NBA Playoffs 2011: Playing the Blame Game in Chicago
The Miami Heat have figured out how to outlast the Chicago Bulls and shut down any offensive game plan they planned on using. After such a promising Game 1 performance, this has not only devastated the Bulls but also their fans. On the brink of elimination, who is to blame for a 3-1 deficit to the surging Heat? Of course, it cannot only be a single person, it has to be distributed among the whole team. Here is the breakdown of the blame game.
Since Game 1, the bench has been about as good as Kyle Korver's shot and defense combined—not too spectacular. They have not been able to hold their own and have made foolish and careless mistakes. Omer Asik's unfortunate injury to his leg has caused Joakim Noah to play abnormal amounts of minutes, wearing the Bulls down towards the finish line.
Taj Gibson has been almost invisible and unmentioned this series. Korver cannot seem to find his long range shot, which just so happens to be the only thing he is being payed for.
Blame: 15 percent.
Derrick Rose has been less than an MVP throughout this series. He has been heavily outshined by LeBron James and cannot muster any clutch shots as he can barely score in the fourth quarter.
Given that he has not had much of a supporting cast to aid him, and the Heat defense is solely based on shutting him down, he still has not been able to play a good, consistent series as he has forced up many difficult shots. Rose has yet to be the cool, calm and collected leader Chicago has grown so used to.
Blame: 25 percent
Carlos Boozer has actually improved in the last two games as he has reached at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in each. With a decent offense comes a terrible defense, though. Whenever Boozer scores you can bet your bottom that he'll allow an easy drive down the lane.
Joakim Noah, while struggling with Chris Bosh in Game 3, improved his defense in Game 4, but cannot find any offensive game. Bosh has already gone off on him twice in this series. Noah played excessive minutes in the last contest due to the Omer Asik injury.
Keith Bogans has pretty much done what Keith Bogans does. He misses a few open threes while hitting one or two and plays strong defense. He has kept Dwyane Wade in check through this point of the series. His inability to consistently hit shots has killed the Bulls, though, as they do not need to focus on him and can double Rose.
Luol Deng has hit the biggest shots so far this series. He has done the best job Bulls' fans can expect on LeBron James who is the best player in the league. He may not be the most valuable, but he is certainly the best. That's for a different article, though.
Blame: 20 percent
Coaching and Management
Coach Thibodeau has given players such as Kyle Korver questionable minutes. When Korver isn't hitting shots, he's essentially worthless on the court. When it's a tie game down the stretch, Korver isn't the answer as a strong defense is needed. He failed to make in-game adjustments and has been out-couched throughout this series. The Heat defense has completely dominated the Bulls offense with exception to Game 1.
So, what can management do wrong in a playoff series?
They can rely on the same guys too much. There was no deal made before the deadline to bring a shooting guard to town. Without that shooting threat next to him, Rose cannot carry the team on his back as defenses will only try to shut the exciting point guard down. Miami succeeded in that and nobody is there to pick up the slack. Scoring has become difficult for Chicago and management did not do their job in supplying help.
Blame: 40 percent
As credit should be given to Miami for shutting Chicago down, there are definitely factors within the Bulls team that contributed to these losses. There is plenty of blame to go around, whether it be Derrick Rose, the rest of the roster, coaching or management.
No matter what way you look at it, the Bulls have work to do since they're still technically alive in this series. There's no time to throw around blame when the series has yet to be finalized. It takes four wins to take a series, and last I checked, Miami only had three.