Apr 22, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard D.J. Augustin (14) dribbles the ball against Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) during the second half in game two during the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at United Center. Washington Wizards defeats the Chicago Bulls 101-99 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
After Tuesday night’s win in Chicago, the Washington Wizards have taken a 2-0 series lead over the Chicago Bulls. Call me crazy, but it’s not looking too good if you’re a Chicago Bulls fan.
Ron Agers, of FanSided’s Pippen Ain’t Easy, discussed Game 1 with me after Washington pulled off the upset victory. He was kind enough to join me for another Q&A, this time discussing the results of Game 2.
– So, Ron, it’s not looking too good for your Bulls right now. After being down by as much as 17 points, the Bulls inched their way back in Game 2, eventually gaining a lead of their own. Needless to say, they didn’t hold on to the advantage. Bradley Beal hit some tough shots and Nene came up big in overtime. Why couldn’t the Bulls sustain their second half play, besides being unable to score, of course?
Ben, the one thing that has been overlooked going into this series was the coaches. Everybody worried about the frontcourt advantage with the Bulls getting the edge (that was wrong based on the first two games) and the backcourt with the Wizards having the edge (that was right based on the first two games.) It has come down to coaching. Randy Wittman has SCHOOLED Tom Thibodeau the first two games. Wittman has made adjustments down the stretch by using matchups that are wearing the Bulls out. First was the decision to keep Andre Miller in down the stretch in Game one. In Game two, Gortat was terrible so Trevor Booker got the minutes. He is making Thibodeau look like it’s HIS first playoff series and not the other way around. Thibodeau has not made adjustments and the Wizards have figured them out. Plain and simple. What’s more disturbing is I basically described his offense in one of my articles BEFORE the playoffs. Sad!
– D.J. Augustin is virtually the only player on Chicago’s roster that’s able to create his own shot. Once Randy Wittman put Trevor Ariza on Augustin, he was essentially useless. If Ariza continues to defend Augustin, and I anticipate that to happen, what adjustments could Chicago make to get some scoring?
It depends. If Tom Thibodeau would catch a clue, he would give Carlos Boozer more time on the floor. It is really sickening to watch this guy sit on the bench in the fourth quarter considering he is the only player on the Bulls roster with a back to the basket post game. THE ONLY ONE! I mean, who allows their team to get a 20-4 run put on them in ten minutes of game action and just let the guy who has a career playoff scoring average of 17 points per game sit and rot? Who? Again, I’m starting to think that the Wizards hacked the Pippen Ain’t Easy website because we saw this coming as well. At this point in the season, there really is no adjustments other that praying Mike Dunleavy can spell “jump shot”. When he shoots over 50% from the floor in games the Bulls are unbeatable. When he shoots bricks the Bulls are so ugly to watch that you want to make up with your arch enemy from high school
– The Bulls gave up home court advantage and are heading to the nation’s capital to take on a very confident Wizards team. What are the chances we don’t see another game at the United Center this season, and the Wizards close out the series at home with a sweep?
The chances that this series goes back to Chicago are slim and none, and slim is hanging out with Mister Obama and his family trying to handle the nation’s budget. The Wizards have figured out the Bulls offense. I mean, it really is not that hard. I basically broke down the offense on Pippen Ain’t Easy. It took a few lines. It’s like that Geico commercial… Even a caveman can do it. Really the only way the Bulls can win a game is if John Wall and Bradley Beal have a off night AND Nene goes to sleep on the offensive end. The Wizards have too many weapons and the Bulls just don’t match up with these guy.
– Tom Thibodeau has been criticized for running his players into the ground in the past and it doesn’t look like he’ll be changing his coaching style any time soon. What gives? The Bulls give it their all on the defensive side of the floor and definitely show some signs of fatigue late in games. What are your thoughts on Thibs and his decision to play his core group for the vast majority of the game?
You heard it here at Pippen Ain’t Easy first. Tom Thibodeau can’t coach. I don’t care that he finished third in the Coach of the Year balloting. Yeah I said it. There’s a reason why this team gives it all on the defensive side of the ball. That’s all Thibodeau knows. Some coaches are not cut out to be head coaches. Thibodeau is a great assistant coach that handles defense only. He’s Mike D’Antoni inside out. He has this belief that his defense will cover the flaws of the offense no matter what. For the past few weeks I have been harping on the fact that this team can’t score. It’s not really about the fatigue totally. Thibodeau puts a team on the floor in the fourth quarter that cannot create their own shot. Let me take that back. Carlos Boozer can do that but he sits on the bench when the street lights come on aka when the third quarter ends. The Bulls have no offensive system. When you are not scoring for periods of time, that’s mentally draining.
– And finally, give us your thoughts on the first two contests.
If you remember at the top of the series my prediction was Bulls in seven, but I was so on the fence based on the fact that the Bulls can’t score. But this has come down to coaching. Tom Thibodeau’s belief in his defense almost to the point of arrogance has killed the Bulls in the fourth quarter. The Bulls have been exposed in their matchups and Thibodeau has done nothing. Other the other side, Randy Wittman has done moves that should have had him voted third in the Coach of the Year voting. There are two things that the Bulls can do if they want to play those “if necessary” games. They need to bench Kirk Hinrich and put Augustin in the starting lineup and play Carlos Boozer in the fourth quarter. I don’t care if Thibodeau has an issue with his defense. Has his defensive schemes worked in the playoffs? If he has math problems he can live with these stats…Six points in the final six minutes in Game 1 AND a 20-4 run over a ten minute period in Game two.