The great depression

Would the Bulls be up 3-1 without the Noah injury? I'm not sure if the answer to this question poses relief or simply greater depression. Both games were down to one possession in crunch time and had ending totals that blew up due to intentional fouling.

I have no doubts that this series would be at least 3-1 if the Bulls had Rose, but I'm thinking at this point that Noah's absence, at a minimum, has us at 2-2, and quite possibly 3-1 as well. Perhaps I'm looking to escape the paradox of being depressed over the fact that this cast isn't good enough to beat Philly without Rose and at the same time not being crushed that I feel they would have won a title if not for an injury that we'll always wonder if it could have been prevented.

The "What if" game is one for losers, but that's about all the Bulls have left in this post season. One more shot at redemption and a bunch of "what if"s. The Bulls were killed by two things in the last game, not recovering quickly enough on Spencer Hawes, and Jrue Holiday attacking the team. Noah could have helped with both. Maybe it wouldn't have been enough, maybe the Bulls would still be down 3-1. We'll never know. Just like we'll never know what would happen if Tom Thibodeau had pulled Rose for that final two minutes.

Tom Thibodeau will tell us that they have enough to win, that the next guy needs to step up. What else can he say? In reality, the Bulls do have enough to win. They could have won either of the past two games with an additional shot that fell or one that didn't for Philly.

In the case of game four, simply not playing 5-8 may have been enough, but the officials hosed the Bulls repeatedly in the game [mitigated somewhat by the 76ers horrific foul shooting until the closing free throws].

Its been a tough pill to swallow for Bulls fans, and at this rate, I'll almost be glad when it's over. It's hard to watch this team without the specter of what could have been hanging in the room. It'd be hard to get excited about a win [not that we can test this theory out], knowing the inevitable doom that's still coming.

Maybe it's simply starting to kick in now that the Bulls are on the cusp of elimination or perhaps it's just a Monday thing, but as a sports fan, this is the most depressed I've ever been about this team. I've never been bothered by a bad team, the expectations are that they'll be bad. However, to take one of those rare, magical title shots, and turn it into this.

To take those expectations of winning a title this season and wondering if they've completely doomed their chances to ever get one? It's tough to take. Maybe the Bulls can pull one out tomorrow and give us one last good feeling on the way out the door, but it will only be a temporary relief for an off-season full of question.

[ps, apologies on no Bulls Beat this weekend as the day games always screw with my recording schedule]

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  • This definitely sucks and I wish Chicago had another guy on the team who could create his own shot, but that's not the reality right now. This team was built around Rose's strengths, just like most good teams are built around their best player. As we all know, this team could compete for a championship with a healthy squad, but that's not the case right now.

    Some might disagree with this, but I'm trying to keep this in perspective right now. If the best player on any of the playoff teams goes down with a season ending injury (with the exception of Miami and maybe OKC), none of those teams have a chance at getting to the Finals anymore. Miami without Lebron or Wade and OKC without Durant would still have a good chance at getting to the Finals, but I doubt they would be the favorite without their best player. Now take their top two players out, and even Miami and OKC aren't making it far in the playoffs anymore.

    This doesn't take away the fact that the Bulls still need more creators on offense but it is a reminder that whether you're the Chicago Bulls or the Miami Heat, if your best two players go down with injuries you're not going far in the playoffs. They were both freak injuries that could happen at any time to any team, unfortunately it happened to the Bulls and we'll all be left wondering what might have been.

  • Ain't over till it's over! As sad as i'm feeling about the Bulls right now, I'm still hopeful that we can survive the first round and make some noise in round 2.

    3-1 deficits have been overcome before. If there's a team with the mental fortitude to achieve such a feat, it's this Bulls team that has continuously shown up when presented a challenge. This may be the biggest challenge of the year by far, but I still have no reason to doubt that they can overcome it.

  • Doug has it right. This is as depressing an end to the season as you could draw up. The Sixers came into the playoffs without any confidence, after getting beaten by most good teams the second half of the season ... and were ripe to be dominated.

    But first Rose goes down with that awful ACL injury, then Noah (clearly the Bulls second-best player) turns his ankle completely over. And the 3rd best player, Deng, is a shell of himself with his wrist injury seemingly preventing him from playing at a high level.

    What did we find out? The rest of the team just isn't that good. That unfortunately includes Boozer, Rip, Watson, Korver, Brewer and yes, even Gibson and Asik. And it obviously includes Lucas.

    Don't get me wrong: I love these guys on the Bulls, but they'll all really deficient players. Boozer has improved on D but still regularly gets beat, and his offensive game now only consists of the free throw line or top of the key jumper. And he continues to choke in the clutch every single time!!! He has to go. The Bulls will NEVER win the big games if he's our starting 4.

    Rip is done. He's getting dominated by Evan Turner for God's sake. Watson cannot create for anyone and when his shot's not falling, he's terrible. Lou Williams and Holliday are crushing him. (Lucas is even worse, of course, and it speaks volumes of how far the Bulls have sunk that he's even on this roster. I know he can hit shots once is a while with that "irrational confidence," but he's a poor FG shooter and cannot create for anyone and gets beasted on D. I wouldn't want him on my rec league team.)

    Korver should not even be playing unless Rose is the floor. Unless there's a player who can draw two defenders, Korver is unable to get any space to shoot his standstill jumper. He cannot dribble and gets torched on D still (even though he's improved). And he'll always be that "slow white guy that refs love to call fouls on." There's one on every team, but Bulls unfortunately have two of them, with Asik being the other (as he was called for another phantom foul yesterday).

    Brewer is only useful against a team like the Heat, as he can slow down a D Wade, but against the Sixers we need points and he's not going to give us that. He's Bogans 2.0. That's not an indictment, for Bogans shuts Wade down last year ... but he's a very limited player.

    Gibson and Asik are the two players on the team that can actually improve. Both are elite defenders and good rebounders (but not dominant ones unfortunately0, and Gibson can shoot the jumper on occasion. But overall both are weak on offense, as Gibson only has that unreliable jumper and Asik is unable to finish inside besides being 7'2"! Luc Longley inside game was Hakeem-like in comparison.

    Going forward, the only hope this current Bulls team has is if 1) Rose recovers from his ACL, of course, and resembles himself. Of course, there's no certainty there, as he was fragile all year long. 2) If Boozer is cut from the team. A scoring PF like a Michael Beasley needs to be found, as this team simply cannot put the ball in the hole. 3) Rip is replaced by a competent starting SG. JR Smith under Thibs? I'd take it.

    I'll stop there. But let's face, the D that the Bulls could hang their hat on? No longer there. It's still pretty good, but the lack of scoring will never allow this team to get to a championship. And the fact that the 2nd and 3rd best players (Noah and Deng) are not reliable scorers does not bode well ...

  • In reply to Curious E:

    If this analysis is accurate, you would expect the Bulls to be in the lottery! But they tied for the best record in the NBA! How can a load of scrubs do that? Also this team beat the Heat twice without Rose.

    The problem is it's a team. Remove a piece and it screws up the system and the team chemistry. Nothing works as well. They need each other. Remove 3 pieces and forget it! Then all the individual weaknesses are exposed. But when the team is clicking, the players compensate for each other's deficiencies. That is how they won so many games.

  • In reply to Curious E:

    First of all, Bulls need a new head coach. We have a psycho on our hands who has become a victim of his own hype.
    Did you hear his response to that young reporter at courtside when asked what he would do differently in the upcoming half of the game against the 76ers? He told the young lady, "They just have to Man Up." Incredible!

    This career assistant has been getting away with a lot of things before the playoffs, but injuries to Derrick Rose and now Noah have put him quarely on the operating table. This is when you show how good a coach you are. He's playing against an inferior team and he's being exposed by Doug Collins!

    The thing about this guy they call Thibs is that he has it somewhere in his skull that he can't be replaced, no matter what! We know that some of the assistants or cabinet members to the President of the United States were responsible for his getting the Chicago job. But this guy is a slave driver and we are seeing the result in the homestretch.

    Time for the return of Phil Jackson. He would love to have Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose under his wings. He's not a slave driver. He's a handler of talent. He's available and if the Bulls don't get active New York could steal him. But I can assure you that Jackson, because of those two key members of the Bulls' squad would only take one job and that's the Chicago Bulls.

  • In reply to SlamDunk:

    Man..this is not Thibs fault, its understandable that u need to find someone to blame but its not Thibs fault, this is what he has to work with. Outside of Rose Noah and Taj, maybe Butler, this team is just not that good. Bulls just need more talent... BOTTOM LINE!!!

  • The refs have been terrible in some of these games, like yesterday. I hate injustice, tho it is part of life in this world. When a player or coach complains about the lousy referees, Stern says they are "disrespecting the game." I would say the NBA officials are disrespecting the game by allowing this garbage, and they are disrespecting the fans by giving us a trashy product.

    I have reduced my watching because of this. If we all quit watching until they fixed it, believe me it would get fixed real fast!

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Rusty, you make good points about the team chemistry ... and no team had chemistry like the Bulls this year, except for the Spurs! And if Parker went down, and Duncan followed, they'd be DOA too.

    I guess I'm concerned that these guys are unable to step up their games, and that Boozer will never step up.

    Ref-wise, they've been awful. It's not like these Sixers have stars that get "star calls" either. It's weird.

  • Sorry to say but it sounds like reality is setting in for a lot of posters. This is something I and a few others have been trying to say for years. Without Rose this team is nothing without another go to scorer to take on the load. Big changes need to be made to this roster.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Yup reality is setting in, doug and most bulls fans drank the "regular season champions" kool aid and now there devastated. i knew this team didn't have what it takes to get past miami and win a title because its the same team as last year besides old man rip.

  • In reply to rob32:

    It's not that people are disappointed because this team doesn't have what it takes to get past Miami this season, it's because we'll never know if they had what it takes this year due to key injuries. We all know the team has flaws just like every team out there, but when the team was healthy, they could compete with and beat any team out there.

  • In reply to NateTags:

    Even healthy, the Bulls were not getting past Miami. It would've been the same as last year even if Rose or Noah would not have been injured, Rose was going to get shut down with Lebron guarding him, and the other scorers would chuck up shots and miss...JUST LIKE LAST YEAR.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    They would have at least had a chance, I never said they definitely would get past Miami. All I'm saying is that it's wrong to say people are coming to the reality that they wouldn't have beat Miami just because people now know the season is over because Rose and Noah are injured. If they were still playing, and I'm sure you'll disagree with this but that's your opinion, Miami would be favored in the ECF but it could go either way. Miami was no lock to beat the Bulls this year.

  • In reply to NateTags:

    Bulls wouldve lost to Miami NateTags cause if Rose was guarded by Lebron, who else was going to score. As Ive said before...defense will carry a offensively challenged team only so far, it is what it is.

  • The way this team is put together, you need the sg position to be able to dribble drive/create because of Deng's inability to do so and Rose getting double teamed or trapped. So when you have a small forward who can't create for himself and a center that is offensively limited with a rapidly declining powerforward who can't' finish around the rim.... all things leading to the offense getting stagnant because the opposing team is trying to take away the jumpshot . You need to bridge the gap in the athletic perimeter play. They can do that by either trying to get an OJ Mayo/E. Gordon veteran or go get one in the draft. What's the old saying? jumpshooting unathletic teams can only go so far...

  • The thing that's stung for me, since I never felt this team had any sort of chance if they somehow managed to make it into the second round without Rose, is that they've basically just laid down and died. Yes, they tried in the last two games, but they didn't play with the magic they promised us in numerous post game interviews and Facebook postings. If this team doesn't have what it takes to take one game against the worst team in the playoffs, what does that say about their level of heart? I still think it would be 3-1 even if Noah had played. At least he'd have had a positive impact somewhere, though.

  • One last try! Agreed, we're not likely to be champions this season, but it IS too soon to give up. We dominated the first game but lost the second game in morning, giving up home advantage. So NOW we need to win ONE game on their floor and our remaining home games. We nearly had them beat in game 3, and I think it was the emotional shock of Noah going down that helped Philly win that one. And we nearly beat them in game 4 with the Next Guys Up. So now we've got to build on those close games in Philly, go home and beat these suckers, and carry the momentum into Game 6 for one more try. Who would then bet against the Bulls at home in Game 7? Yes, I'm an optimist, that's the point... this is how you win a tough 7-game series as Underdogs.

    Or not... probably not... but it is still too soon to give up, rather than seeing a brave, struggling team have it's heart ripped out, and then it's guts, and have to play on, and STILL nearly win a road playoff game. This is a different team without Rose, might as well adjust your expectations so as to enjoy the remaining season...

    (Of course, part of me wants it over before Deng or anyone else hurts themselves further and screws up next year any more!)

  • "mourning" not "morning"... though we're not so good in the mornings either...

  • I'd like to thank Rose's ACL and Noah's ankle for freeing up the rest of my spring. As a bulls fan, I'd much rather lose in the first round because two of the top three players are injured and the third is playing with one hand than going into the Eastern conference finals and lose because those players aren't good enough/ready yet/whatever.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    "Always look on the bright side of life... doo doo... doo doo doo doo doo doo...." (Monty Python)

    Yeah, Bullshooter, but we could still win one or two more this series and go out with a better feeling... or do you just wanna get it over with already?

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Even though I am one of those who felt/feels that the Bulls could not beat Miami even at full health, I would have preferred to find out on the court, no matter how frustrating that might have been.

    Now the only thing that I have left to root for is which team I want to make it out of the west, i.e. which team do I believe has the best chance to beat the heat, San Antonio, or OKC. Can't root for the Lakers with kobe getting his sixth ring.

  • I want to believe so bad the bulls can win tomorrow but I just can't. They have looked out of sorts, and beside that they are missing their three best players. It's hard to win games that way. I think they will really put up a great fight but will fall short.

  • Well we were always going to have to beat the Heat then who ever came out of the West, so that's two pretty 50/50 series to get the championship, which means a 75% chance of no championship even if healthy. That's sport, always a lot more disappointment than success really, so I guess I'm not too depressed about how things turned out, we just cashed in our 75% chance of disappointment early.

  • Any chance the bulls go after odom? I think he just had a lot going on this last year and that affected him. He's long and is a good rebounder and a good defender. Won 6th man not too long ago. He should be good for another couple years or so. I doubt Cuban gets a kings ransom for him, maybe he takes back CJ to replace Kidd or whatever.

  • I would like the bulls to try ad get Matt barnes. I know they tried a couple seasons ago but try again. He and brewer are similar players, although es a better shooter (not by much) I like his toughness though. I would keep Kyle though. It's hard to find good shooters. I think he was over 40% again this year.

  • just some random poster on bleacher report, but it does reflect what I have always thought about Casper the Ghastly Deng.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1174562-luol-dengs-playoff-performance-for-the-chicago-bulls-proves-hes-not-a-star

  • In reply to BigWay:

    His contract salary increases while his offensive ability declines. I wonder who was the genius who gave him a backloaded contract which is even worse in the new salary cap system. I give him alot of credit for his strong effort on defense and rebounding but his offense is downright mediocre. Even before he got injured he struggled shooting. I can see now why the Denver Nuggets wanted no piece of luol deng a few years ago in exploratory talks with the Bulls on a Melo trade. A nice role player "system's guy" like Deng should get no more than 9/10m a year. The Bulls might be able to dump Boozer on a desperate Nets or Orlando Magic team but I can hear them complaining about "not getting equal value". ? what. Take Ryan Anderson and run with it.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Virtually every player in the NBA has a back loaded contract. Max raises each year is standard.

  • The really depressing news is KC Johnson says there's zero percent chance the Bulls amnesty Boozer this off season ... so you can kiss goodbye to Brewer, Korver and using the MLE. Vet min salary for half the roster it is.

  • I'm the only one who thinks the Bulls should blow it up and everyone hates me for saying it. But I do believe it. The chances Rose comes back to being the same player are so small. That's the most depressing thing to think about. And the fact that he cares so much and tries so hard. This will kill him. It's going to kill our team. We can't very well trade him. Even if it is the right move, who wants Derrick Rose - Derrick Rose's physical abilities? One moment has altered the course of a franchise.

    NBA Where amazing happens. :(

  • There have been bad decisions that led to this outcome. I hope management learns from it as well as the players. Management cannot ask much about the players left for they are one dimensional players. To our team continue fighting... put heart into it... you earned the best record for a reason and that you always have each others back. Go Bulls!!!

  • Doug, what can we expect next year? Is there any chance to enter the playoffs?? Who will remain?

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