Bulls crushed by Cavs, but things aren't so gloomy

The Bulls weren't even close in this game. The final score didn't do it justice. However, things weren't maybe so bad except for a few key plays and outcomes for Chicago.

LeBron wasn't so great as everyone says

Yeah he had 33 points on 29 shots. That's a lot of points, but the Bulls made him work really hard to get them. The Bulls can easily overcome a 33 points on 29 shots performance.

LeBron was more aggressive, but he still looks like a guy the Bulls can generally contain. LeBron was in full ISO made plenty tonight and was worn out by the end of the game.

If this is the best LeBron has, then the Bulls are actually in pretty good shape. I think LeBron has more upside left though.

You can't let Tristan Thompson kill you

Thompson had six offensive rebounds but also forced several possessions for the Cavs with his presence.

Pau Gasol looked absolutely helpless boxing him out, and the Bulls will need to look at the film and decide how they want to deal with Thompson next game.

The Bulls bigs as a whole look lethargic and incapable of boxing out correctly. The problem exacerbates itself when Gasol plays huge minutes in single stretches. The Bulls need to find ways to keep him fresh by limiting minutes or timing his breaks better.

In the end, Gasol needs to bring a lot of offense to be worth playing if he's going to put up this little effort on defense/rebounding.

Sometimes a team is hot from beyond the arc

If the Cavs missed an additional three 3 pointers they'd have been around 35% and on par towards a more normal night. That would have put the game within six.

Kyrie Irving getting fouled twice beyond three point line didn't help either and accounted for half his free throws.

Limit those stupid fouls and Cleveland's three point shooting regresses a bit, and the Bulls are right there in the game.

That said...

This is the Bulls.

They didn't defend the three point line.

Pau Gasol, hero of game one, destroyed them in game two with his laziness while not contributing on offense.

Derrick Rose, over applauded for a pedestrian game one, struggled mightily in game two as well.

The Bulls couldn't do much consistently or well and will need to really analyze the game film to figure out how to fix their flaws.

Need more Niko

Niko's quality performance came in garbage time against the Cavs bench, so it should be taken with a grain of salt. However, given the Bulls struggles on the glass and defense with their big men, I'd like to see Niko get some more big man minutes.

Niko's an X-factor for Chicago, and the fact that you're getting killed with energy means it might not be a bad plan to get Niko in there some.

We'll see how it shakes out, but it's hard for me to see the Bulls winning this series (or beyond) without Niko playing a big factor. He's been a huge lift for Chicago lots of times this season, and the Bulls have been missing that pop off the bench at times.

Now Niko's struggled frequently too, so playing him more isn't a panacea or anything. However, Chicago needs some energy from it's front court, and Niko should get a shot to give it to them.

Derrick Rose needs to not suck

He was hot from mid-range in game one for a brief period, but he sucked it up in the fourth quarter and still ended up taking more shots than points in his "good" game.

Tonight, he was really poor.

On top of that, Derrick hasn't gotten to the free throw line at all. He's rarely attempting to get into the paint and isn't playing aggressively enough.

The Bulls need Rose to do more off the dribble in order to really push Cleveland. Especially when Irving is matched up on him.

They don't need MVP Derrick, but they need something much better than what they're getting.

The same really goes for Aaron Brooks who was a great offensive X-factor for Chicago in the season but struggled in round one and hasn't done any better in round two.

The lack of efficient production at the point guard position is a real problem for a Bulls offense which is built around the position.

Were the Bulls content?

The Bulls are now 0-9 in a series after beating LeBron in game one. If they were simply content to get game one then they're ignoring their own history. I don't find that likely.

The Cavs simply came out on fire, and the Bulls were put in too much of a deficit to ever recover. Some games are one in quarter one. This was one of those games.

Chicago fought back pretty hard, but they simply couldn't overcome that hot shooting Cleveland started with.

Game three thoughts

J.R. Smith will be back for the Cavs and everyone seems to think that J.R. Smith will add a whole bunch to the Cavs. That could happen. However, J.R. Smith can shoot you out of a game as much as he can shoot you into one.

The Cavs will have more depth for certain, but Iman Shumpert's great play so far has been more than what I expect Smith to regularly provide for the Cavs anyway. In this sense, I don't think his return will make a huge impact.

I think Derrick Rose is due for a legitimate good game. While getting plenty of accolades for his game one performance, it was the type of performance that would have been quite quiet if it were a loss.

I'm hoping that the Bulls can show a real home court advantage. The Bulls crowd was fairly lack luster against the Bucks. Hopefully the seriousness of this series gets the crowd pumped.

I think after a game of poor rebounding and close outs, that the Bulls make the correct adjustments to box out and close out more effectively. I think the Cavs get less from their role players in terms of efficient play.

The real question is how much more Kyrie and LeBron have to offer. Both of those guys can and might play better.

All in all, I like the Bulls odds in game three. I give them 60/40 to win the game.

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  • A few thoughts:

    I think rose-Jimmy-mdj-nico-taj should start. Pau/Noah can rotate in. Rose and Jimmy would have much more room to work with nico and mdj spacing the floor.

    Rose needs more rest during the game--and Kirk shouldnt be his primary backup. It's well documented how much worse he performs without rest, and we are every other game the rest of the series.

    I disagree, I think Lebron looked great. Unstoppable even. But he does look tired, so I think they should be hammering him when he drives. Make him pay.

    Tristan Thompson is the difference maker in this series. I don't know how many points have come off his boards, but it's a lot. Seems like all his boards are just crushers. Gotta figure out an answer.

    I don't think the UC is a big home court advantage for big games. Too expensive for rowdy people to get in. Hope the crowd can make a difference. I think it looks great when the home crowd is all one color, but the stuffy court side people won't wear shirts.

    Thibs has to be a better coach. We've heard for years that he's top 5, he needs to prove it in the playoffs, otherwise he's just a taskmaster who works his team harder in the regular season. The Bulls have more talent than Cleveland, need to be better coached too.

  • In reply to chwtom:

    Actually there's 2 days of rest scheduled between game 6 and 7 if there is one. Unless it's changed since 2 days ago.

  • I had a similar feeling.. like this game was painful to watch but didn't really make me feel worse about the Bulls' chances. I've come to Pau's defense(ha) quite a bit this season. But tonight he was just god awful. I swear the guy has like bi polar disorder, he seems to get way too affected when he screws up early or has a tough time with the guy defending him. Like as if he's thrown into manic depression on the court, I dunno maybe it's just his ridiculously expressive facial features. But hey, if you swap Boozer or Taj in for him in the series we are down 2-0 without a doubt, so it doesn't really matter. I'll dog him for a joke performance, but some of the Gasol hate gets pretty damn old when the fact is he's a sub 10million a year PF who plays well above his contract. Rose did go at the rim a few times early and just got rejected because they had the interior well defended, then later in the game when the opportunity WAS there he didn't. Yet still, after two games I feel almost certain that the Bulls beat the Cavs if both teams are at their best. This is going to be a long and painful series with either a huge payoff at the end, or the painful conclusion to the Thibs era. The fact that these grown ass men can't work their shit out really bothers me, it's disgusting and I really wish Jerry Reinsdorf would step the hell up and demand that these petty little boys act their age.

    One thing though Doug, you wrote "that said..this is the Bulls.. they didn't defend the three point line.". You weren't saying that because these are the Bulls they didn't defend the 3 line right? They are one of if not the best at defending the 3 aren't they? Just was confused by that part. Anyways... on to game 3, down for now, but I have a feeling not for long.

  • In reply to Chicagosportsguru:

    I think Doug's point must be how inconsistent they are and come out an lay eggs.....cuz overall they are one of the better teams at guarding the 3 pt line.

  • In reply to Chicagosportsguru:

    Despite the fact that the Bulls childishly announce Gasol as a PF, I think that on this one thing we should all be able to agree that he plays center for the Bulls not PF.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Yea he definitely plays "center".. I guess I just use the PF moniker for Gasol out of habit from his LA days playing alongside Andrew Bynum. But really it's meaningless for my point, and position names are relatively meaningless period, they don't hold any tangible meaning or league wide standard definition in today's NBA. So Gasol is a center who plays well above his pay grade.. now you can rest easy BigWay.

  • Bulls were never in the game and it really wasn't because of officiating, and they didn't need the depth that JR Smith provides. I think Coach LeBron has figured them out, and Coach Thibs has never made a counter-adjustment to Coach LeBron. Hopefully they'll have a Game 3 where everyone goes off together and they get a lopsided win of their own.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Well, at least now we get to test your theory that the Bulls can still win the series without winning last night, even if win number one was more David Blatt's and general Cav's stupidity than other worldly play by the Bulls. Really, how hard was it to figure out that Thompson should start over Mike Miller, or anybody else for that matter.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Less hard than figuring out that Niko needs to play more minutes for a certain somebody.....

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    Bulls didn't match the Cavs aggressiveness. Everyone knew Lebron was going to come out hot tonight! Gasol is not a great rim protector. He frequently avoids contact in the paint. Mirotic should have started! Thibs waited too late to insert Mirotic and Snell to give the Cavs a different look. Playing Pau and Noah together is not going to work for this series. We reacted the entire night and didn't make the Cavs react to us. Thibs must go! Too inflexible. This is the playoffs...where's the gamesmanship?

  • In reply to Marketus Presswood:

    While we'd all like to see more Niko, but how the heck is he going to stop Thompson from getting every single offensive rebound, you know like he(Thompson) did when the SOL was matched up with him. Noah isn't doing much for us, but he is the only guy with the will to compete with Thompson (even if his body is betraying him) and that is half the battle when it comes to rebounding.

    Niko should start the second and fourth quarters instead of Taj alongside Noah so that we have some offensive threat with that lineup. That means a lot less minutes for Taj, unless you start him instead of Noah, and like I said yesterday, I'm not sure that Taj has the physical stature to battle Thompson on the boards.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I think you're underestimating Niko as a rebounder. I think he can get in there and bang for rebounds, against Thompson or anyone else. Noah is doing absolutely nothing to earn playing time, against Thompson or anyone else.

  • C'mon doog, No words about Noah ??

    That guy has been killing us since the begining of the playoffs. He hasn't even played at an nba player level so far.
    He is providing nothing at all

    This need to limit his minutes. He should not be playing more than 20 min.

    We are fine, it's not a big matter, we lost because of a bad start. Indeed we beat them all quarters but the first one. I'm sure we gonna be ok to win at least one game at home.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Obviously, Noah is hurting us badly on the offensive end, which is why Thibs has to pair him with better offensive players(i.e. Niko instead of Taj). However, so much of what he does, even if he isn't doing even that as well as he used to is simply not seen, certainly not by the average box score(offense only) watching fan.

    As a perfect example, I submit a play at around the 7 minute mark of the 4rth(if I recall correctly). Noah was guarding Thompson around the free throw line. Butler and Rose switched(foolishly) on a Kyrie/Lebron play off to the right half of the court. As Lebron tried to take Rose to the rim along the baseline, Noah dropped down to force Lebron under the backboard, unable to get off a shot he crossed to the other side of the lane and passed to Shumpert, who was completely unguarded by any Bull(Brooks was somehow buried under a pile of bodies in the lane), so Noah had to run out and contest the shot at the 3 point line from Shumpert. So in a period of about 5-6 seconds he guarded 3 different guys. If the SOL is "defending" that play Lebron simply overpowers Rose for an easy Bucket at the Rim as the SOL stands there watching(or back-pedalling), like he did on every other Lebron drive to the rim all night long.

    Noah has had a myriad of issues this season, particularly at the offensive end, but he still does a lot for this team that no one ever notices, except maybe Thibs and his teammates. Because of his offensive limitations, you simply have to give him more support on the offensive end, like Niko or like McDNP if he had turned out to be half the player(shooter) that everyone thought that he was.

  • Tonight the Bulls showed their loser mentality once again. Seemingly content with winning Game 1 they obviously felt that providing effort tonight wasn't worth the bother.

    Tristan Thompson, really? James Jones, really? Iman Shumpert, really? Teams with a championship pedigree don't get killed by scrubs like this.

    Pau Gasol showed be horse whipped for his sorry effort. And what f'ing game is Noah playing because it sure the hell isn't basketball. This wasn't about what the Cavaliers did but what the Bulls didn't do. Cowardly effort.

  • The Cleveland team and James were exhausted after the 1st half. The Bulls got almost no calls in the whole game with Butler being the excption. Everytime Rose an andany Bull drove to basket they simply were fouled with no calls.
    Knowing James and the Cavs were tired Thibs did not use substitutes to his advantage. Mirotic and Snell looked lost.l

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    Bulls would of had to shoot 60% to win tonight. No way was the LeBron or the NBA let the Bulls go up 2-0 w out playing a perfect game.

    God I hope Thibbs makes some adjustments. Noah and Gasol should not be on the court together. It just doesn't work w these match ups. Gasol should be paired w Taj and Niko w Noah.

    Hopefully the media will focus on Rose not getting to the line, so he gets some superstar calls in Chicago. Time for Jo to step his game up or step aside, as it would be a real shame if he's the reason we don't advance. Has as DPOY ever fallen off the cliff so bad the following year ? This is borderline sad.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    One of the post game shows pointed out that for the first time in his career Rose went 3 straight games without even a single free throw attempt. While he is clearly not getting calls, I also think this is evidence that he simply does not have the explosion that he used to, especially vertically once he gets in the lane and at the rim.

    Everybody, except you know who has been on board with splitting up Noah and Gasol for most of the season, but we all know it just isn't happening now. Maybe it happens next season, with or without Thibs.

  • I like the first comment about more Taj and Nikko and less Noah and Gasol. Gasol is just ridiculous with rebounding. Thompson killed him on the boards and even made a offensive play in his face. Noah is absolutely horrendous on offense. So many times where he is absolutely wide open and not even looking at the basket. And then his free throw shooting is terrible. Taj was very good inside tonight and he plays defense. Nikko seems like a liability as well on defense but he can't be any worse than Gasol. And his shooting and athleticism at the stretch four gives better spacing that Noah can give on his best day.

    I can't tell yet about Nikko and Snell overall. Although Snell did get a few minutes playing Lebron. Gasol's turnovers and more importantly his inability to keep Thompson off the boards was the worst for me tonight. And he does start to whine and pout too much instead of getting under the basket and getting some power boards instead of being weak. Likewise, Noah is a turnover waiting to happen and Lebron has almost got him a couple of times.

    Still I'm optimistic about the next game. And it is absolutely crucial that the Bulls come out with the energy the Cavs had tonight. I don't know what to do about the 3 pointers from Shumpert and Dellanova. Should we just live with that? Let's get them in game 3. Yes, Thibs time to make some adjustments and show you are a top coach.

  • Doug, you wrote, "Derrick hasn't gotten to the free throw line at all. He's rarely attempting to get into the paint and isn't playing aggressively enough."

    There are good reasons for that:
    1) When he drives in, he winds up getting blocked a lot;
    2) or he loses the ball in a crowd; and
    3) he is not getting calls from the refs!
    Given all this, he should drive less and shoot the short jumpers or dish off more. Some of which he is doing.

    Mirotic needs to play more for the Bulls to have a chance. Their O is far better when he plays PF. Many fans pointed this out in the Bucks series.

    If Thibs does not get this, then he is not a decent playoff coach. Too bad, but it is what it is. Maybe he wants to get canned and is ticked at the FO, so he is coaching to lose. How else to explain his stubbornness? No way do I get his thinking.

    Look what guys are doing off the bench for Cleveland. Without Shumpert the Cavs are 0-2. Snell needs to get in earlier and play more, ditto Mirotic, and Kirk needs to play less. Noah needs to play less. Period.

    Brooks will likely have a couple of good games. Let us hope that, when he is on, he does not get pulled!

  • Unless the NBA brand of basketball has changed so much that it is no longer the game we grew up watching there is a truism worth repeating; the team that is aggressive offensively will prevail over a jump-shooting team most of the time. The Cavs were more aggressive in both games, by far. The Bulls won game 1 because they were making their jump shots, but that is not often repeatable. Somehow, the Bulls need to up their level of commitment of getting to the basket if they are to win this series. Hopefully, getting on their home court will get them to do so.

    As for the rotation, I wrote here early in the season that the Bulls would only be championship contenders if either, or both, of Mirotic or McDermott was a significant contributor in the playoffs. I still believe that to be the case. However, it seems like Mirotic is destined for only spot minutes and garbage time.

  • Not sure why Noah get so many minutes. He's been brutal lately. Zero offense. He needs to hit shots at the rim, but he somehow seems to find ways to continually miss. More Mitotic.

    Less Hinrich. He cannot guard Kyrie at all.

    Bulls just didn't bring the energy. They could not get open 3s while CLE was open all night. I think that comes down to effort.

  • switching thompson to gasol shut down the pick and pop. mozgov was able to sag off of noah and clog the lane. the Bulls offense disappeared. Defensively, Gasol is too slow and lazy to keep thompson off the boards or to rotate and keep lebron away from the rim. Mirotic would have been the adjustment. he would force mozgov back on gasol and he is a really good rebounder in traffic. thibs does not trust him to rebound against thompson but he can't be any worse than gasol. chicago needs to attack cleveland with energy, pace and spacing. cleveland relies on 2 guys and can be worn down. thibs needs to lose his stubborn streak and make some adjustments

  • The Bulls need to start Mirotic at power forward and they need to play Snell more than Hinrich. Snell actually affected Lebrons offense due to his length and athletism, while Hinrich shouldn't even be out there. Mirotic would help space the floor and open up the lanes. I'm really pissed at Thibs for benching Mirotic not just this series but also the last. The guy has talent and he plays best when he's confident in his game. But when you play a guy 4 and 7 minutes you're taking that confidence away from him and not giving him a chance to get into any kind of rhythm. You can throw Snell in this category as well. So what if they make rookie mistakes, even the veterans that's been on the team for years chronically turn the ball over and make bad decisions.

    I just don't understand why it's so hard for Thibs to make in-game adjustments. As a coach in the NBA something so simple should be second nature, but he runs the same group to the ground long after the wheels have fallen off. He knows that Rose has been having issues with fatigue, so there's no reason why he should have played more minutes than anyone on both the Bulls and Cavs roster in a game that was clearly a blowout early on.

    Also Gasol played horrible but I'm not gonna rag on him too much because Noah isn't doing any better. I'm curious to see if Thibs has the savvy to make the proper adjustments the next game or if he'll just stick with the same formula.

  • In reply to ajaychitown:

    +1

    This.

    Jason Goff of The Score would accuse of being brainwashed by the GarPax media machine because Thibs has won a lot of regular season games.

    But you are 100% correct.

  • In reply to ajaychitown:

    I think everyone was disappointed with our front line last night. It seems that there is a consensus on this board to give Niko more minutes. In this I agree.

    I don't know about Niko starting, however. This goes back to our season long discussion regarding the best frontcourt pairings. Also we need to keep in mind that, quite frankly, Niko is not a good shooter. Niko shot .405 during the season including .316 from long distance. This is not good to put it mildly. Moreover, he is shooting .324 in the playoffs and .235 from three-point land.

    Thibs always wants to give the Bulls the best chance of winning. Of course, fans will disagree as to the best strategy to take. If Niko struggles shooting, why play him over Taj and Noah who are vets and considered the better defenders? This is the problem that I think Thibs is struggling with. But if Niko can pull Thompson out of the interior that would open up the floor and get him off the offensive boards. This is an adjustment that Thibs needs to make.

  • Will Thibs ever utilize his deep bench? With Labron exhausted, Shumpert hurt we could used a running game. Why let the Clevland bench beat us with 3's?

  • This team is too woefully inconsistent to beat a LeBron team or any other really good team. They either need the front court to dominate Cleveland's or for Rose to out-play Irving, possibly both. I don't think either happens. If Gasol is truly the all-star some claim he is, he will dominate a journeyman like Mozgov but I think we see the truth about Gasol, he's just a guy, not a difference-maker. (a re-post from last week, not 20/20 hindsight).

    Noah and Hinrich are killing the Bulls. If Thibs is going to insist on playing them so many minutes, the Bulls probably don't win another game.

    Btw a rant against local media: According to The Score's Jason Goff and to S-T sensationalist Joe Cowley, if you want Thibs fired, it's only because you've bought the story that GarPax is selling that Thibs is a problem who plays guys too many minutes. There's simply no way you could have come to this conclusion on your own about such a great coach. The Bulls FO supposedly owns the Chicago media, even though The Score is the Chicago media, so are their frequent guests KC Johnson and Joe Cowley, all of whom are pro-Thibs. IMO the Trib, the Score and the S-T are the three most significant entities of Chicago media so I've lost track of what media the Bulls FO owns (does Comcast Chicago knock Thibs?). I think of KC as little more than a team PR guy but again, he's never said or written anything negative of Thibs to my knowledge.

    The POV is that there is simply no way an intelligent. independent-thinking fan would want to fire a coach with such a great regular season record. If you have that opinion it's because GarPax want you to have it.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Noah and Hangdog should never be on the court together, thats for sure. But due to the nature of Thib's rotations, they usually are.

    Actually, I think it is a very interesting theoretical question. If you were to eliminate one of the Bulls four bigs, thus allowing the other 3 to split the 96 big man minutes evenly, which one would it be. Today, it seems like most people would say Noah, other days it seems like Taj, other days the SOL, with Niko being the only keeper.

    It would be a very tough call for me, especially if you factor in injuries(history). Since none of them are true 2 way players if not outright one dimensional, it makes the decision even harder. At the end of the day, because of that, maybe we need all four but with different pairings, as well as better minutes and matchup management.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    It hasn't been a tough call for me for the past 4-6 weeks. Noah is really struggling out there.

  • i felt last night like the bulls came into the game with the "we need to weather the storm" mentality--stay calm, absorb the energetic hot start the Cavs would come into the game with, and work your way into it. Unfortunately, they were so passive out of the gate, and also missed 4-5 wide open jumpers in the first quarter and made 4-5 careless turnovers while the Cavs nailed everything and took a 20 pt lead that was too deep to climb back from. Rose and Jimmy need to attack the first quarter of game 3 like Lebron attacked game 2. Maybe get them a couple of headbands

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    Thanks for the sane and calm analysis. So much freaking out. I agree that any team (w or w/o Lebron) who shoots the 3 they way the Cavs did last night will be very tough to beat. James Jones? Shumpert? Even the announcers at one point said they wondered what Knicks fans were thinking because he certainly didn't do that in NYC. It's up to Thibs to make a few changes (Niko, when the Cavs go small), and I expect better from Brooks, Snell (if Thibs plays him), and especially Pau. I felt bad for Jimmy on the Lebron dunk; Pau was an excellent Spanish matador on that play.

  • Funny that you should say that(matador), the guys on the late night(LA) sports center actually made the same joke. They showed the replay twice, the second time emphasizing how Gasol backed away from the charging bull(well actually a Cav, i.e. Lebron), saying that since he was Spanish he must have been saying OLE, OLE, OLE as he was backing away. Pretty unusual for a anchor on a major network to say something like that. Was it funny or were they actually denigrating our best player, things that make you go hmmm.

  • Everyone on NBA TV is saying the cavs are driving the ball and Chicago is settling for jumpers.

    What's the points in the paint for the series? Don't think Chicago is that far off if at all...

    Bulls really need to push the ball. Get shots early in the clock. I think the defense should start at half court like in game 6 vs the bucks. Make the point guard turn twice before he can make the first pass into thier set.

    I still would not double lebron or help till he gets to the rim.

    Going the bulls come out angry in game 3. I feel this should be a back against the wall game for Chicago.

  • Obviously, I'm less sanguine about the meaning of last night than Doug is. It seems to me that as I suggested after game one, both Lebron and Kyrie can take either Butler or Rose to the rim at will either one on one or in pick and roll. As long as this is the case and the Cav's are smart enough to consistently press this advantage rather than settling for jumpers I don't see how the Bulls find a way to win this series. I could see another 4-1 rout, or 4-2 if we find a way to have a hot shooting night again.

    If the Bulls are going to collapse their entire defense into the lane to stop Lebron thus leaving 3 guys wide open at the 3 point line, then they have to stop Lebron from scoring in the paint. If they are going to allow him to score in the paint, then they have to guard the 3 point line. Last night they did neither.

    While Doug may be right that Smith alone may not be an upgrade from what Shumpert has given them so far, now they will have both guys available which should be a nice upgrade from the other scrubs that have taken those minutes, although they can't complain about 5-9 from 3 from James Jones.

    Hey, Taj was 5-5 from the field last night, maybe the answer is getting Taj more shots, maybe if he had 15-20 attempts we would have won(tongue planted firmly in cheek, since I know a dry sense of humor doesn't always translate well in writing).

  • In reply to BigWay:

    By the way, for years Bulls fans overestimated Deng's ability to defend Lebron, I think the same can be said about Butler's ability to do so also.

  • Maybe we can trade Noah for Thompson before Friday. Nah, they wouldn't go for that, but what about the gaSOL, an all star, top 10-12 player in the league, 4rth best rebounder, and best defensive player in the playoffs, they should jump for that in a heartbeat, right?

  • Playoff basketball coaching is about adjustments and matchups and putting your role players in positions to succeed. The stars are going to do their thing but it is about setting up the role players in advantageous matchups and giving them an opportunity to come through.

    I think it is finally time for Thibs to show and prove that he can be a great playoff coach and not just a great regular season coach. The first move that desperately needs to be done is - Noah needs to come off the bench. I think it is the obvious one but it is time to put egos aside and do what is best for the team. Noah's benching means that you can either go with Gibson at PF which should negate some of Thompson's rebounding work. You can also go with Niko who can provide some floor spacing and pull Tristan Thompson away from the paint. If Gibson is starting, then Dunleavy would start as the needed offensive weapon and floor spacer. However, an intriguing idea might be starting Mirotic and also starting E'twaan Moore or Tony Snell while having Dunleavy coming off the bench.

    Again, if you go with Rose-Butler-Dunleavy-Gibson-Gasol - you have 4 legit offensive options, 3 floor spacing options, and the only defensive mismatch would be Dunleavy on J.R. Smith. Gibson would also cover Thompson and in essence cancel each other out.

    But if you go "out of the box," you could go Rose-Moore or Snell-Butler-Mirotic-Gasol. In this scenario, you keep 4 legit offensive options, 3 floor spacing options, and I think defensively, you might be even better off. I would put Moore or Snell on Irving. Moore would be able to guard Kyrie more closely but Snell might be more disruptive with his length. Rose on J.R. Smith which might keep a more athletic Rose fresher and able to play passing lanes for easy steals when Irving or James look to outlet pass. Mirotic would be able to negate Thompsons influence by staying out near the 3 point line. The only problem with this lineup is that if Gasol is playing pick and pop at the top of the key, you essentially have no real offensive rebounding help like you would if you have Gibson.

    I'm not saying you have to do one thing or another but I would love to see Thibs show some ingenuity and dictate some of the action by forcing the Cavs to make adjustments. It seems like we are going to get same old, robotic, play defense and rebound Tom but oh how I crave something bold and smart. You have guys like Snell, Moore, Gibson, and Mirotic. These are guys with unique skill sets who if they put in a position to succeed using their strengths might be able to make a real impact in the game.

  • I think game 3 will be the most important game of Thibs career and could be the final decision maker on if he stays or goes. This is a game where clearly adjustments have to be made and since it's against the Cavs and everyone is watching, Thibs coaching expertise is on full display. Unlike in the regular season in the playoffs there is a lot more strategy that goes into games when your locked into a series with the same team for multiple games. Success involves a blend of experimenting with different lineups, exploiting mismatches, and making plays that work against the opposing teams strengths. This is the mindset that Thibs should have going into game 3 and when any team has Lebron James there is little room for error. I think the Bulls can win with the peices they have right now but it's all up to the coach to utilize the weapons he has at his disposal and set up schemes and plays that work to the Bulls benefit. With Kevin Love out it shouldn't be so hard to come up with something.

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