NBA Playoffs: Bulls Prep for Losing Games 2, 3 and 4 by Losing Game 1

The Bulls will probably have just as much chance in this series if they game plan based on the above video as they will if they actually try to figure out scheme in which the players who wear their jerseys can beat the players who wear Cavs jerseys. Because none exist. The talent differential is simply too great, and the Bulls offense is simply too incompetent. They just can’t score regularly — they didn’t in Game 1 and they didn’t all season long — and that’s not particularly helpful when you’re matching up against the 6th best defense in the NBA.

In order to win a single game, the Bulls will need to get both inspired effort and dead-eye shooting from just about every member of their 8-man rotation, which consists of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and six other mediocre-at-best basketball players. In Game 1, they got neither of those things. Thus, they lost. Stellar analysis, I know. But it’s the truth. No one played well, aside from their second-year point guard for small stretches.

On the good side, Rose made 13 shots on his way to 28 points, piled up 10 assists and grabbed 7 boards while also creating some good open looks for his teammates on some drive-and-kick action and having at least one extended stretch of high-level play in the third quarter. Good stuff. But on the other hand, he missed 15 shots (to finish 13/28 overall), turned the ball over an inexcusable 7 times and, worse still, got to the line only twice. That’s just not going to get it done. Especially considering he played weak defense and allowed himself to be screened out of the play much too often.

But, aside from knuckling up and playing better D (which, let’s face it, wasn’t the side of the floor where Chicago really lost this game), what more would we have Rose do? He certainly needs to get to the line more, but it’s not like he was settling for jumpers and not penetrating. He drove plenty. He just didn’t finish enough or force enough contact, both of which are probably a helluva lot easier said than done when Cleveland’s entire interior is rotating to where you’re going to be before you even get there since there is no one on Chicago’s roster capable of burning them with the outside shot. When there is nothing to respect aside from Derrick getting to the cup or dumping the ball off to a big if the rotation is sloppy, the defense is just going to collapse and contest every inside shot with multiple guys. Some of Rose’s interior looks weren’t bad shots, per se. They were just tough looks and off-balance floaters that he isn’t used to taking since he normally doesn’t have to be that creative once he gets by an initial defender.

So, sure, we can look at Rose’s 13/28 night and say “you have to shot better … you can’t waste so many possessions.” Or we can look at Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich’s collective 9/25 shooting and say “I guess a Rose drive into the teeth of the defense that ends up in a turnover isn’t all that much worse than what would have probably happened otherwise.” Throw in Taj Gibson’s 4/10 night and a 4/9 evening for Noah, who I really can’t recall doing anything useful on offense (zero offensive boards, for instance), and it’s not as if the possessions wasted by Rose were likely going to be better utilized by anyone else in this failure pile in a sadness bowl that is the Bulls’ 27th ranked offense.

The nugget of potential effectiveness I did see that perhaps the Bulls should pursue a little deeper is Hakim Warrick in the post. Warrick played less than 10 minutes, so we probably won’t see much of him in Game 2 either, but he converted a little turnaround move over some good defense by LeBron in the second quarter. Then they went right back to him on the block and, while unsuccessful with the shot, he got another, similar good attempt up. Them being the Bulls and them being coached by a terrible, terrible, terrible coach, they of course never tried this again, but it looked like something that might provide four or five fewer wasted possessions in Game 2. And this is coming from someone who thinks that Hakim Warrick, for lack of a more poetical or adult word, sucks.

As for the Cavs, they were the Cavs.

Jay-Z style, what more can I say? Andy Varejao was diving into the stands and grabbing 15 boards. LeBron was impressively putting up a mediocre-for-him 24/6/5 line with a couple nice blocks (which were broken down in an awesome yet, as SLAM’s Marcel Mutoni put it, “pause-worthy” Sports Science segment about his swatability during half time). Shaq was being his average, large self. Mo Gotti, a name that I only use in an ironical, Black Mambaesque way, was getting buckets (8/14 overall and 3/7 from three). Jamison showed why his acquisition easily makes this the best team LeBron has ever played for by knocking down half his attempts (7/14) even when his outside J wasn’t falling (only 1/4 from deep) and collecting 10 boards. And Anthony Parker and Delonte West existed.

Yup. That’s the Cavs.

And at this point, the only thing the Bulls should be doing is investing in brooms. But, hey, at least they get to play 86 games while the Raptors only got 82. So there’s that.

Seth Carstens