It wasn't pretty. It sure didn't look repeatable, but the Bulls managed to win game three pushing the series to 2-1 in favor of the Wizards. No one has ever come back from 0-3, so it's fair to say this was a must win game for Chicago. They won. Unfortunately, in the win, little happened to make me feel that further wins are likely.
Dunleavy scores 35 on 8-10 beyond the arc
Mike Dunleavy brought the Bulls back, built up leads, and overall crushed the Wizards. His 35 on 19 shots gave the Bulls the efficient offense they needed in order to hang in this game. Overall, the Bulls offense was good, but Dunleavy became the shot maker. Noah and Hinrich had just four attempts each, and really the only player to shoot badly was D.J. Augustin.
However, Dunleavy stole the show. It seemed like every second possession he was knocking down threes. His confidence was high, he was hitting threes while doing quick stops off off-ball screens rather than just taking open looks on catch and shoots. He looked like if he was a bit more crafty that by the end of this game, he could have forced about five fouls with guys jumping out at him on his pump fakes as well. Maybe an adjustment for next game.
The Bulls won this game because of Mike Dunleavy, but the scary thing is, you're not getting another 8-10 game from beyond the arc game out of Dunleavy again. As Antawn Jamison said nine years ago, it was his birthday today. Happy birthday. The Bulls will need to find a new strategy for next game, but the Wizards will be forced to adjust.
If they continue to double Dunleavy on every catch off the pick then someone's open, and Chicago just needs to review the game film to see where to pass.
Jimmy Butler wins and Tony Snell almost loses it
With the shot clock winding down on a tie game, Jimmy Butler launched a three. I can't say I was overly confident in this shot, Bulls fans everywhere were probably fairly skeptical about the odds of this one going down. However Butler swished it straight threw and the Wizards couldn't match.
After a few rough plays, and some made free throws, the Wizards had the ball 80 feet from the basket with no time outs and down by five, Tony Snell does the only possible thing he could do to give Washington a chance to win this game. He fouls John Wall 80 feet from the basket while John Wall is attempting a shot.
Did Tom Thibodeau not tell everyone just stay away? It would take them more than four seconds to get the ball down the floor. Even if they threw a three from 80 feet away, the whole shot clock would likely expire while the ball is in the air. The only way the Washington has a chance is if you stop the clock for them.
I'm trying to think of a dumber basketball that I've seen in my life, but nothing comes to mind. Tony Snell's an idiot for not knowing what's going on, but Thibodeau has to take the blame for not telling him. Sort of an irrelevancy as the Wizards lost anyway, but just mindblowingly stupid.
Will Nene get suspended?
For whatever reason, Nene decided he wanted to be Brendan Haywood/Kevin Garnett tough in this one and pick on a guy who's about 60-80 lbs lighter than he is. After Nene hits a layup he shoves Butler out of the way running back up the court. Then Butler gives him a much lighter push back with one hand just to say "I'm here".
Nene then turns around and goes head to head with Butler who doesn't back down. Both players stood their foreheads pressed together in moment where you know the "no punching" rule is flying through both their heads. Jimmy Butler appeared to be saying "let's go" to Nene, who then grabs Butler's head with one hand and then his other.
Butler for his part didn't really react much, a ref intercedes and Nene wound up like he was going to throw a punch which never happened. Nene was the instigator and escalator in this scuffle and was ejected for his douchery. I suspect he won't get suspended for a game because he got held back from throwing the punch, but the league will look at it, and I think there's a shot he will.
Butler would appear safe from any disciplinary action as his shove of Nene was light, with one hand, and the kind of thing that happens 100 times a game. Nene had all the real action after that. Starting, escalating once by going head to head, then escalating again by grabbing Butler with his hands. Still no punches thrown, my guess is he suits up next game but it could go either way.
How do we fix Joakim Noah?
Joakim Noah was supposed to be so good he might get a few MVP votes, but he's completely disappeared for Chicago. The Bulls aren't getting much in the way of assists, he's turning the ball over frequently, and his shot attempts (and points) are way down.
I was concerned in the regular season that Noah's passing wouldn't translate to the playoffs. Nene has shown the blue print on how to stop Noah. Instead of laying off of him and giving him space which opens the passing lanes, he plays right on top of Noah and dares him to put the ball on the floor.
Noah hasn't been all that successful in that area so far, and that's one of the adjustments we'll need to see from Noah.
Give a little credit to Thibodeau. We've complained about his lack of adjustments for much of the season, but he found a way to get Tony Snell some burn to give Jimmy Butler some rest in the second period. He also put Mike Dunleavy back in the game in the end when he was hot to space the floor and pulled Hinrich from the end lineup.
He made adjustments based on the game rather than just sticking with his typical rotations, and it worked out well for the Bulls. Hopefully he keeps being flexible the rest of the series.
Curse of the Wizards?
The Bulls were just 20-30 from the free throw line. Noah was 2-6, and Gibson was 3-6. Those aren't rare types of numbers for your typical big men, but they're rare for ours. If Chicago didn't manage to win this game, they'd look back at the missed free throws and smack themselves for it.
That said, the fact that they left some points on the board gives a little more hope for how well they can play if they clean that up next time.
Can they do it again?
The Bulls climbed back into the series. Also down 2-1 right now? Indiana, Oklahoma City, Houston. I know they say the odds of coming back from 0-2 are very slim, but it's worth noting that much of those odds are created by 8-1 and 7-2 matchups where the teams aren't even remotely on the same talent level.
The Bulls now have the odds of the 1-2 team, and those are considerably better even if not great.
To go with the coin flip analogy. The Bulls need to win three of the next four coin flips instead of two of the next four. It's not necessarily likely, but it's certainly not out of the question.
Filed under: Uncategorized