Well Pippen Peoples as you know the season ended for the Chicago Bulls last week losing 75-69 in Game five of the first round matchup of the Eastern Conference playoffs to the Washington Wizards. Before the series started, Pippen Ain’t Easy went over all of the matchups from the centers to the backcourt to the forwards. Now that the series is over, we will compare data to see what happened in the series. In honor of the Floyd “Money” Mayweather fight on Saturday, we have been using the boxing analogy to analyze this series.
The first round of the analysis covered Marcin Gortat and Joakim Noah. Round one went to Marcin Gortat and the Wizards. We then covered the backcourt of each team with Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler of the Bulls and Bradley Beal and John Wall of the Wizards. Again that round went to the Wizards. Now we will go over the guys on the bench. I think the story here started back at the trading deadline when the Bulls stood pat and did not make any moves and the Wizards made a move that brought Andre Miller in from Denver. I wrote a column back in February on how the competitors, Brooklyn Nets who was battling for playoff position and Washington had made significant moves to improve their benches while the Bulls did not. I thought that it might catch up with the Bulls at some point. Well Pippen Peoples it did.
The Washington Wizards bench:
The Washington Wizards did a masterful job of building their bench for the playoffs. I think it all came together when the Wizards brought in Andre Miller. Throughout his career, Andre Miller was known as the ultimate professional. That’s why it was a shock that he and Denver Nuggets Head Coach Brian Shaw got into it earlier this season. When the trade went through, I knew the Bulls had better be concerned. You see Andre Miller knows how to play basketball and understands the game. When the playoffs come, the game slows down and you have to be able to execute the half court offense. Miller showed that big time in Game one. When John Wall did not play well and was struggling, Andre came in and made a huge impact scoring eight of his ten in the final quarter to help the Wizards down the stretch. Then for the rest of the series, he played quality spot minutes spelling Beal and Wall. But it’s bigger than that. From the day Miller set foot in Washington, he was a positive influence for the young guards. This was probably evident in this series. John Wall could have easily copped an attitude sitting the bench in crunch time in the fourth quarter in Game one. That was never the case. For years, John Wall had one gear…FAST! That is no longer the case and playing with Andre Miller who has five or six gears that he has learned over the years has a lot to do with that.
After bringing in Miller, the Wizards went out and got Drew Gooden and gave him a couple of ten-day contracts. Gooden played so well that he parlayed it into a contract for the rest of the season. Gooden played very well off the bench in the absence of Nene. He along with Trevor Booker who started for Nene spent this time getting valuable playing time and giving Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman options for the playoffs. These guys gave the Wizards valuable frontcourt minutes for the Wizards when Nene got suspended for Game four. The time that Nene was out turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it forced the Wizards to go deeper into their bench and develop a rotation. It turned out to be a major impact in the playoffs. The Wizards bench played important minutes throughout the series and they kept the starters a lot fresher than the Bulls who had nothing left at the end.
The Chicago Bulls bench:
If this wasn’t a comparison article, would be breaking a FanSided rule for the amount of words in an article. There’s really nothing to talk about. Tom Thibodeau really didn’t use his bench at all during the series. That being said he didn’t use it well. Let’s break it down. Pay attention, this is going to go kinda fast.
I think everyone knows that he is kind of the sixth starter. Augustin is counted on heavily for scoring off the bench. Unfortunately for the Bulls, the Wizards put him at the top of their priority list. The Wizards had a plan to stop him and for the possible exception of three and a half quarters of Game two when he was killing the Wizards for 25 points, they executed the plan quite well. The Wizards exposed Augustin’s weaknesses over the series and exploited them. D.J. struggles to score against long athletic players. The players he went up against John Wall, Bradley Beal and especially Trevor Ariza fit that description. In Game two, Ariza was assigned to guard Augustin to cool him down. He didn’t just cool him down, he threw him in Lake Michigan in the middle of the Polar Vortex. Augustin lost his rhythm and never recovered.
He played the best by far out of the bench players. He should have played more but the little league rotations that Tom Thibodeau used in the series blocking time for Carlos Boozer and Gibson hurt both players, but especially Gibson. I’m a strong believer that if someone is playing well, you have to keep riding the hot streak. In Game four, Gibson cemented his starting spot next season going for 32 points, a career high on an obscene 13-16 from the floor. Let’s be clear, Taj Gibson was the only one that played well. If he didn’t explode the Bulls would have been beat by 40 points that day. When he turned his ankle and got carried off in the final game of the series, any chance of winning was carried off with him.
Why? That is the only question linked to Snell…Why? Tony Snell had no business playing in this series. He was in over his head. Look when he fouled John Wall 60 feet from the basket and gave up three free throws. That should tell you something.
He tried to guard Nene in Game one. In two minutes Nazr had three fouls. In Game two, he missed a shot. In total for the series if he scored a point it would have been his first.
Mike James, Lou Amundson, Ronnie Brewer, Jimmer Fredette aka “The Chairmen of the Bench”
Let me put it this way…
‘Oh we are the Chairmen’
‘We want to join the show’
‘Thibs don’t like us’
‘Now the Bulls have to gooooooo!’
It is very difficult to win games with only seven players. Especially when the Wizards were ten deep. I was very critical of Tom Thibodeau with the rotations of his squad. The Bulls struggled to score. Jimmer Fredette scored 17 points in his last game he played. I really mean that. It was the last game that he played. Ronnie Brewer would have been better served to play Snell’s minutes. We now know that Joakim Noah’s knee was injured throughout the series. Why not use Amundson? I’m not saying that these guys would have done much in this series. But at least try something.
Round three: Washington Wizards