In a season filled with inexplicable, bewildering losses I'm not sure we've witnessed one worse than last night. It wasn't just the manner in which the Bulls lost -- obtain big lead, then blow said lead, lose in stunning fashion and don't forget to be outworked by inferior competition along the way -- because we've seen that movie before. What especially sucked about last night was the playoff seeding implications as the Bulls are now back in the No. 4 seed. Ricky touched on the what the Bulls' schedule looks like the rest of the way in his recap, so if you want details check that out. Otherwise, you know the drill: seven observations. Let's get it.
1) Not Tom Thibodeau's Finest Hour
The fourth quarter was a complete disaster for the Bulls. In large part, that was because Tom Thibodeau played some downright bizarre lineups. First, he started the quarter with his trademark double point guard lineup featuring Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich while Jimmy Butler briefly rested. Why Tony Snell isn't playing there I sure as hell don't know, however I'd love to get an explanation. But anyway, Thibs then stuck with a jumbo lineup (classified as any lineup where Nikola Mirotic is playing the small forward position) until the 2:50 mark. And wouldn't you know, as soon as Mirotic slid to power forward thereafter, he immediately hit a three-pointer. More on the jumbo lineup in a bit.
My biggest gripe of all, though, was to not have Jimmy Butler receive a single touch or have a play drawn up for him multiple instances down the stretch. Jimmy's your best playmaker, he'd played the best game to that point, why go away from him completely when it mattered most? Why were both inbounds plays with under a minute to go designed for Pau Gasol?
Oh, and hey, Jimmy's shooting 47.8 percent (!!!) on threes since February. Just so everyone is aware.
I just don't get it. Playing two point guards and three dudes 6-foot-9 or taller together. Not getting Jimmy the ball in crunch time. Something ain't adding up.
2) ENOUGH WITH THE LOBS
Six times last night. Six. The Bulls tried -- and failed -- on six lob attempts. They threw two to Taj Gibson, three to Jimmy, and of course the one to Pau with 1.5 seconds left was the icing on the cake. You didn't connect on the previous five attempts. And hell, none of them were even close to being on the money. What made you think it was going to work on the most important possession of the game, Thibs? I demand answers.
3) Thank You Based Prada
SB Nation's very own Mike Prada doing work on the problem with playing a jumbo lineup:
Here’s the problem with the Bulls’ 3 big lineups. Teams will help off Taj if they try to post Butler pic.twitter.com/9xgKrYYYzM— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) April 9, 2015
Again it’s no shock that Chicago can’t get this ball to Butler in the post pic.twitter.com/TLvtgardcQ— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) April 9, 2015
4) Early Season Mistake In April
How this happens in April is absolutely beyond me:
Orlando runs a pretty standard variation of a dribble hand-off, and for some reason Butler and Dunleavy are flummoxed by it. Also, if you look closely it appears Dunleavy tries signaling to Butler that a switch should be executed, however they fail on communicating it. But then, watch Dunleavy's reaction after the shot goes in. Interesting how he seems to blame himself for the mix-up. At any rate, the bottom line is that a Tom Thibodeau coached team shouldn't experience lapses late in the season like this.
5) Jimmy v. Dipo
So...uh...Victor Oladipo kinda has Jimmy's number. Credit the kid for not backing down. I'm not sure if Oladipo will ever be a star in this league, but I think at the very least -- I intend this to be a major compliment -- he'll be the Luol Deng of guards.
OK, I'm done being the no fun police though. We're ending on a couple of lighter notes because you deserve it, damnit.
6) Niko Claps Exactly Like You'd Expect a Foreigner To Clap
After reexamining the tape, apparently Niko will bust out this hilariously weird clapping form every now and again. It's awesome. It's so innocent. It's so Niko.
What a quirky fella.
7) You Didn't Fall, Good Job Kurt
To be honest, I'm pretty much past picking on Kirk. But since Thibs insisted on playing him over both Tony Snell and Mike Dunleavy in the fourth quarter, I wasn't gonna let that shit slide.