Drink: Toasted Head Untamed Red
The eighth game (Fraud!) of the nine games of Hell went down tonight against the Charlotte Bobbycats, a team with a 2-0 record versus the Bulls going into this one. So was Charlotte’s record against the Bulls fraudulent or do the Bobbycats have the Bulls’ number?
Carlos Boozer started hot in this one. The Beard put down the Bulls first four points while rebounding and assisting to boot. The Bulls looked like the superior team early on, largely through their ability to move the ball around and rebound. Their defense was aggressive, but by forcing the issue, Charlotte was able to get the ball to the open man (and, often, he was very open). The Bulls ended the quarter up by six.
The second opened with Unit: DJ TrainWreck playing good ball and opening the lead to double digits. Then a problem that is becoming prevalent as of late reared its head. The trouble was that as the starters started filling back onto the court, the Bulls looked disjointed and, as such, lost the lead. This has been the case in many games. UDJTW will look great to begin the quarter and then all rhythm is lost as the starters, initiated by Boozer, start playing with some of the reserves. Regardless, the Bulls went up by seven at the half (as the primary line-up was active) and coasted throughout the second half (sorry for the anticlimax) to pull out a comfortable win. But, in the words of the Joker, “I’ve got bigger fish to fry.”
Carlos Boozer: Fraud?
Before I get started, I will go ahead and admit that Boozer is averaging damn-near 20 points and 10 rebounds. Twenty and ten (as they call it in the biz) is the benchmark for a solid “big man.” In tonight’s contest, Boozer started with the aforementioned points and great effort, but his game quickly headed the way of the dodo. This has become a common occurrence during Bulls games (largely because Carlos Boozer plays for the Bulls), flashes of brilliance and large vanishing acts. The Beard ended up with 16 points and 9 rebounds tonight, most of which came during a second half that the Bulls had little trouble dealing and putting away.
If you are unfamiliar with the history of the summer of 2010, Chicago signed Boozer to fix their down-low game and provide the Bulls with a steady dose of offense. Since becoming healthy from his off-season bouts with luggage, he has put up some decent numbers and has looked sensational… at times. Too often Boozer disappears from games on the offensive side. When this happens, the Beard is too much of a defensive liability to remain on the court. Ergo, Thibs subs our “marquee” signing for Taj Gibson, for the latter’s defensive prowess. In fact, it has become common place for Taj to be in close games down the stretch because, get this, defense wins games.
Do I think Boozer was a good signing? Eh, sure, but not for the money. The bigger problem is in the position itself. The power forward position in the NBA has lost all of its power. Take the three top power forward free agents last summer: Chris Bosh, A’mare Stoudamire, and Carlos Boozer. All three would rather settle for a jumper and none of them is too keen to play D. Basically, the power forward position has transformed into a small forward’s game with a bigger body.
The reason I am not too sour on the signing of the Boozer is two fold. First, Boozer is highly entertaining. From his “Goddamn” yellings that are clearly audible a half dozen times a game on national TV, to his sense of humor that looks to be contagious in the locker room, Boozer is a cool dude. Second, when/if Joakim Noah comes back to full strength, Boozer becomes much less of a liability. Noah provides that strong defensive presence in the lane, without Danny Glover’s cement feet. Also, as I have stressed before, Noah is a much better offensive threat than people think.
So, is Boozer a fraud? I would have to lean towards yes. However, without the signing of Boozer, would I actually think that the Bulls have a better shot at the crown? No. Because the Bulls have such a dynamic look at the power forward position with Taj’s defense on the roster, Boozer is definitely a huge upgrade. Thibs has the ability to rotate the two forwards. With a healthy Noah, Thibs can play with what match-up he sees fit.
Bottom line, Boozer is not a fraud. He simply is not the Pops Mensah-Bonsu they thought they were getting. The summer of 2010 saw the Bulls needing a key piece to add in order to contend for the tops in the league. Anything short of LeBron or Roy Batty was second fiddle in this race. They got Boozer. It was as good as any other over-priced option out there and I think it is enough to go the extra mile.
“If only you could see what I have seen with your eyes.” – Roy Batty