Man, Sunday's game will be like a freaking wake. I guess I won't have anything better to do...
I watched at a bar tonight so it was tough to get a full gauge of the collapse, but if anything the 2nd half reaffirms what the first two blowouts told us: this team is far far away from contention.
There is no implied destiny involved with these losses. The NBA doesn't work where you lose in the first round a couple years, then the second round a year, and eventually you get to the Finals. It worked that way 20 years ago because they had Michael Jordan. It doesn't work that way for every young team, and the history of the league is littered with abandoned young squads that once had the promise but never made it. The whole situation needs to be re-evaluated, not just because they've lost, but how every time Detroit wanted to put them away they simply did, making this talent gap seem pretty vast. If it takes minor tweaks (plus internal development) or a more thorough overhaul is up to Pax, but we can feel reassured to know that from what he's told the media Pax himself isn't satisfied with this cute fun little team he's assembled.
In comparison to the roster, I don't think the coach is as much of the problem, but for tonight Skiles wasn't part of the solution either. After getting contributions from Tyrus and Thabo in the first half, they were completely benched in the second. Thankfully our man Duh got a DNP tonight, but even with the starters in the game for most of the second half Skiles bizarrely didn't make any substitutions until the lead was slipping away, and only then it was Nocioni (And if this series hasn't proved the need for Noc to go, I don't know what does) who came in after Tyrus was the first big off the bench in the first half. In a series where you're out-manned it takes some risks to try and get an edge, and I think everybody was willing to accept the risk of playing rookies whereas Skiles was hoping just to stick with his guys until the bitter end. It was a play-not-to-lose strategy that can't be used in a game that was firmly in control. They had to make it a blowout in the third so the Pistons would pack it in for the night. Once they were let back into the game it was already lost, because they simply use their possessions better.
But a bigger problem than the frontcourt rotation is their supposed star perimeter players, of whom you can't think leads to a championship after such an abysmal stretch in that half. The problem with 'ball-movement' offense is that it gives the ball opportunity to find the other team. It'd be nice for a few possessions to find one player to give the ball to and just let him create, as in the boring yet effective isolation NBA basketball. I had thought Gordon was the type to be that guy but he's been extremely disappointing all series, and like the rest of the team he had a great first half only to fall back towards mediocrity after that. Perhaps a team better than mediocre can beat most of the teams in the league. But it's not good enough to beat a team playing at an elite level, and while there's incremental success this season it does not imply that the Bulls ever get to that same pinnacle.