Don't worry, Doug. The Bulls closed. Boy did they ever close.

Don't worry, Doug. The Bulls closed. Boy did they ever close.

All right, some key numbers from last night:

- The Bucks scored 66 total points. Chicago had 65 by halftime.

- Doug McDermott had as many points as Giannis Antetokounmpo (5) and one less ejection.

- Zaza Pachulia lead the Bucks in scoring... With eight.

- The Bulls starters outscored the Bucks starters 81-29.

Okay, you get the gist of it. The Bulls flatlined Milwaukee's season, and looked about as crisp as they've looked all year. Not that it isn't easy to roll over someone who quit three minutes into the game. (Seriously, after the Bulls knocked down eight points in the first minute, the fight in Milwaukee's eyes were gone. Just gone.) But that's somehow the point. The Bulls came out and punched hard, never to look back. They didn't grow comfortable as they normally do. They didn't relax or take plays off. They pushed harder, and further, admittedly humiliating the Bucks throughout, although this wasn't the intent.

No, the intent was something different. The intention was finally learning once and for all how good they can be when their collective foot doesn't leave the pedal. Yes, the Bucks quit. But you could have thrown the Cavs or Warriors in there last night, and they still would have gone down. To borrow a quote from John C. Reilly's character, Gus Sinski, in For Love Of The Game: "The boys are all here for ya, we'll back you up, we'll be there, cause, Billy, we don't stink right now. We're the best team in baseball, right now, right this minute, because of you. You're the reason. We're not gonna screw that up, we're gonna be awesome for you right now. Just throw."

Last night, Chicago was the best team in basketball. The shared determination, the competitive edge, the unwillingness to fall into familiar patterns, all came together at just the right time. The challenge from here on out will be keeping that edge going into the second round against Cleveland. The Bulls, knowing Kevin Love won't show up, should forget he won't show up. They must not care. No Love, no J.R. Smith - it doesn't matter. Hell, LeBron James could go out, and the change in approach for Chicago shouldn't even remotely present itself.

If these Bulls are serious, they need to go medieval on their opponents from here on out. Go up by 10? Build it to 20. Sense another poor defensive performance from Kyrie Irving? Attack him from every angle on the floor until he cracks. The theme for the Bulls right now has to change, and change to something very particular.

Whatever it takes.

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  • I'll give some credit to Thibs for this one. He clearly had emphasized in practice that the Bulls needed to get into their offense more quickly and shoot earlier in the shot clock. I think that is something the Bulls need to do against every team, but it was particularly important against the Bucks.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    You can either credit him or say he finally fixED the problem. It was evident to me that this was part of the problem in the regular season and also post season.

    Either way, glad we had a convincing win

  • In reply to bjb57:

    Yes, it was noticeable from the start. Those shots to go up 8-0 and 12-4 were fluid, decisive, quick. Many were when the shot clock was above 10. If you're open, shoot it!

  • Great win! Hopefully the Bulls don't get screwed by the NBA if they somehow suspend Dunleavy for that first game. That would be total B.S if he gets one game and J.R. Smith "only got two games".

  • In reply to juice44:

    I am very worried about that early Dunleavy hit to MCW... the TV crew did not give it much talk and the angles were not great. So, hard to tell how intentional it was... I know it surely didn't look good.

    Milwaukee's reaction was pathetic. The Giannis play was bad. After the Love incident (which was not nearly as bad, IMO, since guys lock and pull arms all the time...), the NBA should not put up with this crap - especially in a game decided already when the next team will be impacted in future playoff rounds.

  • It's funny, because Dunleavy is like a "smart" dirty player instead of so many of these dumb dirty players. He does it in small doses, an elbow here, a push there. He got away with it on the first or second Milwaukee possession on MCW, because if it were DeMarcus Cousins or some other moron, it would have gotten more play, but Dunleavy only like half-way does it so it doesn't appear as bad, because really it isn't that obvious and not too hard....being a slim, lanky white guy makes it so hard for these big NBA players to see it prolly, so that makes it even funnier....

  • In reply to Keep:

    Do you think mike d is one of those soft spoken task talkers too? That with the big lead and him hitting threes didn't jive well with the bucks players who feel they are better than some old white guy...

    Also, did anyone see Kirk's dribbling exhibition? He also had two or three nifty passes. I about feel over.

    Defensively it seemed the only difference was that Chicago picked then up at the half court and got sent every rebound.

    Offensively they pushed the ball and took the first open shot.

    Fun to watch. It would be nice to open up Monday with a 29-16 first quarter. Put that doubt in the cavs early...

  • Great game, fun to watch the Bulls finally blow someone out. Before last night, I thought the Bulls would lose to the Cavs in 5, now I have some hope. It seems critical, though, that the Bulls win at least one of the first two games. I could see the Cavs going into game one with pure determination in their minds with Lebron and Irving going for 50 just to show that they are OK.

    It was nice to see McDermott get some playing time and hit some shots.

  • Thibs did what we all have been saying:
    1. Push the ball. Get into the offense quicker.
    2. More Gibson

    I felt like I was watching the 2014 NBA Finals. In that series, the Spurs played fast and never let up... just kept on coming at the Heat. It had that feeling of total annihilation and embarrassment.

    I hope the Cavs were watching. Down Love and JR with little depth, especially in games 1 and 2... they must be like damn, how are we playing this team in round 2?!

    Imagine if the Bulls could play with this edge all the time?

  • In reply to Granby:

    I don't believe that the Cav's view of the Bulls was altered by last nights game at all. I also don't think they have any trepidation about going up against the Bulls. They may not have the same contempt for us as the Wiz do, but they certainly don't fear us.

  • It was really fun to watch the good Bulls for a change. I really don't know what kind of Bulls will show up against the Cavs, but regardless the Bulls are underdogs against Lebron, as I see a 40% chance to dethrone James at best. If they can pull this next series off, they will go all the way through the Championship.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    Yes, hard to imagine Bulls getting through LeBron... but, they totally should this year. I would say 60% or more based on the paper matchups. Cavs should have the best two players on the floor, but Chicago has probably the next 5-7 best.

  • In reply to Granby:

    If Kyrie > Rose, Bulls have no chance.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I think that could easily be a push... We have advantages all over the court in games 1 and 2 especially, with JR out.

    The matchups are good for CHI. Butler plays LeBron tough. Kyrie is no worry for Rose... Kyrie and Rose should both put up points.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Correct, and way to keep your head while all those around you are losing theirs, which was/is totally predictable. In fact, I'd say that Rose has to shut him down on one end and dominate him at the other for the Bulls to have a chance at winning.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I wouldn't go that far. If Rose can play him to a push, Bulls might have enough to overcome LeBron, at least without Love and JR.

  • I can't imagine the Bulls not winning against Cleveland given that Love is out and JR is out 2 games.

    Below are the 9 Cavs players who are available for games 1 and 2 who have played in the playoffs this year.

    Unless the Bulls come out and dog it, which they easily could, they should not lose either game 1 or 2. LeBron and Kyrie have to score a ton and play close to 48 minutes. Their role players like Thompson, Mosgov and Dellavedova need to play out of their minds to win.

    Bottom line: Bulls need to come out with the hate and effort like they usually do against LeBron. Not the effort like they bring against the bottom dwellers of the NBA East.

    LeBron 27ppg/43mpg
    Kyrie 23/40
    Mozgov 10/24
    Thompson 7/25
    Shumpert 7/29
    Jones 3/11
    Dellavadova 3/11
    Perk 1/3
    Marion 0/1

  • In reply to Granby:

    Just keep throwing double-teams at James and Irving, and what's left? Bulls have a clear advantage on paper, and should advance to the ECF. Chicago also has deep-seeded animosity for the Cavs, (Lebron in particular), so the motivation to play hard every game should be there from the start. You have to feel good about the Bulls chances in this series.

  • In reply to BullsMan:

    You guys feel good about the Bulls chances? I certainly don't. Sure, if they play every game like last night they'll take it, but this team is too inconsistent and still has Kirk Hinrich on it.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    But, that's the point... The Bulls HATE LeBron and will be amped up. They are confident AND they should give their all. (LOL re: Kirk... poor Kirk!)

  • In reply to Granby:

    do the Bulls hate Lebron, or is it just Noah? I'm not sure that enough of our guys have the passion to hate anyone, it certainly doesn't seem like a part of Rose's personality/demeanor.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Roman, come on, get on board! :-)

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Agree 100% about Hinrich. Instead of throwing him out on the floor, I'd like to see the Bulls try both Rose and Brooks on the floor at the same time. When he's on, there isn't a deadlier three point shooter on the team than Brooks, which would cut way down on the Rose double teams.

  • Finally!! This is the team we thought we would see all year. 5 players on the floor who can score, pass, make the right play. A defense that was on the same page. Solid rebounding. Athletes in transition. It all starts with Rose. He pushed the ball and made the offense move with pace, and he picked up his defensive intensity. I actually think Cleveland is a better match up for Chicago than Atlanta, especially without Love and Smith. Rose cranks up the offensive and defensive intensity against Kyrie. He feels he has to physically intimidate him on both ends of the floor, and he does it. Can't wait for this series, and glad the real Bulls showed up last night.

  • In reply to piggy7:

    Yes, good point about the Rose-Kyrie matchup. As long as Rose does not try to do too much, it's much better than MCW. Kyrie is much smaller than MCW and his defense is probably worse than Derrick's overall D. I think Rose can shine a bit more in this series if needed.

    Mirotic should also play a big role, with no Love. Thompson will have to run around the perimeter chasing him.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Curious to see what Niko's role will be, as Thibs clearly decided to shorten his rotation last night to 8 guys, basically eliminating both Niko and Snell, essentially replacing them with Hangdog. Was this a matchup based decision or a philosophical one. We'll see Monday night.

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    With a 40 pt lead in the 4th qtr, Thibs didn't have to keep Noah and Taj in the lineup. Give them a water break! UGH!

    The Bulls must win the 1st game against the Cavs. If they win the 1st two in Cleveland the Cavs will not be able to recover in Chicago. Losing J.R. Smith is a huge loss for them, and the Bulls must take advantage while he's out . Losing K. Love is big too, but the Cavs can recover from that loss, and they are deeper than most people give them credit for. Keeping Tristan Thompson off of the offensive boards is key.

    The next series is going to be about the Bulls bench. Tony Snell, Nikola Mirotic, Aaron Brooks, and Taj Gibson must be able to outperform the Cavs and 3 pt shooting is a must. The longer this series goes the bigger advantage it is for the Cavs. Bulls in 6.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    AGREE 90%.
    Bulls need to (and should) win first two with no JR (HUGE)
    Need to keep Thompson off the off boards
    Bench needs to perform

    Not so sure CLE is deeper than folks think.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    Of the big 3, Love was always the guy that worried me least, we have the ability to match up with him. Thompson has been a beast against us, particularly on the offensive boards. I'd seriously have to question who is more important to them, Love or Mozgov. Clearly, things turned around for them after the Mozgov acquisition, although there were other moving parts at that time.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Agree with you and Mozgov might even be more valuable to the Cavs, but it's still a huge loss.

  • Bulls recipe for victory against the Bucks:
    1. Defense
    2. 3-point shooting

    Evidence:
    Bucks shot .410 in 2 point% and .303% on threes. Season average was .459 and .363. Huge difference.

    Top three players in NBA in Defensive Rating- (1) Gasol-87; (2) Noah-88.2; 3) Butler-91.7

    Butler first in NBA in Win-Shares
    Gasol and Butler tied for first in NBA in Defensive Win-Shares

    Bulls first in NBA in blocked shots

    Gasol second in defensive rebounding after 6 games with 60. Griffin has 61.

    Bulls first in NBA in 3 pointers-67 (10 more than next team). Dunleavy led team with 17.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    More interesting facts:

    Butler leading NBA in playoffs in steals-15

    Butler leading in total points-149

    Rose leading in Turnovers-26 (7 TOs worse than next player- ouch!)

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    "Gasol second in defensive rebounding after 6 games with 60. Griffin has 61."

    Thank you for clarifying that. I knew it would be closer when the games evened out. I'm still very happy with Gasol overall.

  • Biggest matchups will be DRose defending Kyrie and whoever else guards LeBron besides Butler. In the game the Bulls won before the All-Star Break, Snell guarded Lebron. Maybe feisty Dunleavy can get in Lebron's head as well. But how they defend Kyrie and Lebron will be crucial. I'd rather see Snell in helping to guard rather than Hinrich.

    On offense, you know the Cavs are going to put Lebron on DRose if DRose gets going. That is when the small forward must punish Kyrie. I assume they will put Shumpert on Jimmy. That will be the most crucial offensive matchup for the Bulls is the small forward (Dunleavy or Snell) being guarded by Kyrie.

    I think Nikko is the x-factor. I wonder if he was completely healthy. If he is, I play him at Power Forward a lot. I keep Noah as mostly a sub for Gasol and never play them together. Let Taj and Noah play half the game for each other with Taj in more when LeBron is playing power forward.

    And let's see how this plays out. First two games are crucial. Bulls should only play Brooks when Dellanova is in and not against Kyrie ever because Kyrie eats Brooks up. Kyrie knows he can get his shot off on Brooks whenever he wants. For this series, if it is an 8 man rotation to primarily use, then make it Nikko, Taj and Snell off the bench.

    I think the mentality for this series is to only use Brooks in emergency situations especially if there is at least two days of rest between games for Rose. If Rose has foul problems or needs a rest, I would even try E'twaun Moore for a few minutes or so here and there against Kyrie rather than Brooks or Hinrich if DRose needs a blow and Kyrie is still in there. Just not a good matchup for them. Dellanova against Brooks = okay. Kyrie against Brooks = not okay.

  • Unfortunately, there will only be one day off between games. The only two day break will be between games 6 & 7 if it goes that far. This is an advantage for Cleveland in that they will have had significantly more rest than the Bulls going into the series.

    Moreover, two of the Bull starters are 34; Taj and Noah are banged up; and Rose has not been nearly as good with one day's rest. On the positive side it just gives the Cavs one day between games to game-plan for Kirk Hinrich (just seeing if you're paying attention.)

    OT- who else is nauseated by the NFL's over the top production of the draft? Also, who will be the wise team to draft that talented player who robbed a woman and then threw her down four flights of stairs?

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    A 3-day rest until the next game is ideal for this team. Had they won last Monday or earlier, that would be too much time, especially for a team that has chronic slow starts and consistency issues as it is. From a health standpoint, the Bulls seem to be about as good as they are going to get; so what really is more than 3 or 4 days of additional rest going to accomplish? A week off certainly isn't going to resolve whatever's been going on with Noah this season. And as much time as Rose has missed already, he probably shouldn't have more than a handful of days off either. The Bulls have good momentum and confidence right now, so I say keep the games coming.

  • Last nights game was a blast, you could say, thank God, IAFT.

    However, the Bulls better get over it about as fast as they would a good orgasm. I'll never forget the 1985 finals, the Lakers lost game one to the Celtics 148-114, the infamous Memorial Day Massacre, they then proceeded to win 4 of the next 5 games(even including a blowout of their own) to win the NBA title.

    So last nights win, hilariously fun as it was, coming against a team that barely plays the same sport as the Larry Bird led Celtics of the 1980's certainly has no bearing on the Bulls chances/ability to beat the Cav's in the next round. That's even if you are somehow deranged enough to think that pau Gasol is now the premiere defensive player in the NBA(nevermind just the Bulls), which in and of itself proves the absolute moronic nature of scouring the earth for some pile(or sliver) of stats in a vain attempt to prove some nonsensical point, especially when using such stats without any contextual interpretation.

    One such contextual interpretation being that Doug may have been correct in calling the Bucks the worst team in the playoffs. Or that as Mort pointed out in his post, the Bucks appear to have quit as early as the first 2 minutes when the Bulls opened up 8-0. Heck, last night the Bucks put themselves in the argument for worst playoff team of all time. Not only did they suffer the 3rd or 4rth worst playoff drubbing of all time, they set a record that will never, actually can never be broken. They became the first team in NBA playoff history to not have even a single player score in double figures. I haven't seen anything to suggest that doesn't include the shot clock era which makes it an even more spectacular failure.

    I know that some people around here have a vested interested in trying to convince us that the Bucks are some kind of offensive juggernaut and not the lowest scoring team(by far, like maybe even a statistically significant margin) in the playoffs at 86.7 ppg(in regulation time). However, do we really have to get so carried away by what was more of a fluke performance(dare I say statistical anomaly) than some definitive answer/statement about what kind of team the Bulls are. Even the Hangdog himself managed to scrape out a positive plus/minus, albeit a surprisingly/appallingly bad one(given the context of the game) at only plus 2.

    Don't all the "really smart" stat people always caution against all the perils of taking any stat at face value, cautioning against biases such as small sample size, and what's the other one that proves that you are a stat genius, oh yea, knowing the difference between correlation and causation. Even Pau Gasol himself, might have an inkling that those are just some of the reasons why he hasn't suddenly morphed into the best defensive player in the league.

    Enjoy the blowout for a day, but be sophisticated enough to recognize it for what it is, and come back to reality now, rather than waiting for Monday night.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Milwaukee put up a good fight, but ultimately fell victim to their youth, inexperience and overall lack of necessary talent, and were finally consumed by the pressure of the moment (and a much more talented and experienced Bulls team). Obviously that game was an anomaly, as we could easily go the rest of our lives without ever again seeing that type of point margin in an NBA playoff game.

    I believe the Bulls have a good shot at winning the Cleveland series, either in 6 or 7; but it would be ignorant to think doing so will be easy, or that the Cavs will lay down and die like Milwaukee did. I certainly don't anticipate the Bulls putting on any clinics, and likely they get blown out in one of the games they lose in this series. Losing Love gives the Bulls a meaningful advantage, and I think this team, even with their inconsistencies, will take care of business. Should be great basketball either way.

  • In reply to BullsMan:

    If the Bulls can somehow get to 2-0 or 3-1, LeBron has never shown to be all that mentally tough, he quits when he gets too far behind.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    BigWay, you wrote, "Last night's win ... has no bearing on the Bulls chances/ability to beat the Cav's."

    I really do not see your reasoning on that. That 54-point margin was special. I feel it shows how good the Bulls can be when they focus and do not jerk around! And that has a great bearing on the Bulls' chances.

    The biggest question - will the Bulls maintain that focus, at least most of the time? If so, we will all love this series against the Cavs!

  • In reply to rustyw:

    My reasoning is that the game was such a freak occurrence, that it becomes essentially meaningless going forward against a much different and better Cav's team.

    You may recall that the Bulls beat the Jazz in the 98 finals 96-54, a total freak occurrence as the other 5 games combined were decided by only 15 points total with no individual game over 5.

    The previous year the total margin of victory for all 6 games was 32, with only one double digit victory(11) by the Jazz. So the Bulls won one game by 42 points, the other 11 finals games were decided by a total of 47 points.

    Clearly that one game had absolutely no bearing on how the other 11 games played out, and that Jazz team was basically equivalent to if not better than this Cav's team, not the Bucks team that we just spanked by 54.

    Finally, the next time that this schitzo Bulls team maintains anything positive from one game to the next will be the first. Really, have we even played 2 good games in a row never mind 2 great ones.

    Sorry to be a glass half empty guy, but that's just the way I am, and we all know that you are a glass overflowing the rim guy, more power to you.

  • Mike Dunleavy looked like an NBA Jam player on defense, he was a bully out there. To some it looked dirty and that's understandable, but for the most part i liked what i saw. It reminded me of the 90's when the NBA was a lot more physical. You had guys like Karl Malone, Alonzo Mourning, Shaq, Patrick Ewing, even Jordan, etc. all played a lot more physical on a nightly basis. I was watching a video about Horace Grants thoughts on the NBA today and IMO he made a lot of sense with what he was saying. The NBA is a lot softer now and they do it to defend the players but it inadvertently hurts the competitiveness. Here's the link if you wanna check it out. It's about 30 minutes long and I thought it was a good interview.

  • In reply to ajaychitown:

    http://www.sportingnews.com/nba/story/2015-02-03/michael-jordan-horace-grant-will-perdue-chicago-bulls-nba-phil-jackson

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    The next series should be very interesting. Love and Smith's absence will be felt. However, Cavs can adjust. With Lebron playing the 4 now and Mosgov at the 5 they have a potent front court. The key to this series will be bench play. We have to get Mosgov in foul trouble--which shouldn't be too hard b/c he foul a lot. Rose historically has defended Kyrie very well. Lebron is going to get his points, just have to make him work for everything. We have to be near perfect to beat a Lebron James led team. Every night we have to have a combination of at least 3 guys lighting it up. It would be great if it could be different guys every night.

  • The Bulls have a better chance this time around than any other times they played against James. However, let's not be too optimistic. James and Irving are the 2 best players on the next series. The Bulls have to play out of their minds to beat them as I still think this is a series for the Cavs to lose.

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