With All the Chicago Bulls Injuries, Where’s Jimmy Butler, Where’s the Defense?

Where’s the beef? The Chicago Bulls are a team that in the past have prided themselves on defense but in the last two games of the playoffs they’ve been liquified by the 76ers and their meaty defense has been nothing but sloppy joe style garbage.

The Bulls have depth, they are just failing to either use it or utilize it properly. (Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE)

And anyone wanting to defend the defense can be easily referred to the third quarter of Game 3 and the fourth quarter of Game 4. If you want to pat someone on the back, go to a school play. If you want to win a championship in the NBA play defense. It’s something the Chicago Bulls know how to do but for some reason are failing horribly at. The question is: why?

Early in the third quarter of Game 3 Friday night, Joakim Noah came down and rolled his ankle bad. He gingerly limped to the sideline and although he returned, he exited the game shortly thereafter and didn’t return.

This comes just a game removed from the most devastating injury in Chicago Bulls history when Derrick Rose tore his ACL, ripped five good years out of his career and dashed the high playoff hopes the Bulls had. But now we have a lot of questions that need answers and chief among them is what’s wrong with the rotations?

Derrick Rose’s injury was a freak accident but it raised the question of minute distribution and it’s not the first time we’ve had this debate. Just ask Luol Deng how much Tom Thibodeau likes to sit him. The answer is never.

I couldn’t blame Thibodeau for Rose’s ACL, I would have kept him in to shake off the rust and so would everyone who’s not lying about it. No one could have foreseen an ACL tear. Maybe if this had been an aggravation of previous injury I would have been mad but Thibodeau isn’t Tonya Harding and he didn’t beat Derrick Rose’s knee to a pulp.

I’m half and half, however, on Joakim Noah’s injury but I’m not positive where I want to place the blame. Is it on Thibodeau for playing him? It can’t be because you’re not going to sit your biggest and brightest defensive player. Is it on Noah for not passing to a wide open Luol Deng? Perhaps but he may still have rolled his ankle on Andre Iguodala’s foot.

Or is it a rotational thing? A cognitive memory disorder that is crippling the Bulls confidence. In Game 2 they were forced into an offensive situation after getting blitzed in the third quarter. Perhaps they felt they need to turn on the offensive boosters to gain an insurmountable lead.

There are scores on this team, but it's a defensive team and asking your marginal scorers to do the work isn't going to win you games. (Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE)

But you can’t do that with this team without Derrick Rose. But that’s not a death nil. This is a stout defensive team, filled with defensive players that can score enough points to win that is tricking itself into thinking it has to score 100 points a game to win.

You don’t have to win pretty in the playoffs, especially not when you’re missing your best and main offensive weapon. Remember when the Bulls beat the Magic and only held Orlando to 59 points?

If the Bulls win the NBA Championship is it really going to matter if they won game by double digit margins or if they won game without eclipsing 70 points? Isn’t a win a win?

Something needs to be done with the rotations. This is a team with very little offensive fire power but if allocated correctly in rotations it can be an unstoppable force. How do you win games — by scoring more points then the other team. How to you not allow the other team to score more points then you — it’s not by out scoring them its by holding them down defensively.

Chicago is full of bigs that if complimented by scorers can win games.

Here’s what you do: start the normal starters, play until halftime and get the lead. Out of the gate at halftime play to your strength: defense. Put in Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, Carloss Boozer, Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer and play them defensively. If you ask Omer Asik or Ronnie Brewer to offensively lead the team that’s not going to work.

As Omer Asik and Ronnie Brewer to stop the other team from scoring and now you’ve got something.

Jimmy Butler was drafted to defensively stop shooting guards with his size. Butler doubles as a small forward and a guard but at 6-foot-7 he can be a nasty force covering Jrue Holiday or whoever Philly wants to put there.

Then in situations where you head into the fourth quarter and the game is tight, you don’t have to compensate for Evan Turner going off or Shawn Hawes making you look foolish. The bigs need to be utilized.

This is a team that in addition to priding itself on defense (supposedly) it has had a great history with depth. When you’re missing your superstar point guard and your ace offensive rebounding and defensive captain leaves the game you should not have and DNP’s on the scorecard at the end of the night.

I will defend Tom Thibodeau until the day I die or he gives me a good reason not to. Sitting Ronnie Brewer, the 6-foot-7 shooting guard you actually do use when he can be out there playing defense (what he does best), then I consider that to be dangerously close to a good reason not to defense Thibodeau on this one.

Play defense. It’s as simple as that.

Tom Thibodeau? Defensive minded genius. What does he have at his disposal? A gigantic team that knows how to play his schemes and knows how to play defense.

If this is still Rose thing they need to get over it or I take back everything I said when I defended them as a team rather then Derrick Rose cult followers. Yes it’s morally devastating to lose your pulse but if this is actually a well rounded team like they claim to be then they’ll dig past their hurt feelings and try to win.

Maybe the season did end when Rose’s did. Maybe this isn’t the team we all thought it was. We have two more games to find out if Chicago wants to go back to it’s roots and play defense or if they’ll psyche themselves out and exit earlier then anyone could have anticipated from the 2012 playoffs.

But when the morale is low after the kind of unforeseen injury the Rose suffered and it’s combined with awful rotations, that’s a recipe for a first round upset. Tom Thibodeau needs to stop listening to me and stop listening to the Chicago Tribune and ESPN and Twitter and coach like he knows how to: defensively.

First it was Thibodeau needs to stop playing starters so much. Now it’s why isn’t Thibodeau playing player A or player B. And it’s a legitimate question. Ronnie Brewer’s healthy scratch from Game 3 is a real head scratcher. Defense win championships and the Bulls have the perfect mold for that.

So use it.

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