With 4:48 left in last night’s game, the Bulls were coming out of a timeout down by nine. A hodgepodge crew of CJ Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Taj Gibson, and Omer Asik, fought back from a blowout and had the Bulls within a reasonable deficit with plenty of time. TNT came back from commercial, showing the Bulls bench. It was hard not to notice Noah out of his warmups and in the huddle. It is the type of moment where you lean forward, with your back off the couch, having endured second and third quarters of misery. The Bulls reserves got them back, and now it was time for the likes of Deng, Noah, and Rose to come back off the bench, rested and ready to put away a Knicks team that all of a sudden looked tired. It should have been a point where the leaders took the floor and the crowd went nuts, feeling that the comeback was destined to happen.
Instead, that same hodgepodge crew came back out of the timeout. As you sat back into the couch, you could hear the UC utter a sound that can best be described as confusion. The Bulls were able to keep up that nine point deficit for a while longer, amidst loud chants of “WE WANT ROSE!” echoing in the UC. The chants fell on deaf ears, as the “defensive genius” (side note: NY scored 70 in the first half) left in the reserves. TNT frequently showed Noah and Rose, on the bench, out of their warmups, opting to wear disillusioned faces. The Bulls never had the final punch and lost, 120-112.
Why would a coach make such a decision? Possibly it was due to teaching the starters a lesson. The Bulls starters did not look sharp defensively, and, as punishment they sat. Or possibly it was to rest up those players for the Bulls first back-to-back of the schedule, when they take on the Celtics tonight. The Celtics… hm… that rings a bell. Oh shit, that’s right, it is the team coach Tom Thibodeau spent the last three season as an assistant coach. Is it possible that Thibs wanted to make sure he did not tire out his stars in order to have a better showing when returning to Boston?
Granted, the starter’s defense looked like poo at times. Yet, with 4:48 left in the game, NY looked tired, primed to let Rose to tear through the lane and put them to sleep. It was a very winnable game against a team that, frankly, is not very talented. Alternatively, the Bulls must now head to Boston, seeking a win versus a Celtics team in a back-to-back situation (a scenario that is never easy, especially on the road and against a contender). To me, and I am not alone, the right play was to take on the lesser team in a more winnable game.
Additionally, part of the reason for the initial huge deficit was Thibs’ decision to start the second with the head-scratching lineup of Watson, Johnson, Deng, Scalabrine, and Asik. Through four games, Thibs has kept his fetish of launching the second quarter with a lineup of one starter accompanied with four reserves. He is so into this fetish that this unit (or some semblance there of) normally gets quite a chunk of minutes. Oddly enough, this group usually struggles.
With the frustration that was born out of last night’s coaching futility, NB created its Middle Finger to Thumbs Up Scale, and promptly awarded Tom Thibodeau the severe ranking of three middle fingers.
Ultimately, let this not get us down, fellow Bulls fan. The Bulls have a great challenge ahead of them tonight and on the plus side, their starters should not be all that tired. If nothing else, it will be fun to see how many minutes the starters get in Thibs’ homecoming.
Tonight’s Game: Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics, 7PM CST, ESPN, Line: Bulls +8