Bulls annihilated by Cavaliers

The Chicago Bulls put up little fight against the Cleveland Cavaliers continuing their stretch of lousy play.

In the end, Chicago simply couldn't hit shots. Their defense was nothing special. Their rebounding was pathetic, but in the end they couldn't hit shots.

Chicago had all kinds of open looks, but they didn't knock them down. They shot only 37.5% from the field and given their other deficiencies it wasn't nearly enough to stay in the game against Cleveland.

Derrick continues hot three point shooting

Rose was 3/5 from beyond the arc which was considerably better than his 2/9 inside of it. He did get to the line for five FT attempts, but overall it wasn't one of Rose's better games as he had just two assists though part of that was poor shooting by the team.

Derrick's been a bit up and down on the season of course, but it's fairly promising that his three point shooting has been very solid for four straight games. It's one of the few things that has gone well over that stretch for Chicago.

He's 18/32 over that stretch and has raised his season percentage to 31% from 25% before the hot stretch. I'm skeptical about whether Rose can keep it up, but it's certainly one of the few positive signs Chicago has going for it.

Pau Gasol is playing like a seven million dollar player

Gasol looks like he'll make the all-star team and his stats are fine, but he's hurting the Bulls on defense and the glass tremendously. Perhaps even more so than Carlos Boozer because Boozer at least rebounded.

Gasol does play interior defense and blocks plenty of shots when guys drive into him, but he's awful on the pick and roll and doesn't make any effort to get out to defend jump shooters.

It's not his fault per se, this is who he is. He's an older player without much foot speed and simply isn't quick enough to handle the responsibilities in the Bulls system. The Bulls will live with what he brings, but they need to dial back his minutes at times.

With Noah out, the Bulls have had little choice but to ride him, but they've shown a tendency to do that regardless of what is going on.

On offense, Gasol was flustered by Cleveland's Timofey Mozgov. He's struggled against big physical players for most of the year. His big nights typically come against undersized front courts. With that said, it seems likely that Gasol is going to set us up for playoff disappointment.

Jimmy Butler was okay I suppose

Butler had an alright game. He scored 20, got to the line a bunch, and had a pedestrian shooting day. I think this level is probably similar to what we can expect from Butler on a more consistent basis.

He was 6/16 from the field with a bunch of free throws and while he'll probably shoot better than 37.5% from the field going forward the FG% he was sporting earlier probably wasn't sustainable. I expect more games like this from Butler going forward.

Still, on a day where your shot isn't falling, to score 20 on 16 shots isn't bad. It reminds me of an off game from a prime Paul Pierce or Dwyane Wade where he couldn't get his shot to fall but made up for it by getting to the line.

Nikola Mirotic slumping

Nikola only got one shot up in 15 minutes and missed it. He's now shot 33% or worse from the field in six straight games. Some of those games he's gotten to the line for FTs or hit enough threes to compensate for poor shooting, but overall, Mirotic isn't shooting the ball well.

He's lost his aggressiveness. He frequently gets the ball with room and doesn't shoot or drive right away but pump fakes which allows his defender time to close. He needs to either shoot or drive immediately to take advantage of the space he gets.

Mirotic needs to keep playing in order to improve is defensive instincts. He's a willing defensive player, but he's not naturally in the right place at the right time yet either.

Tony Snell gives the Bulls a lift

Tony Snell wasn't perfect out there. He was careless with the ball at times, but he gave the Bulls a lift with 12 points on 4/8 shooting. He did a nice job helping on the glass as well, and he continues his run of playing better basketball.

He was one of the few players who played well for Chicago and did much of his damage when the Bulls were still in the game rather than collecting stats in garbage time.

Kirk Hinrich was scary bad

Hinrich's 0-4 from the field was nothing new or surprising, but as a PG he missed several good opportunities to get the Bulls easy baskets by leading the break poorly or not seeing the floor.

Defensively, he got turned around on a bunch of plays letting his man get easy baskets.

In short, while we don't expect much from Hinrich in terms of shooting, we expect him to perform in other areas, and he couldn't do that either.

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  • Doug, I've read for years your writing that when Thibs leaves, the Bulls will become worse. And I've agreed.

    But this season was always going to be a referendum on Thibs -- can he take the next step? So far, the answer is no. We have to seriously start wondering if Thibs is strictly an A-to-B coach -- maybe the best A-to-Be coach ever -- but not really a B-to-C coach. Sure, give him LeBron and Wade and Bosh and he probably gets rings with the Heat, but no more than Spoelstra did.

    Also, I question how much Rose really helps the team by knocking down 3s. You wrote that Afflalo is the kind of player teams leave open, and he hurts you, while teams don't leave Dunleavy open, which opens things up for teammates. Teams will let Rose take as many 3s as he wants and will live with getting hurt by it, but it does nothing for Rose's teammates. Rose needs to attack the basket to create for teammates.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Hello Roman F,
    Just last week you were referring to Thibs as one of the top coaches in the NBA. So which is it? Granted you were not alone, many others were caught up in fawning media spin as well.

    I will continue to refer to Thibs as a career assistant coach masquerading as a head coach, and I've felt so for a couple years now. A head coach cannot continue to struggle for years with basic responsibilities of head coaching (matchups, adjustments, rotations, and minutes management) and be considered a top coach.

  • In reply to Edward:

    I said I've agreed with Doug all along. But my mind is changing. Maybe Thibs is just an amazing A to B coach but strictly an A to B coach.

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    This was by far one of the least entertaining games the Bulls played this year. I was expecting at least a fair fight and a close game. Even if the Bulls lost with good effort and put up a good fight I would of been happy. However, they looked pathetic out there with no energy and definitely they did not look like they were having fun out there. They did not look like our Bulls. I think some thing is up that we the fans don't know about. At least not yet.

  • Last night Kenny Smith at halftime showed how Kyrie Irving hurts the Cavs in the half court by walking the ball up the court, surveying the defense, and making a lazy pass to a teammate who has to come out and get the ball and is in no position to attack the defense. By the time the Cavs made a pass to a player ready to be an offensive threat, the shot clock was under 10 and they had to put up a bad shot from a tough position to beat the clock. Rose does this to start every game, and I don't know why Thibs lets him get away with it. Our halfcourt offense slows to a crawl, the off the ball movement becomes just going through the motions, and the team is lifeless. It carries over to the defensive end as well. Rose needs to either play with pace and aggressiveness or sit out. You can't run an offense around a player going at half speed.

  • I did not get the feeling the Cavs were playing exceptional basketball last night. I'm guessing they lose that game if they were playing against Washington/Atlanta/Toronto. Yet they still managed to convincingly whoop the Bulls by 20 points. Chicago is not a good team right now, and they would struggle to get through a 1st-round playoff series, even if they managed to end up with home court advantage.

    One problem lies with the big men. What was originally viewed as a versatile, deep front court has devolved into an albatross of diminishing returns. Our DPOY is playing out of position, and both Pau and Noah are severely lacking athleticism and aggressiveness due to age and health issues respectively.

    The 3-spot is a serious weakness right now. Dunleavy is a strong role player, but is not a starter on a championship caliber team. The Bulls need to bring in a guy like Afflalo to play SG, and move Butler back to the SF position. This puts Dunleavy back on the bench, and gives the second unit a strong outside shooting threat.

    The backcourt, and the rest of the team, is at the mercy of Rose, and his lackadaisical approach to the start of each and every game. This style of play might be accommodating to his long-term health, but it's killing the team. If Rose is unable to be aggressive during all his time on the court, the Bulls lose the superstar variable in their championship equation. I also contend that Butler is playing out of position. He is NOT a SG. I don't care that he played great in December; that was an aberration, and he is not able to maintain a high level of intensity on both ends of the floor for an entire game. Move him to SF, let him focus on defense, and revert back to a third option on offense (this assumes they bring in an Afflalo-type).

    Something needs to be shaken up. The Bulls have completely lost any sense of focus and motivation, and are on track for a first-round playoff loss. They don't even make the playoffs in the West at this rate.

  • In reply to BullsMan:

    All the attention has been on Rose's effort on the offensive side of the court. We basically ignore and give him a pass on the defensive end where he has essentially become a Ben Gordon clone.

    He cannot stay in front of anybody. Then after he loses his man he just gives up on the play completely and stands around watching the action. There were 2 blatant examples last night where Mirotic helped to stop Irving on a drive resulting in a missed shot and all Rose had to do was put/keep his body between Mosgov and the basket to allow us to get the rebound, instead he actually backed away and ended up behind the backboard as Mosgov rebounded the ball for an uncontested putback. This has to be very demoralizing for the Bulls big men.

    The Bulls got annihilated on the boards again last night, this type of play by Rose and the other guards wings is certainly a part of the problem.

  • This is turning out to be a disappointing season and it appears to now having locker room issues. This team, in a matter of 2 weeks turned from a top contender to a non-playoff team. What we know from 2 weeks ago:

    1) Dunlevey was playing the 3 and Butler the 2. Butler was playing like an All Star
    2) Noan was on the starting lineup, but not playing his best yet.
    3) Bulls were clicking on offense and playing average defense.
    4) Bench was very productive

    Since Dunlevey's injury
    1) Butler moved to 3
    2) Kirk mainly became a starting 2
    3) Offense went from elite to average at best
    4) Bench production came down

    Since Noah's injury
    1) Taj assumed the starting position
    2) Defense became below average
    3) Offense went from average to below average

    So, injuries to 2 key players may have resulted into the Bull's collapse, but I think the most devastating of all is the lost of Noah, who is the heart and soul of this team. If we have any hope to get back into contention, we need to get our starters healthy, otherwise, it will be very hard to watch this team continues falling apart.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    As some of us contended even while they were going 13-2, they were still not playing that well, and were certainly not a lock to win anything, even a first round playoff matchup with Lebronland.

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    Piggy..uve got to be kidding me! U have to choose.... first people say the bulls need to est. the post game...so yes Rose would walk the ball up..but when Gasol sucks people say Rose needs to be aggressive.... sheesh just pick one sorry but these last 4 games are far from Rose's fault...actually Rose and Taj and Brooks have been the only ones really competing meanwhile Gasol gets destroued on D. Butler is playing like the Butler I know...and please dont give me the stat sheet from last night 12 out of those 20 points were garbage time bulls didnt have a chance....Noah is not the difference maker...DUNLEAVY IS! he stretches the floor gives lanes for the guards to be aggressive...now everyone packs the paint...when Dunleavy gets back u will see a difference but u have to smoking something to even try to blame Rose for these last few games!

  • In reply to Ron Webb:

    hard to be a difference maker when you average 3,2,1 points, rebounds, assists as Dunleavy did over a 6 game stretch right before he got hurt.

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    In reply to BigWay:

    doesnt matter what he averaged he stretches the floor right or wrong?

  • Today's equation: If Klank Chokebrick is y and x is Thibs where x + y = banging your head against a wall(squared). To simply find the value of x where Thibs stubborn penchant for "veterans" who "do their job" and "play the right way" and take x as a constant multiplied by y(being Kirk's horrific should have retired two years ago ass) to find y as in y the fuck is he still on this team after all these GD years??

    Look, I was laughing as I wrote the "not" algebraic equation above. Honestly, I'm not going to play Don Quixote and let this crap bother me anymore. Aaron Brooks shot .556 from the field and .667 from three for 16 points in 18 minutes with three assists and and a steal. Do I really need to bother with Klank's stat line? Most relevant as always is the human sandbag for your NBA offense is not only infuriatingly your starter, but occupied 26 and a half minutes of corrosive court time.

    Thibs I hate you and your morose carping f-ing guts just as Jo, Taj, and probably Aaron Brooks does(and should if he doesn't) by now and rightfully so. You suck goat balls and sweaty acrid left out in the sun for weeks goat balls at that.

    Other then that though, great job coaching as always. Keep up the good work you **&#&**#*((()^^%*#@@(* a-hole.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Whatever defensive value Hinrich provided last season is gone, and he has become a black hole, tucked inside an abyss, hiding within a dark chasm, lost in a void of nothingness that has fallen off the cliff of existence.

    Bogans at least provided some defensive effort, and Boozer could fill a stat sheet with points and rebounds, so there was some shred of an argument for playing those guys (starting roles was a bit much though). There is no argument for sticking with Hinrich. He does not have a stat line, and does not provide any "intangibles". It is simply incomprehensible as to what value Thibs thinks Hinrich is giving this team.

  • In reply to BullsMan:

    I'm literally at the point where Thibs should be fired simply for playing(especially starting) PieceOfShitrich. His level of uselessness is so obvious to anyone and everyone that he no longer belongs in the NBA. I doubt that he could play in highschool.

    Hangdog should be cut immediately, and the Kripsy Kreme Pansey(Gasol) should be sent to the bench immediately upon Noah's return.

    and if Thibs balks at either move, fire him and hire someone from the Spurs coaching tree.

  • Wow, that was excruciatingly frustrating to watch. Where to start? Continually missing short jumpers and shots within 2 feet of the rim. Even shots at the rim. It was stunning.

    I don't know what was worse - the lack of defensive effort or the pathetic offense? How can you only put up 39 at the half against Cleveland, who gives up 100ppg to just about anyone?

    Early on, Gibson was about he only player keeping Chicago in the game. I was waiting for him to go down with an severe ankle sprain or something...

    I was defending Thibs just 3 days ago on this website, but this was bad. Either Thibs needs to go, or this team needs to be broken up.

    Maybe Butler's looking ahead to his next contract? Rose may be in his own world with his own agenda? Noah is just trying to play but he is obviously not right. Is it something with Gasol and Noah? Something tied to minutes? What could it be?

  • The Bulls just look weak right now. Can't score, can't make wide open shots, missing everything around the rim, can't defend, can't rebound, can't hold on to the ball, stupid turnovers, ridiculous fouls you name it. It's some of the ugliest basketball you can play. The only one on the team that looks like he's really trying to win is Derrick Rose, and he can't do it on his own especially playing with a minutes restriction.

    Honestly I blame Gasol for a lot of the problems. He's just so slow and he plays no defense at all. He gets killed by whoever he's guarding and not just offensively but he gets out rebounded as well. Then when he does get a rebound or goes to post up it's like he has no grip on the ball because teams consistent slap the ball right out of his hands or he drops it out of bounds. It doesn't matter that he's getting a double double every game, that only looks good in the stat sheets. It's the manner in which he's getting it that bothers me. There's so much more to the game than just being able to score, and when he's unable to score he's totally useless on the court. The Bulls need to bench Gasol and put Noah and Taj as the starters. At least that would help set the tone defensively.

    I also don't understand how the hell Hinrich is a starter or why he's even getting so many minutes. This guy doesn't do anything to improve the situation. He doesn't compliment any of the starters because he can't knock down a single field goal even when he's wide open. When a guy plays 26 minutes and has more fouls and turnovers than points something is seriously wrong, not to mention he gets killed by whoever he's guarding because he's undersized and has no athleticism to speak of. That reputation he has as being a good defender is completely outdated. This isn't 2007 he's old and slow now and needs to be on the bench. Aaron Brooks and ETwaun Moore should both be playing more than him, I blame the coach for that call. I know the Bulls are paying some of these guys more than others to play but that's the GM's problem. As a coach you need to make the decisions that's best for your team. If somebody gets butt hurt because it insults their ego then they need to play better, plain and simple. If they demand a trade then they'll be doing us all a favor.

  • In reply to ajaychitown:

    Speaking of trades it may be time to get rid of Thibideau, he really doesn't look like he knows what he's doing. He has some of the worst rotations and minutes I've ever seen. The Bulls are the only team in the NBA that would have Hinrich as your starting 2. At best he's a 3rd-string point guard at this stage in his career and really should be coming behind Brooks or playing in garbage time with Bairstow.

  • If the Bulls were to cut Hinrich right now, straight up, they'd improve because then Thibs couldn't play him. He'd be forced to give more minutes to Brooks and Moore and even Snell, and they'd all be improvement. Hinrich could help another team with 5-10 minutes per game but Thibs doesn't use him like that, he likes to ride him so Kirk has to be taken away from Thibs.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I agree with you, Roman, and with Ajay and with just about all us fans about Kirk. Too bad, but he is a shell of what he used to be. I guess Thibs keeps hoping he will morph back to his old self.

    Maybe Thibs keeps playing Kirk to force the FO into trading him for a decent G like Afflalo. Not that Afflalo is fabulous, but at least he is a starting quality SG.

    Of course, to make that trade the Bulls would likely have to include their 1st rounder, which right now seems to be getting more valuable with each game!

    This is crazy!

  • In reply to rustyw:

    How about the Krispy Kreme Pansey(Gasol) for Nurkic, I'd even throw in our first round pick, although at the rate things are going downhill around here, that might end up as a lottery pick.

  • Even though Noah and Dunleavey are out, this team should have done better.

    Some poor shot selection.
    Lack of blocking out opposition for rebounds
    lack of movement of other players while getting caught in traps
    running into traps
    poor rebounding

    I say there will be a big clean house project next season.
    Hinrich, Noah, Gibson...all gone

    Coach Tibbs running out of time with this team.

  • Side note: you know another annoyance? All these trade constraining promises. I mean Who in the hell gets "guarantees" in an ultra competitive environment like pro sports that they will not be traded/in play for opportunities for the franchise that could potentially improve the ball club? Particularly marginal players like Mike Dunleavy and Klank? That is beyond f-ing stupid.

    We know Thibs isn't going anywhere this season(i.e if the players have "tuned him out" we're probably fucked anyway). Unless a shakeup in personnel could improve the team's ability to win i.e a light at the end of the tunnel to turn around this ongoing free fall.

    Are the Bulls really relying on the return of 34 year old Mike Dunleavy to turn around this ongoing free fall? Promises, promises. This includes who Gasol, Noah, the ball boy?? Give me a break already.

  • Wow, Bulls canceled practice unexpectedly and Derrick Rose went off on the team. Just saw that a few minutes ago.

    Things definitely don't look good, but this may be what the Bulls need.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Doug - read my link to Sheridan Hoops below on that subject.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Like I said yesterday, this looks like a team on the verge of an implosion, maybe this is the start of it.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    All this needs is Gasol leading a vote to suspend Mirotic and we're 2007-08 again. So long Tom, may your remaining hair treat you better than Scott's did.

  • I was going to go on a tirade about Thibs, but thankfully RoadWarrior echoed my feelings and saved me a lot of time and venom. I'll just say I wanted Thibs fired after the Rose blown ACL game. Nothing I have seen since has shown me anything of a coach who has grown.

    Perhaps hope is on the way as being reported by Sheridan Hoops: http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2015/01/20/sheridan-thibodeau-on-hot-seat-as-bulls-crumbling-internally/.

    Thibs has lost this team, period. Couple that with Rose's diva attitude, Gasol's LA vibe, Kirk's 0 stat line and players breaking down and what you have is a formula for disaster.

    Sid note: In a blowout game where your team shows no sign of life your head coach can't find any minutes for Doug McDermott?

  • Another game where we trailed from start to finish and never looked to even have a chance at any point in the game, I believe that is now 3 games out of the last 4 where that has happened.

    For those of you who didn't think that the Mosgov acquisition was a big deal for the Cavs, maybe you noticed that he completely neutered the Krispy Kreme Pansey(KKP) last night. No make than castrated him, I think that his(KKP) balls are still laying crushed somewhere behind the backboard along both baselines in Cleveland.

    Mosgov was exactly what they needed, a role playing big physical guy in the middle willing to compete physically with anyone in the league, while not being an absolute stiff. They didn't need a superstar, every championship team has it essential contributing role players, Mosgov was the perfect fit for them. I expect Shumpert to be the same type of fit for them at SG.

    Can't we just trade the KKP for Nurkic, I'll even throw in a first round pick. The POSdog just needs to be incinerated.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Oh yea, I almost forgot about this Hangdog gem from the first quarter, you know its bad when the ultimate Homer, Aggrey Sam actually calls you out by name.

    "No play was more indicative of the Bulls’ sloppiness than when Kirk Hinrich, by himself, simply lost the ball out of bounds with four minutes left in the first quarter already down 18-13."

    I'm not sure that in my 45 years of watching the NBA I've ever seen a guy just lose his dribble like that in the backcourt without a single player anywhere near him. Hangdog literally cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. He has to be the biggest waste of $68 million dollars in the history of humanity.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I give a lot of credit to both the Cleveland and Memphis FOs for identifying what their teams needed and then going out and getting the pieces that fit those needs. The Mosgov, Shumpert and Smith acquisitions will, IMO, launch the Cavs to the second seed in the East.

    I understand that trades are not easy to make and panicking often backfires on teams. A good example was when the Bulls traded two future all-stars (Artest and Miller) for a world-class chucker in Jalen Rose. That probably set the team back about five years. There are several players in the D League better than Hinrich and Snell. For example, the Knicks just got this guy (Galloway, I think) who scored 31 points in a game. Klank couldn't score 31 points with Beyoncé guarding him.

  • Let's face it: Thibs fits the exact mold of the type of coach who players eventually tune out, a grinder/yeller. "Work harder" is a great answer to many questions, but it is not the only answer to all questions. Heck, I'm tuning Thibs out because I already know what he's going to say. Yelling at your players the entire game makes yelling have no impact. So unless Thibs is the first type of grinder/yeller coach who players don't tune out, it's just a matter of time.

  • The contending teams in this league know what it's about. A championship. There's not a lot of clutter in their heads. The Bulls have had nothing but clutter. Dunleavy and Noah were the only starters coming into the season whose first priority was probably really a championship, and they haven't been in much position to help us.

  • I read the Sheridan Hoops article on Thibsy. Interesting. Thanks to V.N for the link.

  • First comment said it best: this year is a referendum on Thibs' ability to grow - to make sacrifices himself too. When this team was winning, when the shots were dropping, our defense sucked but no-one minded because we were beating good teams even while we were missing players. Plus we turned up our defense in the fourth quarter for some good come-backs. Good enough to beat playoff teams on their home turf. Good enough to win awards and favoritism from Las Vegas.

    Then the shots stopped falling, all around the team, and nothing has brought them back with any consistency. So now defense matters, and is emphasized, even though it's exhausting hard work. That's where Thibs' inflexibility hurts! I think the team needs to practice offense more, so the players have more confidence that their open shots will splash in - cos almost every game in this bad streak they've created open shots, they just wont fall, as you've all seen to your endless disgust.

    Thibs needs to sacrifice his inner Jeff Van Gundy and maximise his inner Doc Rivers to quote Sheridan above. Recognize that this is a flowing, shooting, FUN team first and foremost, and bring back that confidence and swag and enjoyment. And he needs to include all the players and rest his veterans for when it matters, as we all know. Bulls will rise or fall on this development as much as on Rose's return to ANY confident consistent form.

    I'm still all in, this team CAN go as far as it needs, injury gods willing. But I'm not sure Thibs can change in midstream to manage this very offensively gifted squad!

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