Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Umm this was ugly. I mean real ugly. The Chicago Bulls picked the absolute worst time of the season to run out of gas. Literally. The Washington Wizards ended the Bulls season winning 75-69 to win the Eastern Conference matchup 4-1. After working so hard to obtain home court advantage in the first round, the Bulls found out that was fool’s gold. The Bulls lost all three games in Chicago to extend their losing streak to six games. Since 1982 the Washington Wizards have won only two playoff series. They have both been against the Chicago Bulls with the last one being back in 2005 when they were led by Gilbert Arenas before the gun scandal derailed the franchise. Jimmy Butler and Kirk Hinrich led the Bulls with 16 points apiece. Taj Gibson who injured his ankle early in the fourth quarter scored 12 points. Joakim Noah had 18 rebounds and seven assists but didn’t give the Bulls what they needed most…scoring. Noah only scored six points on 3-8 shooting from the floor. Carlos Boozer who really NEEDS to be amnestied after the season for the best interests for both parties finished with ten points and nine rebounds. The Washington Wizards got their golden ticket to the second round from John Wall with 24 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a block. His backcourt mate Bradley Beal helped him out with 17 points, four assists and two steals. Nene returned his one game suspension to drop 20 points grab seven rebounds and dish out four assists. Here’s what I learned from Game five.
1) Nene gave Joakim Noah the business…again.
Look let’s not let the stats fool you here Pippen Peoples. Noah got dominated again by Nene. If there was a telling moment in this game it was when Nene shot a jumper in Noah’s eye and both of them were shaking their heads on camera. Nene was shaking head going whooo going down the floor because he knew he was feeling it. Noah was shaking his head like he knew Nene was feeling it too, only he was powerless to stop it. This is not about stats Pippen Peoples this about imposing wills. Nene took it to Noah and wore him down. The Bulls have to have scoring from Noah to have a chance to win in this game. It didn’t happen. I know Joakim Noah is an emotional player that plays the game with a load of passion and energy, but he hopefully learned a valuable lesson in this series. He is going to have to learn how to corral some of his emotions and use it more positively. When the Bulls were in Washington, he made the news for all of the wrong reasons. He wasn’t in the news for being the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. He was in the news for arguing with the Wizards security manager. He was in the news for talking trash in the press conference laughing about Nene’s ejection from Game three and eventual suspension for Game four. He even mouthed “Roid Rage”. He would have been better served to keep his mouth shut and played ball. When you are the leader in the locker room, this is unacceptable. Needless to say, the Bulls did not win a game for the rest of the series. Nene’s suspension stinks for who Joakim?
2) DJ Augustin was basically taken out of this game…TOTALLY!
This game was basically an extension of basically the fourth quarter of Game two. The Wizards basically threw different bodies at Augustin and basically made him work for everything that he got. Believe me it wasn’t much. Augustin was held to four points on 1-10 shooting from the floor. The Washington Wizards came into this series with a plan to stop Augustin and worked it to perfection. They first put John Wall on him who is bigger and more athletic than Augustin. Then when he started to find his rhythm, they put Trevor Ariza on him which was one of the main factors in this series. Augustin really could not get a decent look through out the series with Ariza hanging on him. In the playoffs, defensive strategies are quite simple, you take away a piece of the offense. With the Bulls well documented struggles on offense, Head Coach Randy Wittman was going to take away Augustin knowing that the Bulls would be crippled offensively. With the Bulls scoring a season low 69 points which including 28 points in the second half, I think the strategy worked quite well.
3) The Chicago Bulls going forward into the offseason have to find an offensive system.
Look Pippen Peoples, let me tell you something you might not want to hear. This Bulls team was beaten by a better team. What the Bulls did to make the playoffs was nothing short of amazing considering the circumstances. But let me tell you, this series loss is going to hurt. The Chicago Bulls offensive system was borderline archaic and predictable. This falls on Tom Thibodeau and the coaching staff. The Chicago Bulls lost all three games at home the exact same way. When the Bulls needed a basket and tried to run their offense, they had no set plays to got to. When Joakim Noah got the ball in his usual spot to run the offense, the Wizards either pressured him and played him real tight to disrupt the offense or back off and made him knock down jumpers. Either way he never looked comfortable. The Bulls offense would have been worse had it not been for…
DJ Augustin going insane for 25 points in Game two.
Mike Dunleavy setting records knocking down eight three pointers in ten attempts for 35 points in Game three.
Taj Gibson scoring a career high 32 points on 13-16 shooting from the field in Game four.
The Washington Wizards have five guys on the floor that you have to guard at all times. Taj Gibson said it best, The Wizards always hit them in the mouth first and the Bulls squad is not built to be coming from behind all of the time. Problem is, you can’t hit a team in the mouth when you can’t score.
The season is over, but Pippen Ain’t Easy is just getting started. We will be breaking down the final analysis of the series and the regular season. We will be looking into possible draft candidates for positions 16 and 19. There will be a Carmelo Anthony watch. Plus we will be doing in-depth coverage of the Donald Sterling ban through to his possible selling of the Clippers. Keep it locked to Pippen Ain’t Easy, the best choice for Bulls news, previews and reviews.