Now that we’ve got one game behind us, Ronald and I chatted a bit about the outcome and how the Washington Wizards came back from a double-digit deficit in the third quarter, eventually going on to win the first playoff game away from home.
- The Chicago Bulls were the favorites prior to last night’s contest, but they failed to hold on to a double-digit lead early in the third quarter. Why did their elite defense seem to falter after gaining a significant advantage, ultimately going on to lose the game at home?
Ben, it’s real simple. The Chicago Bulls stopped scoring. They scored only 39 points in the second half. That is broken down to 21 points in the third quarter and 18 points in the fourth. Now here’s the kicker, in the last six minutes of the game, the Bulls scored six points. As we talked earlier, I have ruffled some feathers at Pippen Ain’t Easy downplaying the defense and pointing out the deficiencies on the offensive end. The Bulls put so much pressure on their defense by putting all their eggs in that basket so to speak. If the defense doesn’t do well, odds are they will lose. Sometimes in basketball you have to put the ball through the hoop. Again, it bears repeating. The Bulls were DEAD LAST in scoring. In the last four home losses Chicago has had they average 86 points. They have been outscored by an average of 11 points! That’s not acceptable at home especially and you will not win in the playoffs that way.
- Joakim Noah will likely go on to win Defensive Player of the Year, and he’s certainly deserving, but he’s had trouble guarding Nene. Nene has averaged about 25 points per 36 against Noah; Why has Noah had trouble with Nene?
Nene is too big and too strong. Joakim Noah is an energy guy. He uses his motor and quickness to out-hustle a lot of his opponents. The one thing Nene does on the block that a lot of players don’t want to deal with is be physical on the offensive end. There are a lot of players that are physical on the defensive end, but not a lot on the offensive end. Nene just wore Noah down. A lot of people around the country don’t know this but Nene has some of the best footwork in the NBA. The only thing is that he’s been hurt so much throughout his career that he has not been able to showcase the talent. Remember when he had to sit out a year to battle cancer when he was in Denver? He’s never been healthy for lengthy periods of time. Plus he was coached by the great George Karl. If you know his work, George Karl can nag the ears off a Billy goat. But you see the discipline that was learned from Karl by Nene in Game 1.
- What do the Bulls have to do differently in Game 2 to tie the series?
This will depend on Coach Tom Thibodeau. His rotation patterns are a major concern. He really only goes seven deep where the Wizards can go ten easily. He was severely out-coached by Randy Wittman. This is the playoffs. The Bulls are not playing Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Orlando. They are playing a team in Washington who is just as hot in 2014 as the Bulls. Here’s an example that sums everything up. Andre Miller played major minutes in the fourth quarter instead on John Wall. I’m pretty sure Wall was ready to go back in but Wittman stayed with Miller and watched him destroy D.J. Augustin. Thibodeau is so set in his ways. It’s like he used the same game plan on Sunday that he used for 82 games! Thibodeau is going to cost the Bulls big time in this series if he doesn’t wake up.
- Are you concerned about the outcome of the series given the result of Game 1?