You can already see the narrative starting to come together. No matter the fate of the 2014-15 Bulls, you can already sense where the blame is headed. Blame the players, they'll say. They -- of course referring to the hand wringing columnists which greatly outnumber Chicago's wholesome reporters -- will tell you the players didn't execute. I promise they'll tell you that. I can also promise they won't show you that. I, however, will show you what a lack of execution looks like. And I promise the visuals -- not the words -- do all the talking.
Naturally, let's start with the first possession of the game. Surely a coach that prepares as fiercely and diligently as Tom Thibodeau will have his players prepped and debriefed on defensive coverages. Surely Thibodeau will have explained to two of his worst defenders -- Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol -- that when Milwaukee runs their sunk-in version of pick-and-roll that they've been running ad nauseam, that Rose and Gasol will know how to communicate the proper defensive strategy. Surely.
Literally on the first defensive possession of the game there's a breakdown. How in the blue hell does that happen? Are Rose and Gasol good communicators? Not by any stretch. However, by now -- we are going to Game 6, after all -- how in the world do Rose and Gasol not know the proper switch protocol? Why would they even need to communicate it, here? It's the first play of the game! At some point between Game 4 and the opening tip, this had to be talked about. It's the same play the Bucks literally run over and over and over.
Now let's check in on the Bulls' second offensive possession of the game. The first possession resulted in good ball movement, netting an open Mike Dunleavy three-pointer which he missed. So, obviously the Bulls gotta revert back to the tried-and-true post offense that's generated a disgusting amount of turnovers this series!
There's Pau Gasol getting pushed off his spot by Zaza Pachulia, again. There's a double team awaiting Gasol, again. Man, where have we seen that before?
Golly, if only the Bulls could execute, though. It's not like the Bucks are fully adept at taking away the post. No, couldn't be that. Must be the players aggressively trying what they believe will eventually work. Surely they're not following the masterful offensive game plan Thibodeau crafted, they're just going rogue. Over and over and over.
I mean, the Bulls can space the floor and get good shots.
But why would Thibs bother doing that on a consistent basis? That would require playing Nikola Mirotic at his natural position. It would require staggering Gasol and Joakim Noah. But, wait! I have forgotten that Mirotic only shoots 30 percent from three-point range. Silly me. He can't be a floor spacer. Surely the Gasol and Noah tandem can carve out some decent spacing, right?
Thibs must've liked this spacing so much that he decided to do it on the most important possession of the game! Gotta go and execute though, fellas.
Come on, Derrick Rose! Quit trying to be the old Derrick Rose! Quit trying to make a play for your team when they need you most. The Rose stans out there call him Poohdini, right? Well maybe he can magically make some space appear in Game 6 because that's not Thibs' job, or anything.
Shame on Derrick Rose. Maybe he could learn a thing or two from Jimmy Butler. You see, Jimmy Butler at least runs the offense. Running post ups for Pau are so ingrained into Jimmy Butler's fiber that he won't even make a pass which would result in a layup! And here I thought the players were tuning Tom Thibodeau out?
But, lest we forget, Tom Thibodeau is not a man of offense. So, again, Thibs is absolved. It's those damn players not executing. I mean, how can you blame Thibodeau for Kirk Hinrich's -9 +/- in 1:32 of game action? How can you blame Thibodeau for using the jumbo lineup and not getting a single shot in the paint while that lineup was on the floor? How can you blame Thibs for the Bucks continuing to torch the Bulls on sideline out of bounds sets? I, for one, am not blaming Thibs for having Taj Gibson guard Jared Dudley a game too late. Hey, he made the adjustment. Who cares it cost them a game in the process?
Folks, in all seriousness now, I've blamed these players time and time again this season. I've knocked Pau many a time (he legit played well last night). I've called out Derrick before (he legit played AWFUL last night). I'd love to get more in depth about some of the other things that happened last night -- namely, Jo looking great -- but I can't keep talking about the players when the process isn't changing any. That's as stubborn as it gets.