The Bulls came into the game tonight absolutely needing victory, and they could not deliver, falling 106-98 to the Miami Heat. Down three games to the Detroit Pistons and three and a half to the Indiana Pacers, although not mathematically out of it, the elimination number is one. Tonight, we got the version of the Bulls that can’t play defense; although putting it on one man’s shoulders is rarely appropriate, it’s hard not to point directly at Pau Gasol. Normally, here would follow a string of videos demonstrating his inability to move laterally, box out, help, switch, or contest effectively, but I’ll spare it – there will be plenty of videos next year. Instead, I’ll show all the things I’m excited about.
- I never thought my first BULLet Point would ever be about Cristiano Felicio, but it is. With Taj Gibson out (ribs), Felicio was called upon to fill in once again. He has plenty to work on, but he’s a big body who has grown tremendously in a short timespan, and does a lot of little things right: screens, rebounding, effort and loose balls, and even fast breaks. He led the team with +8 in 14 minutes. Here are some of the videos I captured of his good work:
- I said I wasn’t going to pick on Pau, but I lied. Gasol had 21 points and 12 rebounds but led the team with a massive -17. Here he is struggling with communication on a switch, followed by an inability to contest a drive, and finally Bobby Portis securing an offensive rebound by securing good position, another foreign concept to Pau:
- Okay, back to the things I’m excited about… the Bulls played some Hoiball tonight on offense, converting on primary and secondary breaks through layups and threes, and taking early and open shots. Fred Hoiberg‘s after timeout plays (ATOs) were also effective, plus he utilized Derrick Rose with the second unit for a few stretches, which shook things up in a good way. Rose came out to start the second quarter, but then rested in two short spurts instead of one, still playing 17 minutes in the half. It was nice to see, but too late in the season.
- I never get tired of Rose driving. He ended with 17 points and three assists on 7/16 shooting in just under 36 minutes.
- Doug McDermott didn’t have a great night, but at least he (sort of) tackled Hassan Whiteside and was (wrongly) given a flagrant foul. This was the Bulls’ first flagrant foul of the season, coming in the 79th game. It was also Doug’s first flagrant or technical foul in the NBA, and he had no technicals in his 145 games at Creighton.
But that second angle though…
- Aaron Brooks was given the DNP tonight by Hoiberg. Honestly, if all that happened in this offseason was getting rid of Pau and Brooks, I would be happy. As for exploring the other moves available to the Bulls – that’s for another day.
- The Heat won their 46th game of the season, moving them into a tie with the Celtics for 4th. Dwayne Wade notched 21 points, along with six other Heat players in double figures, including all five starters, as the Heat shot 47.8% from the field.
- Coming up: The Bulls take on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in what is likely to be a meaningless game.