How Far Can Noah Take Bulls in the Postseason?

Noah posting Rockets forward Terrence Jones

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
Through 64 gms, Jo is averaging 12.4 ppg | 1.5 bpg | 5 apg | 11.3 rpg | 1.1 spg

I HATE that my wedding biz got so busy this year. So many good things happening for the Bulls and I’d love to be able to analyze it more closely. I did decide to take time out to salute the big homie Joakim Noah however. He has not only emerged as the Bulls vocal leader and 2-time All Star, but also a legitimate MVP candidate, (arguably) best center in the league and in the DPOY conversation… No one saw this coming.

After Derrick’s second season ending injury, 10 games into the season, Bulls fans were looking for something to get excited about. A few things happened:

1. First, we were excited about the the D.J. Augustin signing after seeing his superior pick and roll play ability. His speed and quickness helped Chicago play faster, and his quick passes after penetrating the post opened up much easier baskets for the Bulls big men.

2. Next, we were dealt a huge blow with the departure of Luol Deng to Cleveland… Completely financial move that you kind of saw coming. Just sad because many fans, myself included, considered Rose, Noah and Deng to be “untouchable” Bulls. But, its a business and the move will certainly help offset some of the luxury tax penalty, which I still believe they are up against.

Note: After this trade, the calls for TANKING the season for Wiggins, Jabari Parker or some other top 4-5 pick in this year’s draft became louder and louder. I even became convinced that this would be the best course of action. Not because I’m so excited about getting what looks to be a superior talent in the draft, but did we really want to see another meaningless post season for our Bulls? I mean, from a “wear and tear” standpoint? I dunno. I just wanted everything to remain frozen competition-wise til’ Rose could come back healthy.  The chants got so loud that they made it to the Bulls/Jo.

3. Then, something else happened. Joakim Noah decided that he’d go ahead and take the Bulls over. It kind of began when he made some controversial comments (for the Bulls anyway), on 12/14. The Bulls were in the middle of a nasty losing skid and Noah issued a personal challenge to the team:


“…You know what? I don’t want no part of this… I’m just going to take bad shots and just not care at all about making winning plays or playing defense and things like that. So everybody has to stick together. Everybody has to jell and keep fighting together.”


You actually got the feeling that the team was going to fall apart after this, but it didn’t. They went 3-5 to close out 2013, managed a downright blistering 11-4 in Jan 2014, and have been 17-7 since the start of Feb.

Jo was selected to the All Star team, which should have surprised no one, but his numbers slowly started to become MVPish. His work has been so consistent this season, so timely, so effective that you can’t help but put him in that conversation. He’s passing the ball as well as he’s rebounding it and he is also making timely buckets. The Bulls feed off of Noah’s energy, period. His finesse at his position, coupled with sheer effort arguably makes him the best center in the league. For those who flat out reject that notion, I’d say the same thing that one of my Twitter friends expressed recently, “…Dwight can’t shine Noah’s shoes.”

Saying all this though, what’s really going to happen in the postseason? Bulls fans know that most of our recent postseason roads have ended with a fall to Miami (in five). I have no doubt that we can power through to the second round, but what about the second round? Do we have enough talent? I’d like to retain our current spot of 4th because we could topple the Pacers in 7 and get back to the ECF. What happens when we get there could be heartbreaking though. A spirited, emotional win in the first game, only to be swept in the next 4? I mean, anything can happen, and I DO think that the Bulls commitment to defense is stronger than both the Pacer’s and the Heat (we have no choice, no offense or superstar play to fall back on), but you have to put the ball in the basket at some point. With no home court to speak of, they would darn near need to be perfect in every game, on every single possession. Tough task indeed.

Screenshot 2014-03-16 22.31.22

…If the NBA Playoffs began today

Maybe though falling to the Heat in 5 won’t happen three times in a row. Perhaps we could be more competitive. Who knows? I do know that Joakim has made this discussion possible, and the postseason more intriguing. Thanks Jo… You’ve certainly made the city proud. #SeeRed #BullsNation

Posted in Press and Analysis, Regular Season 2013-14 | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Wizards Drop Bulls; Philly Next

Gotta switch to quick recaps if I have any chance of remaining relevant as we approach the All Star game… Sorry guys, I really enjoyed breaking down the games, but competing priorities have finally taken their toll.

Bulls lost a tight one last night. What did we learn? That Jimmy Butler shouldn’t be taking the last shot? That DJ Augustin is underutilized even though he’s pretty effective shooting the ball? Or that the Washington Wizards, (one night after bulldozing the Miami Heat) are a .500 ball club and the Bulls are not? Just some things to think about.

The Bulls look to continue to clear cap space according to Woj of Yahoo.com…  Looks like Teague will be headed to Brooklyn in exchange for Toko Shengelia.  It appears that he has been spending much of his time in the D-League as well. Teague’s contract was guaranteed so it appears that this Nets project can be dumped at the end of the season.

Screenshot 2014-01-18 17.45.24

I wasn’t around to react to the Lu salary dump but I’m really sad. Part of me understands that a move had to be made to offer the organization some flexibility in the future, but another part of me just wanted to see Rose, Deng and Noah win a ring together. So much of what those players are about and what they represent just screams CHICAGO. Will always have love for the Bulls and these three players in particular. Good Luck Lu. Give ‘em hell in Cleveland.

Screenshot 2014-01-18 17.46.15

I’ll do a better recap of the Philly contest, just want to wave to everyone and let you know that I’m still here, I’m still riding with the squad and will be giving you whatever I can.

#PHIvsCHI #BullsNation

–ct

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Bulls Drop Three Straight; Bucks Next

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Bulls are a mind-numbing 2-9 in their last 11 games.

So this is by far the WORST stretch for the Bulls in the Thibodeau era. Funny. Everyone was willing the Bulls to tank the season to go for a lottery ball… The way the injuries have been going (what else is new?) they may not have a choice in the matter. They just don’t have the horses to exert the required effort for 48 minutes.

Injury Report

Deng out: Strained left Achilles/Calf
Butler out: Turf Toe

Joakim missed the Bucks game at the UC with a thigh bruise tweaked at shootaround. Returned to play at MSG in the NYK loss.

Tonight, the Bulls find themselves in Milwaukee to face the Bucks. D.J. Augustin will be in uniform for the game as the Bulls picked him up off waivers just a couple of days ago. He’s not a horrible decision maker and is quick. A scorer and facilitator that the Bulls desperately need. It will take him time to learn the plays, but a fresh body is always nice to have around. Lets hope he earns Tom’s trust since we know its only a matter of time before Hinrich has an ailment or two.

I’ll be around for the Bucks game and I PROMISE I haven’t abandoned the blog because of the losses. Its just engagement season and I need to have everything in place for my business this month and next month!

Go Bulls! #SeeRed –ct

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Bulls End Slide By Dominating Heat Inside; Pistons Next

bullsheat

Screen Shot 2013-12-07 at 2.07.06 AMYeah! Always nice to beat the Heat… With Derrick exiting the stage yet again with injury and the Bulls going 1-5 on their circus road trip and following that up by losing two winnable games in the closing moments, many fans, myself included wondered what the heck would happen when the Heat came to town.

I wasn’t altogether sure that this group would find the motivation to compete against the Heat (not at a high level anyway), just based on a recent eye test. I should have known better. The Chicago Bulls came out and just exposed Miami on the interior. To be fair, Miami was without Wade and Birdman. As a result, their perimeter defense and rebounding were vulnerable and Chicago smelled blood in the water. Very comforting to see Bulls bounce back, focus and dominate a team like this.

Game Synopsis:
Bulls benefitted from whistles they would have never gotten in Miami… (24 vs. 32 FT attempts) Bulls also controlled, dominated and relentlessly went into the paint. Miami missed shots that they usually make (coupled with only 6 off rebs) and the Bulls defense kept them a little uncomfortable. They also failed in the effort and energy categories from the very start, although James began the contest with a couple of aggressive drives and finishes at the rim.

Game Changer:
Miami was able to trim the lead down to 12 pts. at the 5 min mark of the 4th quarter but the Bulls went on a 14-6 run to close the game, including 2 threes by Luol.

Stat of the Night:
Bulls out rebounded the Heat 49-27

Peak Performer(s):
C. Boozer CHI (27pts 9rebs 1asts 0stls 0blk) 33min**
L. Deng CHI (20pts 5rebs 5asts 0stls 1blk) 42min
T. Gibson CHI (19pts 6rebs 0asts 1stls 1blk) 24min
J. Noah CHI (17pts 15rebs 3asts 1stl 0blk) 33min
**Team high pts.

Weak Performer(s):
C. Bosh MIA (10pts 2rebs 1asts 0stl 2blk) 27min

Rookie Watch:
Snell continued his strong play in his fifth start … 8 pts on 3-7 shooting (2-4 from three). Kept a nice, long body on James at times and also managed 2 asts and 3 rebs.

Main Hashtag:
#MIAvsCHI

In Game Tweets:

Sideline Skinny:

  • Teague who had been sent down to the Iowa Energy DLeague affiliate of the Bulls had to turn around and come back because of a Mike James right knee sprain… He was 0-3, but had 3 assists and looked a little bit more comfortable.
  • The Bulls continue to be the most successful NBA team against the Miami Heat in the regular season: 8-5 overall record.
  • Wade missed the game due to flu-like symptoms and Birdman also missed the trip due to personal reasons.

What’s Next?

Detroit at the UC tonight… WGN at 7:00 CST.

Screen Shot 2013-12-07 at 2.04.04 AMA fellow “Heat” slayer enters the UC tonight. Detroit laid the wood on Miami, in Miami right before Chicago did and they are on a three game winning streak. They also want to attack inside with their bigs (Drummond, Monroe and Smith). Jennings, Stuckey, Bynum and Jerebko can also all score in bunches. Bulls will have to play hard, shore up their perimeter defense and patrol the paint to make sure there is no let down after what must have been an emotional win. Go Bulls! –ct

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Rose Breaks Silence; Addresses Media About Injury

Derrick’s first presser following the Bulls shoot around yesterday…

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Bulls Fall to Pels in 3OT; Heat Next

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Well that was a wild night… I said in my recap of the Cavs loss that the Bulls would have to shore up what was sure to be a perimeter onslaught by the Pelicans. Well Ryan Anderson (who used to get off against the Bulls back in his Orlando days for those that don’t remember) went 7-11 from 3 and ended up with 36 pts. Just a tough cover shooting from the outside like that from that position. Taj, Booz and Noah’s instincts are always going to draw them in the paint not the three pt. line.

Game Synopsis:
Bulls ended up shooting a higher % than the Pels. You could tell early on though that the Bulls were probably going to fall because 1.) It was a track meet. Pels wanted to run early and often and they have younger legs. 2.) They couldn’t stop NOP from scoring the basketball. I mean it was unreal how successful and comfortable they were offensively. That, coupled without having our closer will typically equal an “L”. Deng, Dunleavy and Noah were huge in terms of making big plays to extend the game. Taj was just dominant overall. In the end though, its a make or miss league and NOP just didn’t seem to miss much.

Game Changer:
Ryan Anderson was unstoppable. I knew that he would be a problem because he’s a 4 taking shots from the outside, but I didn’t predict he’d have an MVP type game against us. 7-11 on three’s alone? That’s just crazy. To be fair though, Tyreke, Gordon, Aminu and Jrue can all create off the dribble and hit outside jumpers so tough to help off defensively when playing this team. Jrue Holliday completed a driving layup 3pt. play to seal the win in 3OT.

Peak Performer(s):
R. Anderson NOP (36pts 6rebs 0asts 0stls 1blk) 57min
L. Deng CHI (37pts 8rebs 7asts 0stls 0blk) 55min
T. Gibson CHI (26pts 14rebs 0asts 0stls 5blk) 44min**
**Career high pts.

Weak Performer(s):
No standouts here

Main Hashtag:
#NOPvsCHI

Sideline Skinny:

  • This was the second consecutive game that veteran Mike James got the call over Teague. He looks to officially be out of the rotation, yikes.
  • This loss is the first for the Bulls at home.

What’s Next?

Miami on Thursday… TNT at 8:30 CST.

Can’t think of a worse time for the Miami Heat to be sauntering into the United Center. They are on a 10 game winning streak, LBJ is shooting north of 60% from the field and their team is poised to take over the top spot in the East after the Pacers take a few more “Ls” on their current road trip. Sigh. Such a bleak outlook for Chicago that I don’t quite know where they muster up the motivation to compete as fiercely as they usually do against this group. We’ll see what happens. Glad they have two days between games so they can recover from playing extended minutes. Go Bulls. –ct

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Bynum Dominates as Cavs Squeak By Bulls; Pels Next

cavsbulls

© Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 11.31.27 PMThe Bulls lost a winnable game last night for a few reasons from my view:

  • Bynum indicated that he had a pulse and netted 20/10.
  • Dunleavy went 1-6 (0-3 from behind the line) for 2 points. Such a close game, you think if he’d had even an average game/normal bench production and we win.
  • Another anemic shooting outing for the Bulls in the 3Q. Alonzo Gee and C.J. Miles were hot from the perimeter and got 9 pts. quickly hitting 3 threes between them.

Game Synopsis:
Cavs got a lot of friendly whistles in the first half and they outworked the Bulls on the boards. Bynum asserted himself on the block and got the Cavs extra possessions.

Game Changer:
Rookie Tony Snell was key scoring 7 pts. during an 18-5 run the Bulls made in the 4Q to get back in the game and briefly take the lead 88-87.

Peak Performer(s):
L. Deng CHI (27pts 4rebs 11asts 0stls 0blk) 39min
T. Gibson CHI (18pts 4rebs 2asts 0stls 1blk) 24min
T. Snell CHI (18pts 4rebs 2asts 0stls 1blk) 35min

Weak Performer(s):
M. Dunleavy CHI (2pts 1rebs 3asts 1stls 0blk) 22min

Main Hashtag:
#CHIvsCLE

Sideline Skinny:

  • Gar Forman was in Cleveland catching the game (and maybe scouting Dion Waiters I joked yesterday). Dan Roan interviewed him at the half
  • Thibs would get a technical foul in the 2Q complaining about the friendly whistle I mentioned that was afforded to the Cavs.
  • This loss concludes the Bulls circus road trip and they end 1-5 with their sole win coming vs. Detroit.

What’s Next?

Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 8.14.08 PM

This will be the Bulls first time seeing the “new look” Pels of Nawlins’. Some Jrue Holliday, a lot of Eric Gordon, sprinkled with some Ryan Anderson and a little bit of Tyreke Evans. Sigh. Bulls perimeter defense needs to be on point to survive this outside attack. We’ll have more space to defend at the rim with Davis fracturing his hand tonight in a win over New York Knicks… Go Bulls. We’ll be in game tweeting from @ChiTwnBullsBlog… Follow us for the latest. Main hashtag: #NOvsCHI

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