Bulls fall to four seed, but that's not so bad

Bulls fall to four seed, but that's not so bad

Things keep changing at the top, and right after Miami won the first seed in the East, they gave it right back to Indiana. Indiana seemed destined to give it right back with a home game against the Thunder, but managed to pull their first quality win together in forever and now has a magic number of one to clinch the one seed in the East with a single game left to play against the Magic.

The Bulls? They lost to a Knicks team that was eliminated from the playoffs the previous night when Atlanta defeated the Heat. In the end? Too many turnovers and poor shooting doomed them as much as anything else. Their defense didn't play well enough either, and it was just one of those games.

It's been so long since we saw the Bulls fall to a team they should have beaten that it feels strange. Up until there was about 30 seconds left I figured the Bulls would still find some miracle way to pull it out. The Bulls had won 16 straight against below .500 teams prior to this loss, and while those are all games they should win, it's tough to always win those games.

However, there was no monster comeback coming in this game, no surge like against the Detroit Pistons. I think we all felt it coming at points, the Bulls cut a large lead down to six multiple times, but couldn't get closer.

Joakim Noah fell one assist shy of another triple double in the loss. Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin both shot horribly from the field which contributed heavily to the Bulls lack of scoring. The Bulls really rely on getting efficiency from the PG position and struggle mightily when they don't.

The Knicks giveth and the Knicks taketh away.

Now? Well, the Bulls still might win the three seed, but it will rely on Toronto faltering and them not faltering. Still a distinct possibility down the stretch. The Bulls play the Magic and @Bobcats while the Raptors play the Bucks and @Knicks. The question is what do you want as a Bulls fan?

The three seed definitely gives a better path to round two, but the matchup against the Pacers actually feels fairly winnable for Chicago rather than just a complete longshot. I might give the Bulls 35-40% odds at winning that one right now given the Pacers have been so atrocious lately.

That said, the Heat haven't been much better. There's just an assumption that Dwyane Wade will become healthy, and Miami will flip this thing into playoff gear once the time comes. I hold that assumption along with much of the rest of the NBA, but there's certainly reason to doubt it. This is by far the worst Miami has played in the regular season since the big three came together.

There's the theory that maybe Chicago would be better off in the Miami bracket, because at least if they lose they soften them up for the Pacers, or perhaps you believe the Bulls just sharpen them up for the Pacers instead?

I suppose in the end, I think I'd prefer the four seed and the easier path through round two with a more difficult path through round one. I think the Bulls will take the Nets in round one if they end up as the four seed even if it's more of a struggle than Washington. Brooklyn has played better recently, but I like the way the Bulls match up against them for the most part. They're still an old and slow team, and when it comes down to execution, I like the Bulls more.

I wouldn't want to underestimate the additions of Pierce/Garnett who know how to win in the playoffs. I don't expect the Nets to fall apart this year and completely give up like last season. That said, I feel confident in the Bulls ability to defend those guys at this stage of their careers.

The Wizards seem more likely to choke to me, they don't have much playoff experience. That said, if they can stay loose, their extreme perimeter athleticism is more likely to give Chicago trouble. The Bulls biggest weakness is when teams can blow them up off the dribble, and I think Washington's odds of doing that vastly exceed the Nets.

If the Bulls can't defeat the Nets, and it's definitely not an automatic, then they weren't getting past the Pacers anyway. In the end, since Chicago's not in the top two seeds, their path to the finals (as ridiculous as it sounds that I'd discuss it) runs through both Indiana and Miami. When viewing the ultimate goal, however unlikely it is, it kind of doesn't matter where they start.

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  • The Bulls are entitled to a game off now and then - they are still 8-2 over last 10! If they can continue that, ...

    IMO, if the Bulls reach the ECF, even if they lose there, it increases the likelihood that Carmelo comes to Chicago.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Carmelo isn't coming to Chicago. Phil is there, and he'll get $33 mill more over time to stay where he originally wanted to go. As for Chicago, it makes little sense too as long as Derrick is on the books to bring in another max deal guy and one who is a volume shooter and ball-handler. Everyone wants what they don't have, but Melo talk is insane to me.

  • In reply to Curmudgeonly:

    1) As I recall, that $33 million includes an extra year.

    2) However, if Carmelo becomes the Big Dog on a repeat championship team, he will make more money than staying in NYC, plus his legacy will legendary.

    He says he wants to win! We will see.

  • You are right... There is no point in trying to force themselves into getting a particular seed. If they cant beat the lower seed they are assigned to, then we cant expect them to beat their assignment in the second round. What is important is that everyone is healthy this time of the year and that the Bulls are playing well enough to have a chance. Thibs keeps on saying that we have to take it a game at a time. Lets finish business first and talk about the rest when we get there.

  • As horrible as the Pacers have been of late -- and they've been God awful -- I really don't see the Bulls beating them in seven games. I mean maybe a 20% chance under the circumstances, but I'd consider it an accomplishment if they could even push them to six games.

    So I'm saying, I'd rather see the Bulls get the best matchup for them in the first round and advance to the second round. They do that, they've had a great year. The ECF stuff just isn't going to happen and it would honestly be a crying shame if a mediocre team like the Bulls was playing in the ECF.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I agree with you, I think that we go down in 5 to either Miami or the Pacers. I also am not as sanguine as Doug about our chances of beating Brooklyn. However, should we get to the second round, I'd rather annoy the shit out of Miami than play rugby with Indy

  • The Bulls have a better chance advancing to the second round by avoiding Brooklyn. But they have a better chance to advance into the ECF finals by avoiding Miami. It is a lose-lose scenario. I would prefer taking my chances on avoiding Brooklyn at this point, if I could. But now it may be too late.

  • Bummer, Noah missing out(again) on his 5th triple double of the season, especially on a day the Lance(the new Steven Jackass)Stephenson got his 5th to take sole possession of the league lead. However, all is not lost as the bozohole recorded another single single, funny how sam smith doesn't chronicle those.

    I wonder how many Noah would have if the Bulls could just shoot the ball like a legitimate NBA team. Medusa Legs(Jimmy Butler) alone costs him at least 2 assists a game on blown layups where he simply lacks the ability to elevate and finish at the rim. Despite his overall shooting woes, his inability to elevate and finish at the rim has to be the most frustrating part of his game. Heck, if the Bulls were an elite shooting team Noah might be averaging a triple double, not quite the Oscar Robertson kind, but a baby one at least.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I don't mean to make Doug blush but this is why he's such a great blogger. He gives you facts, he gives you insight but he doesn't sugarcoat the team's efforts or BS the reader. When the FO misses an opportunity or doesn't spend like it should, Doug points it out. When a player like Boozer is a train wreck, Doug calls him a train wreck. KC Johnson is terrible, one of the worst beat writers in town in my opinion. Sam Smith is a crazy old man. If you want to know what's going on with the Bulls, Doug is your best bet.

  • Just read that the Bulls waived TokoOno and signed Greg Smith(6'10", 250, reputedly). Even though it likely won't matter at all(think Jimmer) this is a damn good move. Smith is a big body physical bruiser type player(a bigger Reggie Evans) who rebounds well(something that we haven't done lately), and could come in handy against both Brooklyn and especially Indy. He got a lot of minutes as Asiks backup last season(before they had Howard), and there were a lot of games where it looked like McHale liked him better than Asik.

    No shot of this happening with Thibs in charge, but I would immediately move boozer to the physically(and mentally)unable to perform list, start Taj and use Smith as our 3rd bigman.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Oh yea, by the way, for those of you that might notice such things, Hardaway outscored Snell 20 to zip.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Watching Hardaway play last night really hurt.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Saw a report today that Noah leads all NBA players not just centers in defensive rating @ 95.7. Kind of shocked by that, Noah doesn't usually fair all that well in some of these advanced stats, I think because he has so many responsibilities on as the Bulls defensive everything, that and he has to carry a 265 SOS around for 20 something minutes a night. Meanwhile Hibberts defensive rating has gone from 95 in the first half of the season to 106 the last 27 games.

    Again Noah better get DPOY and Hibbert better not even sniff it.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Not only that but the guys I wanted 1) Plumlee was 17 & 11, and 2) Dieng was 21 & 14.

    Of course, after an exhaustive scouting effort our FO came up with a zombie-like wing player from a mediocre program with mediocre college stats who is now impersonating an NBA player, aka Tony Snell. Another effort where he did not produce literally anything positive and Thibs had to pull him. Tony makes the Bears' drafting of Shea McClellan look like a stroke of genius.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Snell was a huge bust, the fact that he really wasn't noteworthy in college and was a reach makes it even more of a questionable move.

    I'm with you in taking Plumlee, Dieng, or Hardaway over him. That said, I'll still take the Bulls drafts relative to almost anyone if you actually look at the real draft history of every team.

    This one is the most disappointing in some ways though, with Tyrus you totally understood why they did it. If he got his head together, he could have been a star. With Johnson, you saw the physical skills and athleticism. With Teague, there really was no one else, and he had elite athleticism.

    With Snell, he had a bunch of red flags and was rated as a second rounder by many. Three guys we probably would have all preferred for logical reasons that fit Bulls needs went in the next three picks, and all three have had better careers.

    This miss hurts the most because there were obvious viable alternatives, and it felt like a bad pick on draft day. The others were defensible but didn't work. This felt like a stretch and it was.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Careful BigWay! Gar Forman might fire you for questioning personnel moves - just like he fired assistant coach Ron Adams the very next day after drafting Tony Snell (his New Mexico State boy toy) instead of Hardaway, Dieng or Plumlee.

  • In reply to Edward:

    I understand you're jabbing at Gar, but you try publicly dissing your boss and see how long you keep your job, even if you're right.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    maybe he could play instead of Nazr and give Noah a real reserve. The Boozer plan does sound good, though.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I think Greg Smith was cut by the Rockets after the March 1st deadline, meaning he will not be eligible for the playoffs. From what I've read, it sounds like he has a guaranteed contract for next year and this move is purely a move to sign a backup big for next season. That said, this is a very solid move for the Bulls. Smith has looked pretty decent in limited minutes and should fit in well as a back-up next year.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    OOPS, Real GM reporting that Smith is done for the season, but the Bulls have signed him for next season(guaranteed). Still like the move, as I have been screaming for another big physical bigman. Next year looks like Noah/Smith, Mirotic/Taj, or is it Taj/Mirotic.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I think it's a nice move for the Bulls. I haven't watched Smith play, but his numbers are very strong for a vet minimum big man.

    Effort/defense was questioned as a draft prospect, but the fact that he worked himself up from undrafted through the D-League back to the NBA means he must have gotten at least passably better.

  • Assuming he is healthy, the Smith pick-up is a decent move by the FO. I believe his strong suit is his nimbleness around the basket on offense. Not much of a rim protector on defense. He is generously listed at 6'10" but if you look at him he appears shorter. Has an NBA body, however.

    This probably means the Bulls will pass on this year's bigs in the draft. I thought Cauley-Stein, if available, could have been a decent back-up 5. Not impressed by any of those Euro-stiffs, however. Bulls will be in the market for one of the decent scoring wings available or will package the pick(s) as part of a trade. If the Bulls keep their picks I would like to see them grab either Hood, Young, Stauskas, or McDaniels with one of them. If the Bulls are unable to sign DJ, a smart move in my opinion would be to grab Napier with the second first-round pick.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    With Cauley Stein and Montrezl Harrell both announcing their return to school next year, this Greg Smith signing is looking better and better as a 4th big behind Noah, Taj, and either Mirotic/Boozer. It will be interesting to see what the Bulls do with their picks.

  • In reply to Motoman:

    I agree, I really like the Greg Smith signing. It's a smart move, a small move but a smart one.

  • In reply to Edward:

    It's smart because they add a capable backup big without using a draft pick!

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