May 8, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers power forward Elton Brand (42) during the first half of game five in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the United Center. The Bulls won 77-69. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE
The Bulls season is over, and unfortunately there will be far more time to talk about it than we anticipated. Alex has a great-if-depressing breakdown of the many things that went wrong (especially down the stretch) in Game Six.
Mentioned among those was Boozer's awful night: going 1-9 in the first half, starting the second half 0-2 with two turnovers and foul, and then sitting the final 16 minutes of an elimination game. ESPNChicago has Boozer's response when asked about it after the game:
I just missed them. Some nights are like that. Some nights you're on fire, some nights you're not. Tonight I wasn't.
Previously in the series, Boozer had been inefficient but was at least trying to carry more of the offensive load. For his final game, one could see it was beyond a disaster when Booz was left open on the perimeter and he no longer wanted to shoot. The 1-11 performance brought his 2012 playoffs field goal percentage to 42%, but it was much worse than that: In the 6 games, Boozer had 23 turnovers. Only 7 free-throw attempts. His playoff PER was 10.2, a number that doesn't even encapsulate the usual poor decision-making and ability on the defensive end.
(PER does factor in his rebounding totals, which in game six was a fairly-great 13 in 27 minutes. No matter how bad the game was, the Bulls died doing what they loved: rebounding the hell out of the ball, getting 35% of offensive rebounds and 89% of the defensive ones)
Boozer's correct in that some nights the jumpers will fall. We saw it in stretches in these playoffs, though even on his good nights they'd wind up achieving only mediocre efficiency. That's the overall problem of making that type of shot the vast majority of your arsenal, something that was noticeable all season. Another foreboding sign was how his numbers would be depressed against playoff-caliber teams, perhaps a sign that they'd be pushing him even further away from the basket. The Sixers, though having an underrated defender in Elton Brand and athletes ready to swipe at the ball, had amongst the weakest frontcourts in the playoffs. And not only did Boozer not 'step up', he played much worse than his solid regular season. And unlike last year when that happened, this time he was completely healthy.
I disagree with the main thrust of the ESPNChicago post that we should expect Boozer to play better because Derrick Rose is out. The idea of picking up that slack sounds good, but it makes more sense to expect worse play when your best teammate isn't on the court. But Boozer was getting more touches and shots as a result of Rose's absence. The problem is that those shots are a difficult and unreliable source of points, as they had been all season, but is more glaring against the good teams the Bulls see in the playoffs. And, unfortunately, Boozer will likely only rely on them more as he gets older. And as mentioned at the top, we'll have a lot of time to discuss whether the Bulls should still rely on him.