By the end of the game it looked like Chicago was simply trying to pad Whiteside's block stats. He needn't worry about whether that last shot was a goal tend or a block for #10, because the Bulls would make sure he got a couple more.
The in thing to do when the Bulls lose to a struggling team is to blast the effort. I don't think the Bulls set a season high in grit against Miami, but they didn't sleep walk through the game either. Luol Deng scored 15 on 15 shots, Bosh 20 on 20 shots, that's not bad for Chicago defensively.
Dwyane Wade scored 26 on 18 shots, but in the fourth quarter he went through a stretch where he was superstar Dwyane Wade and just knocked down step back, heavily contested, long twos one after the other. I'm living with that shot at this point in Wade's career, and if he makes 4/5 of those in a row then hats off to him.
Chicago lost this game with their inability to score. Derrick Rose had been shooting 50%+ from the three point line over his past six games but was 0-6. Gasol, Snell, Butler, Hinrich, and Rose combined for 1-15 [with Snell getting the one] on the night from downtown.
Brooks and Mirotic combined for 6-9 from three which was perhaps the only offense Chicago had going for it that night, but the Bulls didn't go to them much. Instead, they kept feeding the post when it was crystal clear that neither Taj Gibson nor Pau Gasol was going to get anything done against Hassan Whiteside.
Whiteside really had a monster game on defense, and the impressive thing is he showed tremendous patience, not buying all the pump fakes and trickery, the Bulls tried to get him to play over aggressively to draw fouls, but were largely unsuccessful in doing so.
In the end, you'd like to think the Bulls could hold Miami down to 90 points or so, but what you can't do against any NBA team is shoot 35% from the field and expect to win. The Bulls lost this game on poor shooting plain and simple.
Bulls can't cope with athletic big men
This is a game the Bulls needed to finish with Joakim and Gibson. I'm not sure if Jo's ankle was kicked up limiting his play, but Hassan Whiteside just destroyed the Bulls.
He destroyed them because Pau Gasol had no answer for his athleticism while defending him, and the Bulls found no one who could score on the other end. Whiteside has virtually no offensive skill outside of the dunk, but that didn't stop him from scoring all over Chicago.
Pau couldn't box him out, couldn't keep up with him, and while the Bulls were trying to make a late game push Whiteside had dunk after dunk because Gasol simply couldn't deal with him.
It was a time for Noah, particularly given that the Bulls were getting nothing out of Gasol on offense. That said, with Noah's recent play it's hard to argue it would have helped any, but at some point you had to try IMO.
No spacing = no shooting
The Bulls had no spacing on the floor, and because no one was hitting shots, the Heat clamped down on the paint even more. The worst thing about Rose, Snell, Butler, and Hinrich combining for 1/14 from beyond the arc was that most of the looks were wide open.
Hinrich airballed a wide open corner three. Snell was 1-4 [and thus the champion of the group for at least hitting one] but took his shots with no one in his zip code. The Bulls were getting high quality looks from beyond the arc but simply couldn't make Miami pay for it.
If they hit a few of those threes the whole game is different, beyond it being a nail biter at the end in terms of score, the Heat wouldn't have been able to sag five guys into the lane to shut down the drive.
So how good is Jimmy Butler?
Jimmy Butler started out this season like an MVP. He's still putting up solid games. He's still filling out the box score in a wide array of areas, but he's also giving Chicago plenty of games like this one.
He contributed five boards, a couple assists [impressive to have any given the Bulls shooting woes], a couple of blocks, but was just 2/8 from the field. The Heat don't have a good perimeter defender to stick on him, he should have been living at the free throw line or killing guys in the post.
This was a game I'd have expected Butler to play really well in offensively given his matchup, but he simply couldn't do it.
The NBA seems to have adjusted to Butler, and we'll now see if he can adjust back to the NBA. If not, the Bulls still have an excellent player. He still contributes in all phases of the game. He draws fouls, defends, rebounds, passes, and plays the right way.
However, pretty good chance he's more Luol Deng than James Harden.
Taj really is a black hole, and that's usually not so bad
On many occasions Taj Gibson fighting in the post is no problem. He keeps fighting until he scores or draws a foul and frequently does so with efficiency. He scores on plenty of baskets where I think the smart play would be to pass the ball back out.
Then there are games like this one. Games where he doesn't have it going on, and he keeps fighting and fighting anyway just to get stuffed repeatedly. At the end of the day, this is who Taj is. Once he gets the ball on the inside he morphs into Eddy Curry.
That ball isn't coming back out. Frequently good things happen, sometimes they don't. Taj was only 3/10 from the field with six of his seven misses being shoved back down in his face, many by Hassan Whiteside. Still, he got to the foul line on four other possessions which was big for Chicago.
It's not the best, but it's not the worst either. It just feels like the worst today. It'd be easy to say he has to make better decisions down there, but he scores on many of those decisions I don't think are so great. It's just his game.
Kirk Hinrich gives you nothing in 4/5 games
It shocks me that Kirk still has fans. He has the occasional good game, and I always give him credit when he does, but this guy is killing the Bulls in four out of five games. He has the lowest PER of any player in the NBA with over 25 mpg.
For players with over 25 minutes (157 total guys), he's in the bottom 30 in virtually every advanced stat category. Do you know how challenging that is? Most guys are specialists at something so they compete in some area.
His defensive rating, offensive rating, vorp, TS%, win score, and PER all rank him as god awful. You'd think he'd at least have a good defensive rating, but no, he's not good there either. He doesn't set up the offense well, he doesn't shoot well, he doesn't defend well, and he contributes in virtually no other aspect of the game.
Yes, he tries hard. Yes, he hustles. Yes, he cares. However, the game has passed him by. He doesn't have the athleticism to do what he used to do anymore, and he doesn't have the skill level in terms of ball handling or shooting to make up for it.
Classic trap game
The Bulls had just beaten two Western Conference playoff teams. They have the Warriors on the road on Tuesday. Anyone else think they were overlooking Miami a bit? Who knows.
Day games are always a bit weird, and it seems the Bulls typically don't play well in them. The players are often out of rhythm because their sleep pattern has to change so much for the game.
It's easy to think of reasons why the Bulls may have struggled in this one, but in the end, there have been too many games like this. Games where the Bulls are heavy favorites and simply drop the rope. Too many of those have been at home.
I'm not sure what's happened to Chicago there, but if they don't want to finish in a 4/5 matchup with Cleveland in the East. That's not how you want the first round to go. They need to get their stuff together or they're in serious danger of that happening.
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