Haven't this weekend been fun? All the emotions, swearing, fisticuffs, penalties, hard hits and the series isn't even over yet. The Bulls definitely came into Game 3 to shove and punk us around again and it worked.....not really. The main factor in the win was Mike Dunleavy's god-like performance. I was wondering in previous post about whether Thibodeau would be willing to sacrifice offense for defense and the answer was he would as Boozer and Dunleavy have played longer minutes in the past two games. However, Thibs still exhausted his lineup again with Dunleavy being the next culprit. Thibs nearly played Dunleavy for the whole game last Friday and had spurts where he sent out Dunleavy for the whole quarter at least half of the next quarter yesterday. Geez, talk about desperate. I used the term "desperate" because we've seen Wittman play Ariza and Wall for a whole 1st or 3rd but takes them out in the next quarter and won't bring them back until midway point. This is not a perfect rotation I mind you but it has worked and so far none of our players have suffered from exhaustion(seriously, knocking on wood). Welp, on to the more interesting non-Donald Sterling moments of the weekend.
Reading a recent post from Blog a Bull writer Ricy O'Donnell(http://www.blogabull.com/2014/4/28/5661136/bulls-wizards-nba-playoffs-game-5-stats), the Bulls were in the mindset that with Nene suspended and edging out Game 3, Game 4 is where they can put the postseason back together, and I can't blame them. The wiry duo of Noah and Gibson crashes the offensive boards unlike anyone in the league let alone the postseason. Six totals matches between us had past then and Thibs would have enough tape to conjure the ultimate scheme to stifle us from here on out. Things were looking up until Game 4 happened. What that game told us this:
-When we have depth, we REALLY have depth. Not many teams can say that including the one were facing now. This is thanks to the timely signings and trades from Grunfeld and trust that Wittman has in his squad. Trust is a key word since we have seen Lou Amundson, Jimmer Fredette or any other Bulls players. Heck, we rarely get a Tony Snell sighting from time to time (depending on the game).
-Too many holes and not enough plugs. If anything this series has done was enlightened the Bulls fanbase that SERIOUS changes needs to be made whether they win this series(highly unlikely) or not. Before the series began, everyone (media, fans alike) felt that Chicago's vaunted defense was impenetrable and only the elite units would able to dent it. Four games later and we exposed almost every flaw in that strategy. Couldn't contain the big man, the shooters, the passing lanes and fast break offense at the same time. Unlike some teams that depend on one, sometimes two players to carry the heavy scoring load, we do so as a unit. While everyone was looking for Wall to be the primary scorer, they ignored Nene (until he broke out), then Beal(and haven't contained him) and the Ariza(and he dropped 30 on them last night**. And this was going on while Wall was playing the facilitator role. And this is where Thibodeau and other failed to realize. Wall is not Rose, Irving, Westbrook, Jennings or Lillard. He doesn't need to score 20+ pts in order to have a "good game". Watching both games, he had decent performance and it didn't depend on his stats. It was how well the offense ran. Wall got to wherever he wanted on the court and make the best passes to the players in position to score. Even though Wall had a subpar shooting every game in the post season, he still commands so much attention from the Bulls defense that 3,4 and sometimes all of the defenders have an eye on him when he steps in the paint. Now that's respect*.
Few have dared to even consider it after Game 1 and dared to say it after Game 2 an now many observers (including Bulls themselves) that Wittman is outsmarting Thibodeau. I wouldn't say too much that Wittman has totally beaten Thibs in the fight of wits but he has an easier time creating and changing gameplans unlike Thibodeau. Wittman is able to send out 9-10 players a game if needed. Thibeodeau can barely consider 8 players worthy to play the game. And we'e seen what this has done in this series. The Bulls will sub for more energy off the bench with Augustin and Gibson but then crash near the end of the game due to playing nearly 40 minutes in consecutive games, if not stretches longer than a quarter. And these effects will carry into the next game. For a team that is as physical as the Bulls, it's surprising to see them become a victim of their style of play. They're style of play is suppose to wear us down, not the other way around. Because we refuse to let them punk us and approach their toughness with our own, I think they were actually shocked. Shocked that we had the gall to put our oft-injured PF on the DPOY and do it all game and again in the next game. That we would continue to shoot at a decent clip, get points whenever we want and dare to score over 100 pts in consecutive games. And this is all in front of their home fan who expect this game to be cake.
And then the game is played.
None of this matters if we lose the series but we just need to squeak one more win in three attempts. If anything I got from this series is that I'm glad we faced the Bulls. This series shown Wall and others that victories don't have to be pretty. That 4-15 shooting (16pts) and 10 assists just as impressive as long as its a win and that's all we care about. This series forced us to play team ball where as weeks ago, we lost consecutive games for being selfish. You can't play selfish against the Bulls. They thrive against selfish teams. They're easy to beat. It's rare to have a team where all five starters demand attention. I think we hit the right amount of balance.
*Have anyone notice the unusual amounts of defensive 3 second penalties called against the Bulls. This could be specifically related to Thibs strategy of keeping Wall out of the paint. However if our bigs spread out and either Noah, Gibson or Boozer just stand in the paint forcing Wall to shoot when doesn't have to.....yeah, not the best strategy.
**-Psst: Gortat and Wall are next.