Drink: Shieldaig Speyside Scotch 12 Year
The Bulls handed over this victory nestled in their mittens, and you cannot blame them for losing it. Omer Asik was on the line, up by one, with two free throws, having gone 4-5 from the line at this point (!), and only seven ticks were remaining on the clock. He missed both. You can hardly blame him. Andre Iguodala went to the other end off the rebound, got fouled (by the very Mr. Asik who missed two), and converted both his attempts – the second of which was the series winner. It was beautiful and fitting for a player who played some great ball in this series. After the utter disastrous sequence that came before this, I was actually content on watching Iggy make his buckets and advance. Before any of the aforementioned action happened, CJ Watson successfully dribbled a ball down-court, avoiding fouls with a one-point lead, and with that lead, he passed it to a 45% free-throw shooter because he was perched at a high percentage position at the rim. The better play was to keep it in his 80% FT hands and take it to the corner – most likely getting hacked with five seconds or so. But Watson is a back-up point guard (a damn good one), forced into a starter’s role (for the Bulls, and NBA, are lacking a reigning MVP), saw a teammate in for the kill taker, and passed the ball. It was so tragically human. And I love him for that. Had the Bulls had a chance to win the title, my words and thoughts would have a different tone right now. With circumstances as they are/were, all is/was fine. (For the record, I yelled and drank myself stupid throughout the 48 minutes.)
When Derrick Rose’s misfortune broke our soul (none anything close than his) at the end of Game One, thoughts of the title were all but gone. I still held out hope. I thought that with the team mentality and the rest of the squad relatively healthy (loose Deng tendons aside), that they stood a fair chance at putting up a bid for making the Eastern Conference Finals, and then… well… with a bunch ‘o luck, and maybe a Heat injury, the Bulls could stand a chance against the mugging posers at the peehole of America’s phallic state.
Then Joakim Noah rocked his ankle perpendicular in Game Three. Sure, he suited up for tonight’s game, but the severity at which he turned his ankle and the hobbling he did post-perpendicular, made an effective comeback in the next week or so less than promising.
So here were the Bulls on a Thursday night in Philly in a must-win game. They dug themselves back from a double-digit hole in the third, to take a lead in the fourth. They looked almost certain to be going back to the UC with less than a minute in the game. And then they made very human mistakes by players who should have not been placed in such situations. Watson considering a pass to Asik, instead of Rose considering a pass to Noah. It was a play that determined the game and it played out second-fiddle to what it should have – just like the players on the squad.
You cannot blame Omer or CJ, neither of them should have been there – let alone both. The Bulls threw down an inspiring performance to come within a turtle’s dick of stealing one in Philly and forcing a Game Seven. Yet, a lack of starters (Boozer was sitting on the bench – a sympathy injury for Rose and Noah?) proved to not be enough to close it out. If you blame anything, blame circumstance.
I leave you all with the best photo of the night and my favorite Bull to still be able to play in the post season. Taj came back from a nasty ankle turn and turned in a worthy performance. Cheers, Trojan!