AKA Game Four Roundup Links + Know your Fanposts/Fanshots
Tough to not already start reflecting on this series, season, and franchise after game four put the Bulls down 3-1. When Joakim Noah says post-game 'sometimes effort isn't enough', he was talking about the need to play smart as well, but it could be extrapolated a lot into how the Bulls focus and emphasize their entire Org.
But I'll try and avoid it for now, there's plenty of time. Especially if that elimination occurs as soon as Thursday. At least that will be a home game...and if the Bulls win that one, there's the whole 'pressure' thing with the Heat not wanting to go to game 7, then the 'anything can happen in a game 7' thing. It's a story for any team with home court down 3-1, but rarely pulled off. And I think the most daunting aspect of it isn't the historical improbability, but the team they're trying to do it against.
Let's start with Derrick Rose and how the Bulls tried to mix things up. Sebastian Pruiti goes into the Bulls moving the Rose pick/roll to different areas of the court. At The Basketball Jones, Pruiti is less enamored of the late-game isolations for Rose employed by the Bulls. Mike McGraw questions the staleness of that final play-call in regulation as well. McGraw then went on about a discrepancy in officiating. Something Thibodeau addressed specifically in regards to the calls he expects Rose to get but isn't getting, and also giving the pretty heartwarming (hey, it was!) 'Derrick's my guy' moment. That theme continued into Wednesday, which is nice and all, but: it also leads to the 'save us, Derrick' mindset that creeps into every late game (or even quarter) situation. Doug Thonus laments the decision to stop pushing the pace and instead have Rose walk the ball up. To be fair to the Bulls though, all teams do that.
Including the Heat with LeBron James. Though in the above link, Thonus thinks Rose sabotaged his own game more than LeBron stopped it, James sure seemed effective in what was a key performance in his career. And with Rose opposite him having a very rough series, it's easy to draw the parallel that maybe, like James did once, Rose's struggles is just part of what young superstars face.
But hopefully that's just hooey and Rose, Korver and the rest can regain form and extend this series. As Kelly Dwyer pointed out, it's not as if the Bulls can't play better, and there's some sense of unfinished business in that.
Other stuff from a game perhaps best forgotten, though we'll always have this dunk.:
- Turns out Omer Asik tried playing on a broken leg in game four, and is now ruled out for the season. Total bummer ending to what was a fantastic rookie campaign. This could mean an appearance from Kurt Thomas. Or the Bulls deciding to go small more, which may not work either but at least is something different.
- Even with Asik out most of last game, Taj Gibson barely played. Beckley Mason over at HoopSpeak shows how Thibs decision of instead giving heavy minutes to Carlos Boozer cost them on the defensive end.
- In that Boozer post, Mason uses the line "a game that felt like a 53 minute crunch time", which as an invested viewer definitely seemed accurate. In that spirit Zach Lowe points out 3 situations unrelated to the end of the game that cost the Bulls. By the Horns goes all the way back to the 1st quarter to give attention to a significant run by the Heat.
- And in terms of players that get less attention, Ira Winderman explains how important having Mike Miller's skillset (the points were nice too) is to the Heat's versatility. Miller's 3-pointers in the game are even more surprising given the injury he's playing through.
And finally, some random interesting notes from Henry Abbott at TrueHoop, with the message that as a basketball fan he wants this series to continue. As a Bulls fan I certainly agree.