10:08 AM CDT, May 10, 2012
So, I’m reading that Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer will have to put up another combined game of 40-plus points and 20-plus rebounds if the Bulls are going to win Game 6 in Philadelphia on Thursday night to force a deciding game at home.
Yes. Well. Does that Deng-Boozer 40-20 club have a lot of moments the last two seasons, specifically in the playoffs?
You keep thinking about that while I move on to the idea that all the pressure is on the 76ers to win Game 6 at home. That’s the conventional thinking. Teams play better at home, referees get intimidated, Philadelphia fans pack Uzis, and yadda, yadda, yadda.
By my count, the 76ers won’t be eliminated if they lose and the 76ers have won more games in Chicago than the Bulls have won in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia coach Doug Collins supposedly underscored the pressure on his team by saying he doesn’t want to return to Chicago for a Game 7. Some people might think that’s panic. Maybe Collins knows that his team plays better under the threat of Collins. Maybe he knows his players respond when it sounds as if they’re making daddy get out of his chair.
And you know what else all that talk of pressure on the 76ers sounds like? All that talk following Derrick Rose’s NBA Championship-killing injury in Game 1, that’s what.
You know the hollow, optimistic hooey I’m referring to. The Bulls players and coaches yammered on about their depth and how they’ve survived and thrived without Rose, just look at the record, they’re used to winning this way, and blah, blah, blah.
And how’d that work out for everyone?
By the way, the Bulls still haven’t won a fourth quarter in this series, and that includes the one in which Rose tore his left anterior cruciate title hope.
After their Game 5 win, the Bulls talked confidently about a game plan in which they get physical and stay physical. Couple issues there. First, the Bulls aren’t a physical team outside of Joakim Noah, who’s out, and Taj Gibson, who’s hobbled.
And second, everybody in the world knew the Bulls were bigger and stronger than the 76ers from the start, so why did they wait until they were on the brink of elimination to do something about it?
I’ll hang up and listen for a collective hummena-hummena-hummena.
Look, part of repeating a winning playoff formula is being smart enough to learn a lesson quickly. Too many of these Bulls look too stubborn or stupid.
Why wasn’t Game 5 played in Game 2? Weren’t Deng and Boozer leaders then, too? When will C.J. Watson learn to get rid of the ball immediately when the double-team comes? When will John Lucas III learn to get rid of the ball, period?
And the coach has to stand in the corner, too, for sending Ronnie Brewer to his room without dessert for too much of this series. Who knows why. Only when the Bulls faced elimination did Tom Thibodeau get Brewer back on the floor for extended minutes, and he responded with six points, eight rebounds, three steals and three assists.
Sorry, coach, but where was the 6-foot-7 Brewer when the bigger 76ers guards were destroying C.J. Smurf and John Lucas The Smurf during the Bulls’ three straight losses?
Something else about the Bulls’ Game 5 victory: If the Bulls need three bailout three-pointers from Deng in the fourth quarter of a game they won by only eight, then they had better wake up and realize they really don’t want that game again. They want the result, sure, but they can’t possibly want that blueprint. That couldn’t possibly have been the plan, and if it was, fire the architect.
I’m not criticizing Deng for making big baskets at the end of the shot clock. Thank goodness somebody did. No, I’m criticizing the Bulls for getting down to the end of the shot clock without being able to run their offense that late in a game and that late in a season.
If you’re going to tell us how much experience and confidence you have while playing without some of their best players, then show it or shut up.
If I’m the Bulls, I wouldn’t want to recreate Game 5. I’d opt for actual basketball.