The game was a tale of two halves for both teams, as both played the second half in a manner that was the complete opposite of their first half performances.
Chicago had a small lead at the end of the first but used some efficient scoring in the second quarter to push it out a bit before halftime; then, the third quarter happened.
It’s not a rare occurrence for the Bulls to play a little flat coming out of the mid-game break, but their third quarter performance in Game 2 was atrocious.
The Bulls’ lack of energy and defensive intensity was a strange sight to anyone who saw Chicago rack up 55 first half points and hold the Sixers to eight points in the last six minutes of the second quarter.
But that second half was more than just the story of a team searching for a rhythm; this was a team searching for a new identity.
It was obvious that in the first half of Game 2, the Bulls were thriving off the “Do-It-For-Derrick” energy supplied by the Rose’s presentation of the game ball, and the crowd showed the Bulls they were still loved and supported.
Halftime broke that continuity, and in the second half, Chicago struggled mightily to give the crowd a reason to cheer.
Philadelphia started to chip away at the deficit, and the Bulls started to go cold; usually, this would be the time where Tom Thibodeau would use Rose to break the offensive stagnation.
But without their certified shot creator in the line-up, the Bulls fell behind midway through the quarter , and they never saw the lead again.
The first half saw the Bulls run off of pure adrenaline; the second half showcased the Bulls' sans-Rose playoff identity, which was much different than the regular season team established prior to the postseason.
With all the talk of how important it’s going to be for everyone to step up and play harder in Rose’s absence, someone needs to step up more and be the new leader of this team.
The Bulls were, and still are, a well-oiled machine, with each player assuming the role of a cog whose turning helps the other pieces go.
Whenever that machine gets jammed, it was Rose who got it working again. Chicago is missing that piece.
The problem is that the Bulls are a very unselfish team and that works to both their benefit and their detriment.
Flashing back to the Game 2 loss, as Philadelphia was going on their third quarter tear, Chicago stuck to their same offensive formula hoping for something to kick in.
That something never came.
Someone should have been able to take a look at what was happening and provide the example for everyone else to follow.
No matter how disciplined and committed Thibodeau’s team is, it means nothing without a leader to anchor the ship when the playoff seas get rough.
Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Richard Hamilton or Joakim Noah—take your pick.
Somebody has to step up and be the beacon that picks up where Rose left off and guides this team.
Without a new head, the collective Bulls body is bound to whither bringing the offseason to Chicago a lot sooner than expected.