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The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

Bulls’ once-promising season ends in devastation

The Bulls had a disappointing season. I don’t care if they finished the season 50-16 and that they had the best record overall. I only care that they could not get out of the first round of the playoffs. I understand that Derrick Rose tore his ACL in Game 1, but the Bulls played 27 games without him this season and had a winning record. Without Rose in the playoffs, the Bulls went 1-4. During the regular season they went 18-9 minus Rose.

It is unacceptable in my opinion to play as badly as they did in the playoffs.

Coming into the playoffs, the Bulls were the favorite to win the series against the Philadelphia 76ers. A lot of commentators even thought they would go to the Eastern Conference Finals and play the Miami Heat. Well, everyone who thought that was wrong.

The Bulls had a landslide win in Game 1, but with one minute left in the game, Rose went up for a shot and his knee buckled, causing him to tear his ACL.

Never has a stadium of 22,000 people gone as silent as they did that fateful afternoon at the United Center.

Even though the Bulls didn’t have Rose for the rest of the playoffs, I was convinced they could still beat the 76ers. Loul Deng was an all-star, Joakim Noah had a monster season and Richard “Rip” Hamilton was coming back healthy and had a great Game 1.

Again, everyone who thought that was wrong. Carlos Boozer’s offense was non-existent, Noah sprained his ankle in game 3 and didn’t play the rest of the series and the bench didn’t contribute much.

The Bulls have two backup point guards that could easily start on a lot of teams in the NBA.

C.J. Watson and John Lucas III were great during the regular season and I thought that their energy, ball skills, defense and point production would carry over into the playoffs.

Again, I would be wrong. Watson had an awful playoffs and Lucas didn’t play enough to truly affect a game.

Kyle Korver, who had been a reliable outside shooter during the regular season, couldn’t knock down a shot and had games where he didn’t have a point. That is not acceptable from the backup shooting guard.

A bright side in the playoffs was the play of Taj Gibson and Omer Asik. When Noah went down with injury, those two guys really needed to step up and they did. Asik started in Noah’s place and even though his offense wasn’t as productive, his defense was better. He blocked shots that were floaters in the paint and he forced offensive fouls on the 76ers.

Gibson would come in for Carlos Boozer. It was unclear to me why Gibson didn’t start because he was a much better player in the playoffs than Boozer.

When Gibson came in, he immediately made a difference. Just like with Asik, Gibson’s defense sparked offense and he would have the occasional dunk that would energize the team and the crowd.

Gibson was able to turn the game around a few minutes, while he and Asik made the front court of the Bulls the best in the playoffs. Unfortunately, Gibson tweaked his ankle in Game 4 and wasn’t the same after that. He was a more cautious player who didn’t show the same intensity that he had before he got hurt.

The main story in my opinion was the play of  Watson.

After Rose went down, Watson was expected to be the number one point guard with Lucas backing him up. That shouldn’t have too much of a problem because the two of them had to do that almost half of the season. Apparently though, it was too much to ask from Watson. He couldn’t score from the three point line or the free throw line, or even a layup. He would hold onto the ball for too long and by the time the Bulls could set up a good play, the shot clock would be almost down to zero.

Lucas didn’t play much better either. He could knock down a shot, but he was too short to go into the paint and kick the ball out to a perimeter shooter.

Loul Deng’s playoff experience was very inconsistent. He would carry the team in some game, but in others, he was invisible.

With Rose hurt, it was Deng’s responsibility to be the leader and show the team how to win. Granted, he had a torn ligament in his wrist, but he had been playing through that all season.

The Bulls started the regular season as one of the top teams in the NBA. They finished the playoffs as a team that relies too much on one player and aren’t a threat without Rose.

Next season, the starts need to play like stars throughout the season and into the playoffs. If they don’t, I would expect big changes coming for the Bulls.

I already expect a few things to happen once the offseason starts. I would assume the Bulls would trade for a solid backup point guard because Watson and Lucas showed they couldn’t handle the pressure.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bulls got rid of Boozer and had Gibson start at power forward. Noah and Deng are the only two players who, in my mind, will definitely come back next season and keep their starting jobs.

Even though the Bulls picked up Tom Thibodeau’s option for next year, I would expect a few changes to happen with his coaching style.

He plays the stars too much and doesn’t allow them to have breaks in the games. He needs to understand that game 20 in the regular season is not Game 7 of the NBA Championship.

I like Thibodeau; I think he is a great coach and the players respect him. If he cut back on playing time, maybe Rose wouldn’t be hurt and maybe the Bulls would still be in the playoffs playing the Celtics.

The Bulls have a long offseason ahead of them, which might be just what they need; time to relax and think about their playoff performance.

Don’t be surprised if the Bulls have a total makeover during the offseason.


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