Bulls Tie Up Series: Experiencing 100 Different Emotions on One Sunday Afternoon
The Bulls won in double overtime last night in what was one of the greatest NBA games all year. In fact, ESPN Classic will be showing the game at 4 p.m. CT as an instant classic. (h/t: Matt at the Thigh) I was at the game, and the roller coaster of emotions almost killed me. Sure the Bulls won, but it wasn’t all good things. Let’s walk through the emotions one by one.
Awe: One fact has become increasingly clear during this series–Derrick Rose is not the only future superstar point guard playing. Rajon Rondo is absolutely amazing. Although he is far different than Rose, he brings some of the same greatness to the game that Rose does. He can get anywhere on the court at will. The difference is where Rose has strength and speed, Rondo relies almost exclusively on speed. His ability to rebound is also amazing. He has averaged about 11 rebounds a game this series and Sunday was no different. He has two triple-doubles in this series. I felt most of the game that even with guys like Pierce and Allen on the court, the game would hinge on the Bulls ability to stop or at least contain Rondo.
Anger: This may seem insignificant, but at the time it was possibly a game-changing play. With 16 seconds left in regulation and the Bulls up by 2, Tyrus Thomas corralled the rebound. He looked left and right and saw Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon. Unfortunately, in true Tyrus Thomas form, he started dribbling around knowing that Boston was looking to foul. Not to say that Tyrus isn’t a decent free throw shooter, but when you have Rose shooting well over 80% from the line and Gordon being the best free throw shooter on the team, why would Tyrus think that he should be shooting the big free throws? Sure enough he only made 1 of 2 which set up Allen for the game-tying 3. I posed this question to my dad at the game, and I think it summarizes the issue with Tyrus: “Is the problem that Tyrus doesn’t think enough, or that he tries to think too much?” The answer remains a mystery.
Respect: Going into this game, the one thing that seemed to be hurting the Bulls the most was defense. Brad Miller was the main suspect for this problem. His inability to move faster than a snail was killing the Bulls on the defensive AND offensive end. Like the true veteran he is, he came up huge when it counted. He had a very big game on both ends, and most significantly he showed some spine when he stood up to Big Baby Davis. He showed that the Bulls will not be pushed around by what had been a Jordan-Rules-esque defensive scheme by the Celtics so far in this series. Come on Davis, why are you flopping on this little scuffle anyways? Grow up.
Frustration: It seemed like every single time there was a big free throw to be made, I heard a loud clank come from the basket. Although overall the Bulls shot a mediocre 26-35 from the line, it seemed like every player got to take part in the brickfest. What really started it was Hinrich missing 2 of 3 on a 3-point foul. He had a great game overall, but he went 2-5 from the line in the 4th and overtime. He wasn’t the only one though. Rose, Noah, Tyrus and even BG missed big free throws down the stretch. Ahhh!! Missed free throws during crunch time are one of the most frustrating things to watch in an NBA game.
Joy: Gordon was playing a decent game going into the 4th quarter, but in general Allen was keeping the ball out of his hands. Then he started to make some shots at the end of the 4th and into overtime. When the end of the first overtime was closing in, the Bulls were down 3 with 9 seconds left and things were not looking good. The crowd was basically silent, counting down the seconds until what seemed like the inevitable loss. Without KG Boston struggles to defend the paint, but overall they are still very good on the perimeter. Ben Gordon didn’t give a shit about all that. He took a crazy looking off-balance 3 and everyone held their collective breath…and it went in! The stadium erupted and the Bulls survived for another overtime. I wish we could afford to keep that kid next season, he can take a team on his back and literally shoot them to a win. And anyone that thinks he’s soft or doesn’t care, take a look at this explaining how he had a shot at halftime to play through pain during his great 4th quarter and overtime. Oh and if you missed it, after he made that shot, he did a little crotch-grab for everyone’s enjoyment:
Disgust: I hate Glen “Big Baby” Davis. It’s not that he is a terrible player, but he’s not as good as he’s played this series. A double-double yesterday? The guy is undersized, has no offensive skills and is pretty slow. When he raised his hands to Miller I wanted to strangle him. The less I have to see of that moron the better.
Appreciation: While John Salmons has had a pretty mediocre series on the offensive end, his ability to keep Pierce in front of him and contest all of his little mid-range jumpers on the defensive end has been nothing short of spectacular. Unfortunately it has gone almost completely unnoticed by most fans and media this series. In fact, when discussing Salmons with NQTC reader Adam, a generally knowledgeable Bulls fan, all he wanted to focus on was how Salmons has been terrible and was explaining to me how Salmons was a black hole on offense. With Salmons draped all over Pierce the last 4 games, the Truth has shot 8-21, 8-19, 9-15, and 9-24. Besides that Game 3 blowout, Salmons has held Pierce to about 40.5% from the field. This is the Finals MVP who literally won the championship for the Celtics last year with his ability to score, contained by a relentless Salmons. I love this guy.
Exasperation: Obviously once the offseason begins, I will have a lot more to say about this guy. Suffice it to say I was keeping a close eye on Vinny after his timeout bloopers earlier in the series. He didn’t disappoint, this time with countless questionable coaching moves. Here’s the list that I noticed.
- You’re not going to make sure coming out of that timeout at the end of regulation that someone, anyone, keeps a hand in Allen’s face? They need a 3 to tie and Allen is literally an assassin in those situations. Come on.
- What was with that small lineup? I know Tyrus is difficult at times, but come on! We were getting killed on the glass and needed some rebounders in there to prevent Boston from getting second chance opportunities.
- Get the ball to Rose or Gordon to shoot free throws! Did you not tell them that during the timeout? Tyrus should never have been allowed to think he was the one who should have the ball in his hands at the end of the 4th with the game on the line.
Amusement: After the Bulls won, Noah was interviewed. He had played a monster game again, continuing his high-energy series that is starting to make people think that he has the potential to be a legitimate double-double guy in the League. The interviewer asked Noah something about the game, and his response was “Hi mommy! Mommy! Hi! Yeah I see you up there! Hi Mommy!!”
Irritation: I never realized this about the Celtics, but they bitch about literally every single call or non-call. Pierce is the worst of the bunch. Godforbid he misses a shot or makes a bad pass, he immediately looks to the ref and whines. Seriously? The best is when you see on the replay that there was clearly no foul. No one is disputing that Pierce is an amazing talent, but every miss is not because of a foul big guy! Sometimes you just miss the shot. Stop whining and play the damn game. Oh and one other thing. What’s with the flopping all the time? I thought this team was tough? Come on.
Pride: Derrick Rose had another monster game. When he asserts himself he is one of the best in the league. He almost got a triple-double yesterday, with 23 points, 9 assists and 11 rebounds. There were a lot of times where he was fouled on his way to the basket that the refs swallowed their whistles, but that’s just because he’s a rookie. He’ll get those calls next season. This kid is a superstar in the making and it is fun to watch. The fact that he is from Chicago and plays the kind of tough, physical, yet skilled game makes me love him even more. Whenever you find yourself frustrated or mad about the Bulls, just remember,Rose will be here long after Vinny is fired, Gordon leaves for free agency, and Paxson resigns as GM.
Euphoria: The Bulls were up 119-115 with just 25 seconds remaining and it looked like they would finally win. Salmons had just hit two big free throws to make it a 2-possession game. Ray Allen jacked up a 3 which always makes opponents nervous, but this time it clanked off the rim and it looked like the game was over. But wait! Glen “Big Bitch” Davis grabbed the offensive rebound somehow, and Pierce managed to nail a 3. The Bulls were only up one. Salmons got fouled quickly and sunk both free throws (thank god). Then on the other end, it looked like Pierce might get a decent shot off with time expiring but no. Salmons got a piece of it and the Bulls won. The series is tied at 2 and the entire United Center erupted. See you all in Boston. Sick!