Monday, 25 April 2011

Bulls Still Can't Fix What's Broken

Posted by chardyboy on Monday, April 25, 2011 0 comments


The Chicago Bulls have played four playoff games in the first full week of the NBA postseason, and they have yet to enter halftime with a lead.

Despite the fact that Chicago will head into Game 5 at the United Center on Tuesday with a 3-1 series lead over the Indiana Pacers, they have yet to play what anyone would consider a truly "good" game.  Derrick Rose is shooting 35% from the field (17% from 3PT), and the rest of his team isn't doing a lot better (40% FG for the series).  The defense has been inconsistent, the team's hustle has been generally uninspiring, and let us not forget that this is the 1 seed playing the 8 seed.

So why has this series been so hard for the Bulls?

"They're playing good defense.  You have to give them credit," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said after the Game 4 loss in Indianapolis.  "They went after it. The more you go, the more you get.  They fought harder.  They got to loose balls.  You can't just jump against these guys—you have to hit, you have to block out, and you have to fight.  They're physical, and they try to ram you under the basket, so we've got to play a lot tougher."

In a lot of ways, that sums up the entire series, but the expectations for the Bulls as a top seed are astronomical.  However, the physical defense of the Pacers has kept Chicago under wraps.  Rose has scored fewer and fewer points every game of the series, culminating in a pretty dismal performance on Saturday.

"I didn't attach enough.  I think if I would've kept on attacking they would have had to make the call, but I eased off," Rose admitted.  After spraining his ankle in the first quarter, he never really seemed like himself, but he refused to use that to explain away the day's struggles. 

"It's no excuse. It's the playoffs.  I've sprained my ankle a million times, I just wasn't able to hit shots," he said.  "At the end of the game when we got things going, it got pretty easy, so we've got to do what we did at the end of the game in the beginning."

That, of course, is easier said than done.  Chicago is getting by against the postseason's only sub-.500 team with mediocre offense performances, but Luol Deng knows this won't fly should the team advance to later rounds of the postseason.

"We've got to do a better job of not falling behind like that," Deng said.  "It's a positive to not give up no matter what, but we need not to put ourselves in that situation.  We can't just play like that when we're down.  We've got to play like that the whole game."

It's generally accepted that the "knock-out" game is the hardest one to win because good NBA teams avoid elimination at all costs, but Joakim Noah explained that today's loss wasn't any more difficult than their three wins.

"Every game is the toughest," he said.  "This is not easy.  This is the NBA playoffs.  Everybody's competing hard, and everybody wants to win.  You see what it comes down to—it's nothing.  It's just on us.  I feel like if we play the way we played in the fourth quarter for 48 minutes, we win that ball game."

Carlos Boozer, who's had a hard series on both ends of the floor and in the media, was the least concerned of anyone in the locker room.  After the loss—and his missed three-pointer that would've tied the game—he stayed positive about the eventual outcome of the series, doing his best to keep everything in perspective.

"At the end of the day, this is the NBA, and this is the playoffs.  The team's that supposed to win, wins," he said.  "But in saying that, we know we can play much better."

And they're going to have to, not just on Tuesday when they try to close out the series, but for the rest of the postseason.  They can't beat good teams the way they're playing.  We can either be grateful to know that they haven't played their best ball yet, or we can be despondent because they haven't played their best ball yet.

Either way, the expectations for this team remain high, even if their level of play doesn't.  Something's got to change, and the team knows it.  We'll just have to wait and see if they'll be able to do something about it.


0 Responses so far:

Leave a Reply