NBA Playoffs 2011: What Went Wrong for the Chicago Bulls Against the Heat?
Either way, it seemed as if the series was almost guaranteed to be outstanding and at least six games. The Bulls started strong and won the first game, but imploded afterwards.
So what went wrong?
It's hard to put the league MVP under the banner of "What went wrong." It's even harder to say this about arguably a top ten or top five talent in the NBA who start for the USA National Team in 2012 Olympics. Yet, Derrick Rose did not play like a MVP, an Olympian, and an outstanding NBA talent.
The first aspect was his shooting. Rose shot only 35 percent from the field and started to miss lay-ups on drives that he normally makes. His three point shooting was also terrible as he was making 23 percent of his shots.
Yes, he scored. But that was only because he took so many shots. If Rose had shot as well as he had during the season, 44.5 percent, the Bulls easily could have won.
As the point guard, even more blame falls on Rose when the offense does not flow effectively. Rose only averaged 6.6 assists per game. If he had averaged his regular season numbers, 7.7, more points would have been scored, and the Bulls would have won an extra game at least.
Let's just be honest here, Boozer was terrible and needs to be traded. But more on that in a future article. Boozer, either because of his age or injuries, had no elevation on his jump shot. He simply could not convert at the level needed, or the level expected of an 80 million dollar man. The man scored 14 points a game during this series, but that number is actually inflated. If Boozer did not have that one game where he scored over 20, his average would be even lower.
The next issue was his defense. He was only on Chris Bosh every once in a while, but when he was, Bosh exploited him. In game five, Dwayne Wade consistently went around him to convert at the basket, and made it look easy. Even though his man was not the one who was scoring, Joel Anthony, his help defense led to many buckets. If Boozer had put in more effort on the defensive end, this series could still be undetermined.
And speaking of defense, where was the Bulls vaunted defense throughout this series. True, the Heat do have three outstanding offensive weapons. But the Bulls beat them three times this season, and each win was because of the Bulls defense.
Luol Deng normally plays Lebron James with a toughness and ability that few in the league could match. Heck, he has been defending James since high school and knows how to slow him down. He did it in game one. But Luol simply could not keep up this series.
The Bulls defensive anchor is Joakim Noah. That is his job, that is why he was given such a large contract extension. Noah, along with Luol, did not play well at all. Chris Bosh managed to score at will against him. He also could not stop Lebron James when he was switched onto him. How many times did James nail a three over Joakim.
As with Derrick Rose, it seems hard to blame the Coach of the Year for this series. Yet, Thibodeau was unable to lead his team as effectively as he did during the season. He was thoroughly out-coached by the constantly criticized Erik Spolestra.
The first issue was the offense. His superstar obviously was not playing well, and had trouble getting past the much longer Lebron James. As coach, Thibodeau should have created some offensive set that would free Rose up and get him some open looks at the basket. The same with Boozer; if Thibodeau had gotten him some open shots and Boozer got hot, the Bulls would have won more games.
The next issue is simply motivation. Any athlete will tell you the coach plays a huge role in determining your mindset going into each and every game. Thibodeau was unable to impart the importance of this series to such a degree that the Bulls were motivated enough to go out and play this series as if it were their last. This lack of ability to finish out close games can be directly tied to Thibodeau not "rallying the troops" effectively.