive intensity in game 3.

  • In reply to eric:

    He is what he is, Mr Rucker park, he made those shots in the first half, but couldn't buy a brick in the second half.

  • How about this...
    PG Rip
    SG Korver
    SF Deng
    PF Taj
    C Noah

    I think Rip has enough handles to be a PG. CJ Watson can go back to backup duties. I like this idea.

    I think they match up well with the Sixers. Move Watson and Boozer to the bench. Of course Thibs will never do this because he's so damn pasty.

  • In reply to SoulEater7:

    I agree with you, then either put ronnie brewer and jimmy butler for handling permiter defense thereby preserving Rip and Loul fresh and strong in the 4th quarter. Or if its really necessary, refpalce Taj and put Noah as PF then Omer as Center. Then pound inside to free up Rip, Kyle and Loul.

  • In reply to SoulEater7:

    wouldn't mind seeing Butler get some time period, especially against Evan Turner, he appears to be too big for either CJ or Rip.

  • We've seen this game before, the first Philly game(loss) of the season, with Deng out but Rose playing.

    While it was disgusting to watch, in the grand scheme of things it was inconsequential, since winning or losing this series doesn't mean anything, we all know we are not going anywhere without Rose.

    As I have contended for several years now, the Bulls are a lousy hands team, and the Sixers are an annoying frustrating team to begin with, they never stop swatting/hacking at the ball, which causes even more loose balls and scrambles. Last night they won the fight to nearly every 50/50 play, and they shot 60%

    We wouldn't have won that kind of game even with Rose.

    As I said before the game, without Rose, we are a collection of role players and wanna be all stars(Deng, Boozer). Games like last night prove my contention that Deng is at best a 3rd banana type player, and in my opinion he is really a 4rth best player on a championship team.

    To me Deng is less valuable than Tony Kukoc was to the second 3 peat Bulls of the 90's, and he was the 4rth best Bull and a sixth man to boot. And Boozer is even less valuable than Deng.

    Noah is the Rodman/Horace Grant of this team, making him the 3rd banana. and to me Rose is more Scottie Pippen than Michael Jordan.

    Last nights game, just like last years playoffs proves the theory that this Bulls team is built to win regular season games not championships.

    Given our salary structure there really isn't much that we can do about until at least the 2013-14 season, assuming that we can trade Deng as an expiring contract, which is less likely under the new CBA.

    If Deng can't be moved in the last season of his contract, then we are stuck for 2 full seasons before real reconstruction can begin in the 2014-15 season. The only guys guaranteed to be under contract will be Rose and Noah, with maybe Asik, Gibson and Butler still on board.

    The sky isn't falling, but reality is.

  • I am as down as anyone here, but let's have a little bit of perspective. This game reminds me of Game 5 vs. the Pistons in 2006. We were down 3-0 to start that series, then won game 4 at the UC. We went back to Detroit for Game 5 where everyone figured Detroit would sew it up. Instead, the Bulls caught fire, shot 58% (and 60%+ from 3!), and clobbered the Pistons 108 - 92 -- almost exactly the same score as yesterday's game. I remember thinking that maybe the Bulls had caught fire and figured out the Pistons, but sure enough, in Game 6 back at the UC we fell back to earth, shot 37% (28% from 3) and lost by 10.

    Philly has 3 main weaknesses -- poor shooting, too many turnovers and not enough rebounding. In yesterday's game, they beat us in all those categories. Just like we experienced back in 2006, Philly will soon fall back to earth and the Bulls will right the ship.

  • The bulls need to figure out what to do. It's not our job, we can toss around dream scenarios and NBA 2k12 trades all we want, but the reality is that Garpax have to figure out a way to get Derrick some real help. No matter what other things are in their job description the main point is to win a title. I honestly do believe this team has great chemistry and good role players but it's not enough. So if you have to trade Taj, noah, deng, amnesty boozer, whatevet tou have to do make it happen..if not this will turn into Lebron leaving Cleveland. I mean it's eerily similar. Derrick wants to win and I doubt he'd sacrifice that just to be loyal to Chicago

  • In reply to insertclichehere:

    Very good point sir, after this knee incident that Rose will have to endure, he just may come back with a different attitude and demand more help. How he goes about it will be key tho. He has to realize that he needs more help and has a lot of time to come up with a way to approach management about this.

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