Bulls Fail to Close Series; Head back to Milwaukee for Game 6

Screenshot 2015-04-30 07.18.12Well, so much for taking care of Milwaukee and resting up for what was likely going to be a weekend showdown with Cleveland to begin the NBA Playoff Semifinals. Nope, the Bulls have managed to drop two games since going up 3-0 in the series. So sorry I haven’t been around. It was NOT because these were losses. I have been working very dilligently this week getting projects done and shipped because my birthday is 5/3 and I’d like to ENJOY it for once. The Mayweather fight is this Saturday, more NBA Playoff games, yeah, I don’t want to have to write on envelopes this weekend.

What you need to know about game 4:
http://espn.go.com/nba/recap?gameId=400790946

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• 28 turnovers. Yes, 28 turnovers. The team as a whole is just playing real loose with the basketball. Some of it is Milwaukee. To their credit. They are long, they have long arms and they cause a lot of deflections. But come on now, 28? Some of these are just careless passes and charges. The Bucks got a staggering 39 points off of these turnovers. That’s the story of the game.

• Jimmy was an absolute stud in what SHOULD have been a closeout game on the road.

• Rose got beat at the buzzer by Bayless… In the oft rewound play, Rose loses sight of Jerryd Bayless and he makes a shot at the buzzer as the game was tied 90-90. Rose got a lot of grief for this play and I hate that this was such public failure for him. He’s not terrible on defense though, which is now what casual fans are trying to say. Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie blog even said that Rose’s off the ball defense has been a source of consternation for several years now. Huh? That was news to me.


What you need to know about game 5:
http://espn.go.com/nba/recap?gameId=400790948

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• Rose pretty much outplayed by MCW and Thibs outmaneuvered by Kidd. The Bulls would later echo the sentiment that Milwaukee played “harder” than they did, on both sides of the ball. Rose also only managed 2 assists in 42 minutes of action. He’s got to focus on playmaking when his shot is not falling. Noah and Butler both had 6. Pau even had 4.

• Backcourt finally went cold. Rose and Butler combined for 10-41 while Middleton and MCW went for 19-31. Yeah, it was ugly.

• Pau and Noah combined for 35 pts. Finally, they seemed to get on track with better looks at the basket and better finishes. They will need to do that again in game 6.

What’s Next?

Game 6 of course. in Milwaukee. Will the Bulls finally close this team out? They certainly have the motivation. No team has ever come back from an 0-3 hole in the NBA and CLEARLY, the Bulls do not want to be the first. Unfortunate that it has come down to this. I’ll be working, but will be following along on my app. Hoping for a miracle! #SeeRed

 

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Bulls Poised to Sweep Series After Rose Dominates in 2OT Thriller

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Image taken from Sports Illustrated

The Bulls put quite a scare into their fans with this game… In the briefest summary I can generate: Bulls were up 10 pts with 2:00 min to go, Middleton hits two 3 pointers. Bulls sent reeling… Middleton makes a runner taking MIL up a point with 10 seconds left. Rose drives, gets fouled and makes one of two at the line. Ridiculous. OT. They trade baskets. Double OT. Bulls turn Bucks over 4 times in the 2OT segment, dominate and come out on top… Whew.

The good: Bulls were able to battle back and impose their will in this game, even after a lot of things didn’t go their way. They actually NEEDED a game like this… Pippen would tweet during the game that a little adversity on the road was good for them.

The bad: Getting down by as much as 18 pts. and turning the ball over 18 times. They CANNOT continue to have these high turnover games and expect to make a deep playoff run.

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Rose was a MONSTER in this one… 34 pts, 8 asts, 5 rebs and 3 stls. After the last game where Jimmy dominated with 31 pts, I noticed that Bulls/Bucks graphics were starting to be dominated by images of Jimmy Butler as the Bulls representative. Also finding threads where fans are discussing who’s team this is now, Jimmy or Derrick’s. Make no mistake, this is STILL Rose’s team. He is the leader. My conclusions are drawn from how these guys revere him. They listen when he speaks and they look out for him.

Rose is being the best leader ON the court too from the eye test. He’s taking Snell to the side and giving him advice, he’s fiery and vocal in the pre-game huddle and during timeouts and he’s ENCOURAGING the hell out of Jimmy. You think Jimmy would feel comfortable/free doing this on another team with an oft injured former MVP? There would be drama, trust. I’m proud and happy for Rose and we need EVERYONE to get to where we are going so no need to create what I think is division. ESPECIALLY when our backcourt has been scoring more than the rest of the league in the playoffs… Gm 1: 48pts Gm 2: 46pts Gm 3: 58pts. Fans need to chill.

Games coming so quickly I wanted to get something out before today’s contest at 4:30PM CST on TNT. Bulls are NOT great early so the afternoon time does worry me somewhat. I think Chicago closes the Bucks out with a sweep though. Hoping they can get as much rest as possible with what looks like an inevitable showdown with CLE in the semifinals.

The tweets:

Rose highlights:

Last game in this series today?
We’ll see how much fight the Bucks have left after losing this heartbreaker… 4:30PM CST on TNT. I have to teach, but hopefully will be able to catch some of the game after the half. #SeeRed

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Jimmy Carries Bulls Past Bucks for 2-0 Series Lead

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Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose (1) hugs Jimmy Butler after Game 2 of the NBA basketball playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks Monday, April 20, 2015, in Chicago. The Bulls won 91-82. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

 

Screenshot 2015-04-22 01.41.22Game 2 of the Bucks/Bulls series, predictably, featured a better defensive effort from the Bucks, the Bulls FG% to come back down to earth (and then some), and an even higher assist game for Rose. It UNPREDICTABLY featured some “playoff” type scrums between Henson and Brooks, and a more impactful one between Zaza Pachulia and Nikola Mirotic. Impactful because it left Niko with an upper left quad strain that will likely sideline him for at least game 3. Thanks Zaza, really?

FT Attempts Edge: 27-17 Bulls
Rebounding Edge: 64-48 Bulls
Defensive stats: 10 blocks, 2 steals, 7 pts off (4) Bucks turnovers, Bucks 35.6% shooting
Offensive stats: +8 on threes, +1 on made FGs, Bulls 38.3% (2pt) 36.4% shooting (3pt)

Game Synopsis: Ugly, ugly contest… I predicted that the shooting % would come back down to earth, but never did I think they’d shoot so poorly overall. Difference between this game and the regular season is that the Bulls have been putting forth a much better defensive effort. A 16-11 1Q score tells you a lot. Lid over the basket. Rose started cold, but had a better 2nd half, scoring 8 of his 15 in the 3Q. Jimmy took the game over in the 4Q, scoring in a variety of ways… Drives, dunks, threes… Amazing display from him. If he hadn’t gone an uncharacteristic 8-14 from the FT line, he would have been closer to 40. He ended up with a new career playoff high of 31 pts.

Game Changer: Jimmy. The Bulls shooting guard imposed his will at the 7:00 mark of the 4th quarter… After see sawing the lead back and forth, Jimmy capitalized on the Bulls 78-74 advantage by just YAMMING on Pachulia… This was right after a Bucks timeout. Another two three pointers, along with a long 2 by Rose, would eventually ice the game.

Peak Performer(s): J. Butler CHI (31pts 9rebs 2asts 0stls 1blk) 46min. Another ridiculous outing from Butler. Rose followed with 15 pts, 9 assists and 7 rebounds. Pau and Noah both had outrageous rebounding games… 16 and 19 respectively.

Weak Performer: Again, as a team, the Bulls need to take care of the ball. 15 turnovers, with the Bucks grabbing 15 pts off those turnovers. It must stop.

Main Hashtag: #MILvsCHI

In Game Tweets

Sideline Skinny

  • This was Milwaukee’s 8th consecutive playoff loss
  • Derrick rode the stationery bike in the tunnel to stay warm
  • The TNT broadcast mic’d Jimmy who could be heard saying “…He can’t guard me, he’s too little” to coach Thibodeau.

What’s Next?
Bulls travel up I-94 to the Bradley Center on Thursday. Niko will likely be unavailable as he is getting treatment for that quad strain. Its also been confirmed that he does NOT have a concussion from that Zaza elbow to the head.

I expect the Bucks to shoot better and I also am still waiting on the Bulls to FULLY take advantage of these Pau double teams. They did a much better job in game 2, as Pau was hitting shots on the move, vs. just standing in the post and backing opponents down.

7PM CST on NBA TV and CSN…

We’ll be in game tweeting from @ChiTwnBullsBlog! Follow us for the latest!

 

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Rose Sizzles, Scores 23 points in Post Season Return

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Rose came out ready. Ready to lead his team in the huddle. Ready to drive the ball into the paint and finish. Ready to dish the ball to teammates. Ready to shut the haters and doubters up… It was a perfect scenario for him and long time fans of Derrick couldn’t be happier for the former league MVP.

My stomach was in knots as this contest began. I wanted the Bulls to come out aggressive, but they fell into an early hole and had to dig out. Didn’t take them long to gain control of this contest though and they played with an intensity worthy of a playoff series opener. The Bucks would end up with three starters in foul trouble (Giannis, Middleton and Zaza), however they fought hard.

FT Attempts Edge: 26-22 Bucks
Rebounding Edge: 52-41 Bulls
Defensive stats: 7 blocks, 8 steals, 13 pts off (13) Bucks turnovers, Bucks 39.3% shooting

Game Synopsis: The game started with Milwaukee grabbing an early lead in the 1st quarter but the Bulls quickly caught up. Their ball movement was stellar… 30 assists on 38 made field goals. Rose would come out of the game at the 6:11 mark for Tony Snell. He would later say he was just winded. He’d re-enter the game at the 8:06 mark of the 2nd quarter and that’s when he went to work. Connecting on 2 drives and a floating jump shot. Butler was also great with a mix of threes, drives and 7-8 FT attempts. Just the right amount of aggression. Pau struggled a bit under the Bucks defensive attention/schemes, but that just meant more opportunities for the guards. Brooks also had 13pts on 4-9 shooting.

Game Changer: From the 7:00 mark in the 3rd quarter to the 4:34 mark, Rose curiously, after missing his first two 3pt attempts, drained three 3 pointers. Two of them from pretty deep. The first one occurred with Milwaukee only down 7 pts. This kind of took the wind out of their sails as they would not be able to bring the deficit back to single digits after this.

Peak Performer(s): J. Butler CHI (25pts 2rebs 6asts 1stls 0blk) 35min. Very strong outing from Butler. Rose followed with 23 pts and 7 assists. Pau went for 10pts (5-17 shooting) and 13rebs… Taj had 8pts and 11rebs (SEVEN offensive). Great effort from Taj, who left with a knee issue. EVERYONE seemed to be assisting too. Each starter had at least 4. It was amazing to watch.

Weak Performer: Tough to crucify anyone after yesterday’s victory. Bulls turnovers kept this from being a blowout victory. 25 Bucks points off of 19 Bulls turnovers. Many were unforced.

Main Hashtag: #MILvsCHI

In Game Tweets

Sideline Skinny

  • This was Derrick’s first post season game in 1,085 days.
  • Derrick left the game at the :51 mark to a standing ovation.
  • Taj was spotted in the tunnel riding the stationery bike. Strained knee, however he has already said that he’ll be all good for game 2.

Video Highlights


What’s Next?
Game 2… Adjustments, adjustments, adjustments. I’m predicting that Pau will NOT go 5-17 again. The Bucks overcompensated double teaming Gasol, which is why the guards were able to go to work. Many say Rose is begging for a double team with his post game comments, however a player of his caliber is used to defenses like that and I’ve been saying for a while now that two on the ball should be EASY OFFENSE for us. Someone is open. Period. We’ll see what happens.

Game is on TNT tomorrow so we’ll get to listen to the NBAonTNT panel weigh in on Rose’s latest return. 7PM CST. Stacey will also be holding court on CSN if you’d like the local call. I’ll be in-game tweeting from @ChiTwnBullsBlog! Follow us for the latest…

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Previewing Bucks Bulls First Round Playoffs Matchup

Its here! The Bulls face the Bucks tonight at the UC. Will the team come out aggressively? Or will they plod along and allow an athletic, young Milwaukee team dictate the pace and grab an early lead? We’ll see.

I put together a cheat sheet for you guys to check out while we wait for the Bulls tonight! 6:00PM CST on ESPN. I’ll be live tweeting from @ChiTwnBullsBlog! #SeeRed!

bucksbullspreview

Thanks to David L. Johnson for contributing to this preview!

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Wrapping Up Bulls Regular Season (2014-2015)

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Well, Bulls fans, it was a long journey, but we made it to the playoffs, with the Bulls roster somewhat healthy for a change. 50-32 on the season was a real testament to the heart of this team and the belief, (even though as fans we’ve all said its been wavering) in head coach Tom Thibodeau. I plan to keep you updated on all things Bulls as we go into the first round, and start what I hope to be, a nice long playoff run.

Derrick Rose
Rose has been resilient through the last injury I updated you about. It threw Chicago into a real panic, but then it turned out to only have a 4-6 week window. He came back and played the last 5 games of the season and no exaggeration, looks better than he did to start the season. He sat out the second half of the season finale against the Hawks, but he says he just had some minor soreness in his left knee. Nothing serious.

He also reports that he is pain free. This is by far the best news inside Bulls nation… Rose is healthy, and playing in the playoffs for the first time since tearing his ACL in 2012.  So happy for him.

Bucks instead of Wizards?

There has been much discussion about desiring the 4th seed vs. the 3rd seed that the Bulls eventually settled into.

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The 2015 NBA Playoffs seeding has been settled

Quite obviously, the bracket that the Bulls fell into will have them on a likely collision course with the Lebron led Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round. Some see this as a negative. The 4th seed would have placed the Bulls where Toronto is. Facing the Wizards, and then going on to the winner of Hawks/Nets. The Wiz really seemed to stink it up to end the season, however, they finished with 2 more wins than last season (46-36). Will they be tougher in the playoffs than they were in the regular season? Who knows? I DO know that rather than attempting to exact revenge on the Wiz for unceremoniously dismissing the Bulls in 5 games last postseason, I’d rather Rose come along more slowly and gain some momentum.

Still Not 100%

Joakim Noah
Jo sat out the last couple of games of the regular season with a hamstring issue. Looks like its precautionary. Hoping Jo can give us just some of what he gave us two years ago in that 7-game Brooklyn series.

Kirk Hinrich
Obviously, he came back too early from a hyperextended knee. Kirk’s offense has fallen off, but I still think the Bulls need 10-15 minutes from him. He plays tough, can be effective defensively depending on the matchup and has decent foot speed. He also, when he is not shooting too much, can really set the table.

Taj Gibson
Left the season finale game vs. Atlanta with a shoulder strain. Probably shouldn’t have played, but he obviously hears Mirotic’s footsteps and has been playing through injury consistently this year.

I’ll be back (hopefully), with a playoff preview. In the meantime, check out the schedule. I’d love to make it to the Bradley Center for one of these (not so) road games!

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Chicago In Crisis as Rose Faces Another Setback

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I know I haven’t been around. I was going to make another writing push before the Playoffs. DEVASTATING news Bulls fans. Rose needs to have surgery… Again. Its the same medial meniscus in his right knee that was repaired last year.

Everyone is hoping for a miracle in terms of a timetable. Tons of reports swirling about on various sports outlets as well as national news, but nothing official. I’m waiting to see what Bulls official beat writers report. Will it again be repaired? I’ve heard they won’t repair it a second time. Will it be snipped like Westbrook’s was? Hopefully. If so, that will give Rose a CHANCE to return for the playoffs.

If Rose doesn’t come back this season, that lone game in 2012… Game one against Philly where he tore his ACL, will be the last time we have gotten to see Rose in the postseason. Think about that for a minute. As a part of Derrick Rose’s fanbase, I’d have to say, at least in this era of basketball, no other has suffered more. So much hope and promise in this home grown hero and yet, it doesn’t “feel” like it will ever be realized.

I’ll keep you posted as I learn more. Wishing nothing but the best for Rose and his family. This has got to be so frustrating.

–ct

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