I said when Derrick Rose went down that the Bulls were still equipped to win three of the last six games of the series. I stand by that. The Bulls weren't really exposed, as what went wrong was stuff: (a) we already knew they couldn't do; and (b) stuff they were able to do but didn't or decisions that were mistakes.
The Bulls and Sixers both locked down in the fourth quarter to prevent either team from running much of anything resembling an NBA offense. Going into that final quarter, the game was tied and the Sixers only needed 16 points to outscore the Bulls for the win.
But the Bulls dug a hole in the second quarter and saw themselves down by 12 against a very tough defense, having limited offensive weapons with their two best playmakers -- Rose and Joakim Noah -- out with injuries.
Here's a list of how the Bulls beat themselves in a game against a defense that was great at punishing mistakes:
- The Bulls turned the ball over five times in that second quarter where they were outscored 24-18 (the Sixers scored nine points off of those turnovers and had eight fastbreak points. Do the math.);
- The Sixers only got 14 shots up in the second quarter, shooting 42.9%, but the Bulls sent their opponents to the free throw line for 14 attempts;
- The Sixers hit 11 of those free throws in that quarter where they outscored the Bulls by six and took an eight-point lead into halftime (Do the math.);
- Carlos Boozer shot 1-for-9 in that first half where the Bulls were outscored by eight (Do the math.);
- Kyle Korver played 5:19 -- all in the first half -- and didn't get up one shot;
- John Lucas III played as if he was getting paid for how many seconds he could personally drain from the shot clock and bonuses for how many times he could pass to teammates where they had no choice but to try beating the shot clock;
- The ineptitude of Boozer and Lucas with the Bulls' injuries forced C.J. Watson, Omer Asik, Luol Deng, and Richard Hamilton to play the entire second half as there were no other long scorers, paint anchors, and ball handlers with which to relieve them;
- Running on fumes, those players just couldn't produce a halfcourt offense anyway, as they needed offensive possessions to rest and Philly was still performing at excellent levels on the ball.
- In the final quarter, Watson was too busy taking himself out of plays by flopping than challenging shots, let alone pressuring to disallow shots.
- In the final seconds, the refs completely blew a call where Spencer Hawes committed what should've been a flagrant foul on Omer Asik, but Asik shouldn't have had the ball at all, as Watson should've run to the corner and killed clock and taken an intentional foul as the best foul shooter on the floor;
- After Asik missed both free throws with seconds remaining in the game and the Bulls only up by one, Gibson and Deng completely fucked up positioning to grab the rebound and no one pressured Andre Iguodala's run up the floor;
- The Bulls allowed 19 fastbreak points;
- Other than their nine fastbreak points and 29 second chance points, the Bulls only scored 40 points on 16-for-62 shooting (25.8%).
Credit to the Sixers for awesome defense. And Doug Collins for conceding a lot of rebounds to the Bulls, so his guys could reset their defense faster. I don't want to take anything away from how great they rotated throughout the series.
But the Bulls fucked up. A lot in this series.
Stats via NBA.com [.pdf].