You’re up by 1. You’re the best free throw shooter on the floor. But, instead, you pass the ball to your center who only shoots 50% from the charity stripe. He misses both. The end.
The Chicago Bulls knew it would be hard to advance to the second round without Derrick Rose. But, their chances quickly became slimmer when Joakim Noah went down with a sprained ankle. As the Bulls rallied to win game 5 at home, that gave them more confidence to win game 6. But, as the game went on, the confidence dwindled. A first round exit was not expected from a team that had a 50-16 record. The rest of the NBA teams weren’t the only opponents that the Bulls had to face. As the season went on, injuries became the biggest hurdle the Bulls had to climb over. Chicago maintained their record throughout the regular season even though Rip Hamilton was out the majority of the season and Derrick Rose went down permanently with a torn ACL during game 1 against the Sixers. Joakim rolled his ankle and the Bulls just could not overcome all of their bad luck that started to pile on all at once.
Led by Andre Iguodala, the Philadelphia 76ers will advance to the second round. This is the 5th time in NBA history that an 8th seed advanced over a top seeded team. Carlos Boozer was 1-11 from the field with just 3 points and 13 rebounds. Rough night for Boozer, who played well throughout the series. Luol Deng showed when the Bulls needed him, especially when Noah went down. He finished with 19 points and 17 rebounds. Taj Gibson played like a warrior after also injuring his ankle in game 5. Gibson had 14 points and 5 rebounds in 29 minutes.
Backup point guard, CJ Watson, had only 6 points. But, Watson did dish out 10 assists. He made several mental errors that certainly counted heavily against the Bulls. CJ was great in the regular season when Rose was out with injuries. But, he continued to underachieve as the starting point guard in the post season. His confidence in his shooting had completely disappeared. He panicked with his decision making, chucking up unnecessary shots with plenty of time on the shot clock. John Lucas has heart, but his decision making isn’t any better. During the offseason, the Bulls will have to make a lot of tough decisions. They’ll certainly need a backup point guard. Luol Deng is expected to have surgery on his wrist and there’s no time table yet on how long he’ll be out. Rose also will have surgery to repair his ACL. Players who tear their ACL are usually out for 6-10 months. With contract salaries, there’s no guarantee that everyone on the “bench mob” will be back. Expect a lot of a changes to come in the offseason to prepare for the absence of Derrick Rose and Luol Deng.
The Chicago Bulls are fighters. But, some battles aren’t meant to be won. Maybe…next year? Or the year after that?