Born and raised near the city of Chicago in the 90s, it was inevitable that I would become a Bulls fan.
Allow me to start out by saying that I love the Bulls and Chicago. There is no city filled with more pride in its sports teams than Chicago (in my opinion, of course).
But despite my love and loyalty for the Chicago Bulls, my journalism degree enabled me to be objective in my thoughts and analysis.
So, what I’m about to say won’t be pretty. It may hurt Bulls fans to hear the truth but too bad.
Terrible offense, terrible execution down the stretch, and their inability to close out games has left the Bulls down 0-2 to the Wizards. Not to mention both of those games were played in Chicago.
Now, if anyone truly thinks the Bulls are advancing to the second round of the playoffs, I would say they must be crazy. It is just not happening and once again Chicagoans can hear the phrase, “well maybe next year.”
As a devoted hoop head, I spent most of my year watching Bulls games. With the number of obstacles that team faced they could’ve taken the 76ers ways out and tanked in hopes of a lottery pick. Yeah right, over Tom Thibodeau’s dead body they’ll tank.
Instead, they fought on and were relentless all season. Chicago played 82 playoff games this season but when it came time for the real playoffs, they played like a D-League team.
Without Derrick Rose, the Bulls have no chance of winning an NBA Championship.
Of course, they have the heart and soul of Joakim Noah who plays every game like it’s his last but they need more than that.
Noah had no answers for Washington’s Nene Hilario in Game 1 as he led the Wizards with 24 points on 11-of-17 shooting and 8 rebounds. Noah struggled putting up 10 points and 10 rebounds.
In terms of offense, everyone and their mother know the Bulls lack in that department. They have some decent games and then they have some awful games. Game 1 was an awful game as they blew a 13-point lead and only shot 42 percent from the field and 25 percent from the 3-point line. That can’t happen if they’re trying to win a playoff game.
Everything the Bulls do on offense has run through Joakim Noah. He calls out coverages, screams plays of opponents and really gets his teamed fired up with his obnoxious demeanor that we all love so much. He gives 100 percent, 100 percent of the time and I appreciate that about him.
In Game 2, Noah’s presence was known as he put up 20 points and 12 rebounds but I look at the 5 turnovers he had, 2 of which came at crucial times. His and the Bulls’ offensive game is too predictable. Noah will set a screen to get the ball into the paint and he’ll pass it back out to one of his teammates along the perimeter. The Wizards caught onto the Bulls’ game plan toward the end of the 4th quarter, intercepting passes left and right and I must say that Tom Thibodeau was outcoached by Randy Wittman.
Noah’s defense has been spectacular, however, besides getting eaten alive by Nene Hilario in Game 1. His defense earned him Defensive Player of the Year.
After the loss of Luol Deng to Cleveland, Noah really picked up the defensive intensity. His ability to move like a small forward allows him to switch up coverages and matchups within seconds. If his teammates fail to get around a screen, he will take on the challenge of keeping someone in front of him, even a smaller, faster guard. He takes away offense’s options and when opponents believe they’ve created a mismatch, Noah reminds them that it’s not really a mismatch at all. He beats guys to their spots and challenges everything.
But unfortunately, Noah can’t win games on his own and needs more help from the players around him and that’s where the real challenge has been.
Carlos Boozer can’t guard if his life depended on it. I will give his ugly looking jumper some credit but besides that, he leaves me drowning my head into my hands. In Game 1 he scored 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting and in Game 2 went 2-of-6 from the floor scoring only 5 points. That’s just not going to cut it in the playoffs.
In the first tens minutes of Game 2 the Bulls only scored 12 points. D.J. Augustin scored 8 points in the next 90 seconds. Bulls found themselves in a double-digit deficit but started climbing back and eventually taking the lead. It looked as if the Wizards let this game slip away and the Bulls were going to run away with it.
Augustin led Chicago with 25 points on 10-of-22 shooting but cooled off late in the game, unable to handle the defense. Taj Gibson’s hustle and muscle allowed the Bulls to hang in there as he had 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Five minutes into the fourth the Bulls had a nice 10-point lead but then were held to just 8 points on 4-of-11 shooting in the paint the rest of the game while the Wizards went on a 14-4 run. Chicago would then go on a shooting drought for 7 minutes.
The game went to overtime in large part to Bradley Beal coming on strong late. There the Bulls’ offense was just flat. Their ball movement was nonexistent and they forced some awful shots. The Wizards, however, looked great in the closing minutes. Nene Hilario scored six of his 17 points in overtime.
Bradley Beal finished with 26 points while John Wall added 16 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists.
We’ve seen the Bulls collapse on many occasions down the stretch and their inability to close out close games has been a problem.
Kirk Hinrich went to the line to shoot free throws for a chance to tie the game with 2.4 seconds left but his first attempt hit the rim and he missed the second on purpose. Trevor Ariza grabbed the rebound and Washington won.
Hinrich should be held accountable for missing that free throw but the game should’ve never went into overtime and should’ve never have had to be decided on free throws. He can’t be blamed for the loss in this when especially when the Bulls went 0-12 from the field late in the 4th and early in overtime.
This Wizards team has taken a toll on them and the fact that the Bulls were unable to win at least 1 game in Chicago concerns me about their chances moving forward.
I’m afraid the Bulls’ chance to advance to the next round of the playoffs has come and gone and the Wizards will close this series out in 5 games.