After last night’s 101-99 overtime loss to the Washington Wizards, the Chicago Bulls are down 0-2 in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. They now face an uphill battle to try to advance, having to go to Washington.
For the second straight game, the Bulls gave away a big lead. After being up by 13 in the third quarter in Game 1, they ended up losing by nine. This time around, they had a 10-point lead in the 4th quarter that was squandered.
What has been evident in this series so far is that the Bulls are in dire need of a closeout scorer. The offense got stagnant late in the game and the players on the court looked tight towards the end.
The Bulls battled back from a 17-point 1st quarter deficit to get the 10-point advantage, but the missed shots piled up in the 4th, and Bulls’ players looked hesitant to take shots.
Hinrich has also been playing upset for some reason. He has picked up technical fouls in both games thus far. In Game 1 he continually barked at the officials about being fouled until he got the technical. In Game 2, he got into it with Bradley Beal, and the officials assessed a double technical. I don’t know if something has happened off the court, but he has not been his cool self in this series.
This is not a new problem for the Bulls. In 2010, the Bulls had a few leads that they blew late in games in the Eastern Conference Finals against the eventual champions Miami Heat. Back then they had the league’s MVP, Derrick Rose, but he had carried the team so much he was exhausted late in those games. Today, there isn’t even a Derrick Rose on the court to help.
This series underscores the need for the Bulls to have a shooter they can depend on late in games to give them options. Even if a healthy Rose comes back to form next season, if there is no one else there, it could be more of the same.
Carmelo Anthony is expected to opt out of his contract in New York. The Bulls are expected to try to sign him. They should put out all the stops to try to get him. Show him the six rings, have him and Thibodeau and Rose talk over dinner, rename the United Center, whatever it takes.
This is a team that with its defense is close to being a dominant force in the NBA. They can only hold their opponents for so long before the offense has to step up to help. This offense, ranking last in scoring this season, just cannot provide the help needed.
With the offseason appearing to be coming earlier than expected, the Bulls have to do what it takes to develop a scoring punch. The defense needs it. The fans of Chicago need it.