Bulls don't have enough to win

Chicago looks old, beat up and worn down. They were killing Charlotte then dropped the rope and lost. They were hanging with OKC then fell apart in the closing minutes. With Rose/Butler, they're simply missing too much to get wins.

It doesn't matter so much. The Bulls are presently seeded 4th. The value of 3rd is may decline rapidly with the Indiana Pacers having a strong possibility of passing the Milwaukee Bucks. Especially given Paul George is likely to come back for the playoffs.

I'd still prefer Chicago finish with as high a seed as possible. It would still be great if they could push up to the three seed or at least maintain the four which they stand a fairly good chance of falling behind Washington for.

However, the Bulls are simply going to struggle while missing arguably their two best players and another guy in their top six. There just isn't much else to do about it.

Joakim Noah looks like he's rounding into form despite not being 100%. That said Noah's still on a minutes restriction, and I wish the Bulls would force the guy to sit out rather than play him through this.

The extra week of rest might really help him rather than making two losses close losses instead of not close losses, and even if he had swung one of them to a win, then so what?

About the only thing worth watching games for right now is to see if Doug McDermott develops any and to see Nikola Mirotic's continued growth as a player.

As the Bulls approach the early part of the timeline on Rose/Butler, I hope both players make sure they are ready to go before coming back.

It has to be frustrating watching the team struggle, but the worst thing that can happen is both guys will come back early then struggle more with injuries.

At this point, Chicago's going to lose any seeding advantage anyway. It's more important to salvage health than anything else at this point.

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    As good as The Hawks, Cavs, Warriors, Grizzlies, Rockets, and others look, no NBA team has ever won a championship in March.

    Losing is never good, especially, when the Bulls are in their games for 3 qtrs and seem to fade in the 4th, but that's what inexperienced teams do. They keep it close and have no one who can close out games.

    I'm not sure how the team jell together without having a regular rotation all season long, and Derrick Rose has yet to find his role before going down with another knee injury, but hopefully the team will grow into a strong unit come playoff time. It's all a gamble that's worth taking after many injury plagued playoffs over the past 4 yrs.

  • Injuries has been the theme for the Bulls. I knew before even coming into this season that success would be largely based on health, as has been the case almost every year now. Like I've said from the beginning the Bulls will only go as far as Rose and Noah can take them. Jimmy Butler is a plus, nobody expected him to have this kind of year. His injury is more of a minor freak injury than a serious on-going one like Rose, Noah, and Taj. Also he's still playing for a contract so I fully expect him to come back ready to go even looking like a hero.

    I was just saying over the weekend I don't know why the coaching staff let these guys play through injuries knowing their history of re-injury. I could understand little minor aches and pains but when you have legitimate injuries you need to be resting until your 100 percent. I understand some injuries you have to work it back into shape but that's what physical therapy and practice is for. Taj Gibson is finally out of his walking boot and I suspect he's gonna rush to the court sometime next week to help his team, but does that mean he's healthy? No it does not. These are the times when Nazr and Bairstow should be playing while your main guys heal up. We might lose some games but heck we're losing anyway so it's no big deal.

    Doug I agree the only thing worth watching these days is the growth of Mirotic. That guy's gonna be a star and had he been getting these kind of minutes from the get go he'd win rookie of the year hands down. The Bulls do look old and slow and well that's because they are. Make no mistake this is the supporting cast your management assembled with no strength or athleticism to speak of. Niko's currently the only stud in a sea full of duds.

  • Doug, I disagree with you 100% about the seeding. If I were a Bulls fan, I’d want to finish with the 4th or even the 5th seed, as opposed to the 3rd seed. Avoiding Cleveland in the 2nd round trumps everything for me.

  • In reply to RichG:

    100%, the only team that I really fear if we are 100% healthy is Cleveland, well assuming that Gasol never plays the last 6 minutes of any playoff game.

  • Interesting that Noah was on a 32-minute restriction, and Thibs used nearly all of those 32 minutes in the first 3 quarters. It's as if Thibs was trying to say, "I need Noah 40+ minutes to win, here I'll show you what happens with and without him."

    I think Thibs is probably too professional to play a guy a certain way just to spite his employer but the thought crossed my mind. I agree the best thing is just to bench Noah altogether and let him be as healthy as possible for the playoffs. I wouldn't worry about seeding at all.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Exactly, he could have used 4-5 minutes of Nazr around the quarter breaks to give everybody a break and have some minutes for Noah in reserve at closing time. Who knows what goes on inside that steel reinforced concrete dome of his.

  • I agee, Giving Noah another week or so to heal is not a bad idea. Thank goodness the FO has limited Noah's playing minutes because Thibs is so obviously uncaring and insensitive to players recovering from injury in favor of winning a game during the regular season. Thibs did play Noah 31 minutes intensionally exhausting his playing time to prove his point of view that he needed Noah to play more minutes. This ignorance is why I still believe Thibs is incapable of leading a team to a championship. In the last 3 minutes of Sunday's game Brooks was trying to cover a player 6'9 who made the 3 pointer that killed the Chicago rally and chance to win. Thibs intentionally did this to prove he as the coach should have no player restrictions after 3 years of us noticing teams burnt out or injured at the regular season's end.

  • A Bulls team with poor rebounding, poor effort and mediocre defense. Now that is a recipe for disaster. This is not the Bulls teams that we all loved watching under Thibodeau with the stingy defense, rebounding domination and physical play. Now it seems the opposing team having a free layup drill while our bigs watch and fail to rotate. A soft jumpshooting team that can't shoot or defend, no thanks! give me those defense first teams again. Management needs to get a defensive backup center this summer at the very least.

  • Who cares about the NBA in March... I was busy watching UK-Arkansas yesterday.

    It's going to have to come together for the Bulls in the playoffs. If Rose comes back, it will be just a few games prior to the 1st playoff game. Butler could be slightly sooner.

    I think Rose has something to prove. He's going to be medically cleared and should be 100% (outside of rusty) for the first round and lose that rust if the Bulls can keep moving on. I think he's going to play like it's his only shot at a title... because, who knows, this may be his best shot with the team is currently constructed.

    It becomes harder for Rose to take the long-term view when all the sudden you wake up one day and you are 27. He'll be 27 at the start of next season. A lot of young players fizzle out at 28-30 these days.

    If he's out of the NBA at 30 or 32, but he won a title in 2015 or 2016 with Chicago, he's a hero and his NBA career is a success - although not what it could have been.

  • In reply to Granby:

    My point: At some point, Rose just needs to let it all hang out on the court. He's financial secure. What is he saving himself for? (Don't say his kid's college graduation... ha, ha...)

    He's probably one more devastating injury away from calling it a career. It's easier to rehab at 24 than at 28.

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    In reply to Granby:

    Absolutely. Derrick Rose should just come out and play when his knee is well.

  • In reply to Granby:

    I believe that he will come back this time and go balls to the walls, hopefully he's sick and tired of watching Westbrook, and decides to play like him.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Westbrook has been amazing. Why isn't he in the discuss for MVP? Bc he missed a few games early on in the season??? With so many games without Durant, he's single-handedly kept them in the hunt. Outside of Durant and Westbrook, that roster is barebones. I think their drafting has fallen off in recent years.

  • In reply to Granby:

    You must not be paying attention to the MVP discussion if you're asking that question.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    What I meanbis that he should win over Harden. And LeBron. He only recently joined the discussion. Ibaka now out, too. Maybe not bare bones, but def not a playoff team. The Chicago roster is much deeper and more talented outside of their top couple guys.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Also, I don't think that their talent is bare bones, I love their bigmen now that they got rid of Perkins and replaced him with Kantor. Did you notice how they kicked our bigs asses yesterday, they manhandled them like paper mache rag dolls. Especially going forward I would trade any/all of our bigmen other than Niko for theirs. Heck even that McGary guy, whos looks a bit fat and out of shape would be better than Nazr. Aslo, tell me why they end up with Anthony Morrow and we never looked at him despite our thirst for 3 point shooting. He'd sure be a lot better to look at than Kraptain Klankaroo. and obviously, they ended up with DJ also, who put up a quick 10 points or so in both games against us while Westbrook caught his breath.

  • Perhaps someone can help me with this. What's the point of signing a player as your 5th big (Muhammed) when he is not even a serviceable player? Gasol and Noah were running on fumes. Any decent back-up big man should be able to give you at least 12 minutes in a crunch. Inquiring minds want to know.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    I think I answered my own question. Perhaps Nazr is not a "decent" big man. Which begs the question. Why sign him?

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    I been asking this same question for the longest. I suppose he's there for mentoring and practice purposes, but one has to wonder how you can expect guys to learn something from a dude who can't even do it himself. He's never won anything or done anything special to warrant recognition so what the hell is his purpose? It's a waste of a roster spot that we could use on this injury plagued team. Same goes for Bairstow.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    This and the Kirk signings expose the FO as being limited at talent evaluation. As we see, these second or third level signings can make a difference.

  • If Butler and Rose come back healthy then the Bulls could possibly make it to the ECF unless Cleveland surfaces before that. Still, the team's defense overall has been very suspect. I'm not excited about the playoffs period. I hope the Bulls prove otherwise and play well/advance. Also, Gasol will have his chance to prove the doubters wrong and score effectively in the post season. Seems dubious at best.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I suspect that he will be worse in the playoffs not better, and many if not most of those who still support him as vital to winning will begin to figure it out and turn on him.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I'm not really sold on Gasol. I've seen enough games this season to see that he does more harm than good. While he does do some things well, the things he doesn't do well is a bit hard to overlook when you actually see it in action.

  • During the Phil Jackson, Pippen, Jordan years each team player knew his role and had no questions about what he had to do once in a game. The whole season is almost over and we do not see this on this team. Maybe we don't have enough to win a championship but don't the roles of each player have to be defined. We talk about Rose here but his role has been defined. Brooks's role has been defined but what about the other players on the bench--is Mohammed role to just sit there all season? I am not a coach, but wouldn't it be necessary for each player to know how he fits in a well defined plan?

  • In reply to penwit1:

    That's true, even crap guys like Corey Blount, Dickey Simpkins, Randy Brown, Jud Buechler and Bill Wennington knew their role even though they were abysmal. These Bulls just look like a bunch of scattered sheep on the court.

  • You know how you can tell who the most apathetic and softest players on the Bulls are, just read Sam Smith. The guy just spent half his column today defending Pau Gasol's effort the past 2 nights, you know those 2 nights that we got our butts handed to us on the boards by about 20 per night. The other day it was Hangdog, and for the past 4 years it was boozer. What a clueless dinosaur. Reading him is like reading the insane elitist opinion pages of the NY Times. the only way that a team of Gasol, Boozer and Hangdog could win an NBA game was if they had Jordan and Pippen in their primes as their running mates.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    By the way the guy(Kantor) who got 18 & 18 against us last night was the same guy that Utah(playing about .350 ball at the time)basically salary dumped so that they could start Rudy Gobert, with whom they gone an NBA best 10-2 since.

  • Hopes are still there that the Bulls will be 100% healthy a couple weeks before the playoffs and get the rust off. Also, luck is going to be on the Bulls side where Cavs have to play the Pacers on the first round with Paul George, while the Bulls plays Wizards and Hawks on the first and second rounds. By the ECF, the Bulls are playing their best game and ready to face whomever comes out of the Cavs bracket. So, who cares if the Bulls finish 4th or 5th if everyone is healthy, including Rose?

  • By the way does anybody else think that Brooks blew that pass to Mirotic when he was trying to post up Westbrook and the Bulls still in the game. With a big on a small why put the ball on the floor, put it up there where the big can get it and the small can't also why pass it on the outside instead of the inside of Mirotics body lead him to the rim where he has the advantage. The Bulls basically always suck at feeding the post and trying to take advantage of mismatches in the post. they are so bad that they really shouldn't even bother.

    Double by the way, did anybody notice that Westbrook had as many rebounds(11) as both of our "centers" combined did in nearly 70 minutes of play.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    That turnover was the turning point in the game, in my opinion. My first reaction was that Brooks threw the pass too softly. Perhaps he thought that Mirotic couldn't handle a crisper pass. That, and the questionable location of the pass, as you indicate, seemed to give Westbrook the opportunity to pounce on it for the steal. Good play by Westbrook.

  • Honestly I think it's gonna be a grind no matter who the Bulls face in the 1st round. They have struggled with teams under .500 all season long even at full strength. It came down to the wire with Orlando and they needed a double OT to beat the Sixers. It's sad because a lot of the games the Bulls have lost could have been wins if they would only hustle and put forth an effort. It's like they're not trying hard enough on defense, they're not diving for those loose balls, and they're not fighting for those offensive rebounds. I've reached the conclusion the team we have in place just isn't physically capable. They lack the speed, strength and athleticism to do it on a nightly basis. The way this team is set up they literally have to outwork or outscore their opponents to win games. Outworking only causes fatigue and potential injuries and outscoring currently isn't an option. When you think about it the Bulls are built more like a baseball team. In the MLB it's not uncommon to have nonathletic middle aged players.

  • This is sort of the last limp of the Rose-Noah era. Gasol, while a nice player, isn't really what this team needed. Far more importantly, the only way this team wins is that Rose not only comes back, but that the team plays better with him that it has at any point this year. You can hope for it if you want to, but...

  • Bad pass with a minute left. If the Bulls had scored instead it would have been tied. So they kept it interesting.

    But the team is missing too many key players, and Noah is limited. As some of you wrote, Noah should be resting.

    As for the Pau bashing, I don't get why this seems so fashionable. If he were Rodman on D he would cost $25 million per instead of $7 million. He is a great value for his cost. Kirk bashing I get, but not Pau.

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    In reply to rustyw:

    I agree with Rusty I don't get the Pau bashing, at times he's the only one on the team besides Niko that can score the ball.

  • In reply to pdogs:

    I'm with both of you rustyw and pdogs. Gasol is:

    10th in PER
    18th in points per game
    4th in rebounds per game
    5th in blocked shots per game
    5th in defensive rebound percentage
    9th in total rebound percentage
    7th in defensive win shares

    And most surprisingly, even though Thibs rarely uses him there to spread the floor, Pau has hit 50% (9/18) of his corner 3's this season!

    I just don't see how any Bulls fan can be less than thrilled with his play this season. Yes, his defense is certainly below-average. He struggles mightily trying to defend pick-and-roll.

    The Bulls got incredibly lucky to be able to sign him last summer. IMHO, if teams would have known that he was going to play the way he has this season, we never could have landed him with the cap space we had.

    It just sucks that last summer, GarPax didn't know (or didn't believe) that Gasol had this much left in the tank, and they didn't have faith that Niko would come over and be a serious player this season.

    If they had, the could have traded Gibson last summer for a high-quality backup PG or a much better SF than Dunleavy. Taj's trade value was at an all-time high coming off his playoff series vs WAS and being runner-up for 6th man of the year.

    They won't nearly as much this summer.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Pau gets bashed for three primary reasons: 1. The demise of Noah, which to me has always had more to do with his injuries than his being displaced to PF. That stated, C is clearly Noah's best position and I'm not sure having another starting caliber C is what this team really needed when it had the reigning DPOY 2. The demise of the defense. This Bulls defense is UNRECOGNIZABLE vs. prior years, a lot of that has to do with the pick-and-roll defense, and a lot of that has to do with Gasol specifically. Despite whatever stats you want to show, Gasol is really hurting the team defensively, almost offsetting his offensive contributions. 3. He's soft. We all love tough, gritty players like Rodman, not softies like Gasol. It doesn't really bother me personally, all players have relative strengths and weaknesses, but I hear where people are coming from.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Good job of expressing the conundrum that Gasol creates.

    I'd quibble a lit bit with the importance of Noah playing center, which seems to be showing up lately with the success of the Noah/Mirotic pairing. Maybe it takes pairing Noah with a go to offensive player at PF(which Taj really isn't) to make the argument stronger.

    and maybe the part about "almost" offsetting his offensive contributions, I'd say that they more than offset them most of the time, especially after the first quarter.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    I appreciate that you can find a bunch of stats to make him look good, the same can surely be said for Boogie Cousins whose teams can't seem to win more than 35-40% of their games.

    I certainly don't delve into stats as deeply as you do, however, there was a recent ESPN piece, by Kevin Pelton(I think) which I linked to a while back about the Bulls demise on D. He clearly stated that the Bulls were a worse(%) rebounding team(even on defense) with Gasol on the floor then they were without him. I doubt that his stats were wrong, so being 5th in defensive rebound percentage(which must not count the last 2 games where we got creamed on the offensive glass) is just another one of his deceptive stats.

    Not unlike boozer before him, he basically squats in the lane, cleans up all the easy uncontested boards, never puts a body on anyone and loses most of the contested boards. I'm guessing that in the playoffs there are far fewer easy boards and a lot more contested ones.

    How significant are 2 blocks per game vs untold numbers of uncontested layups and uncontested putbacks on missed free throws. He clearly gives up more of just about everything to more than offset every one of his positive stats.

    Not only that his marshmellow like softness clear affects the entire team, thats why as a team we have become a bunch of paper mache panseys.

    Like I said, after we get trounced in the playoffs, I suspect many will be singing a different tune on Gasol, kind of like the fans at both of his previous stops, where the longer they watched him, the less they liked him.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the polite debate and the stats.

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    OK Bulls we all are upset what good reason we just want to see our win and do, bashing the players we have sitting on the bench doesn't help, our coach professional style is what's hurting us not believing to play rookie us he force to because of injuries, playing your best 2 way player 40 plus minutes on back to back because you don't trust anyone else, how are they to get better unless you play, for instance Tony Snell, if he played more during the beginning other players would be fresh, same goes Nic, and Even Moore, l like Coach Thibodaux but not as head coach it's your job to watch out for your guy's and not run them into the ground during the season and have everyone ready during the playoffs because we all know that that only eight player are going to play anyway, so you might as well played everyone else during the season to keep the one's who going to play in the playoffs fresh, l blame both the coach and FO, them for not firing him early doing the summer and coach for not understand his role better as the head man on the side, it's up to you to make sure your guys are healthy and not tired as the season goes along not the opposite .

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