The Bulls 2nd round loss to the Cavs in the 2014-2015 playoffs was the first time in the Thibodeau era where I felt disappointed with a Bulls team effort. I don’t know where and if/what blame should be assessed. I don’t get any inside info.
I thought it was Thib’s inability to push them, but then I realized it was frustration. In the end, Tom Thibodeau is an incredible coach. He’s done more with less than perhaps any coach I’ve ever seen. If you look at his body of work under the barrage of bad luck and injuries, Thibodeau should get hall of fame recognition for his resourcefulness and ability to rally the troops for as long as he did. It’s truly incredible.
I’ve had a few days to think about it. In the end, I think the Bulls core is physically and emotionally worn out. I think they lost the will to fight when Rose got the stinger in game 5 and went something like 8-22 the rest of the series, including 1-4 against Delle-fucking-dova in the second half of game 6. Once Rose stopped being aggressive, I think the team shut down.
I think in the back of their heads they went, “Oh, no. Not again.”
This core has been dealing with Rose’s injuries impeding their success since 2012. For most, it’s been half their career wasted waiting on his chronic recovery. And he started to break down for the third time this year with the stingers.
Couple this with the fact that the front line physically fell apart. If it wasn’t for Rose’s Grant Hill-like chronic injuries, Noah’s body breaking down once again entering the playoff season would be the highlight – this time his knee was wearing down. Also, Gibson’s shoulder is worn, coupled with Gasol’s hamstring, Mirotic’s inexperience and Thib’s refusal to use Mohhamed’s big body and 6 fouls.
The team’s issues flanked them to the point where they broke. If they weren’t so tied to the contracts of players, the core would have been dismantled for parts last year.
Front office – Pax & Gar – is probably going to blame Thibodeau for overworking the players (if the media is right). The truth is that Jordan, Pippen & Rodman in their 30s endured more minutes during the 90s: one of the leagues most physically abusive years. They fought through the Knicks bad boys and the Pacers tough front line and endured.
Should Thibodeau have rested them more? I don’t know. I’m not there. All I see is what reporters tweet, the games on TV, along with reported history.
Regardless, the Bulls can’t ride behind Rose anymore. He’s falling apart faster than did Iverson. Unless the NBA shortens the pre-season and removes the back-to-back games, putting the season into a pattern schedule reminiscent of European Leagues and sports like the NFL and soccer, players like Rose, Westbrook, Durant, Noah, Love (who could get hurt with a misplaced pin prick and a hard-fought sneeze – precipitating perhaps the worst trade in NBA history), will continue to be unreliable. Execs will have to continue to look for more mules and less mustangs.
Even if Derrick Rose could physically endure a healthy season for the first time since 2011, I don’t think anyone could mentally and emotional handle his every slip and fall.
I think it’s become too much. I don’t think I could, and I’m a guy who was listening to the rest of Bulls / Cavs Game 6 on the NBA App on my iPhone 5S while walking into Fudruckers for dinner with Katie despite not having seen her in 4 days because I couldn’t give up on the Bulls.
I absolutely love Derrick Rose, but he can’t be the alpha anymore.
As for the Bulls moving forward, I suspect they’ll pay the max for Butler and probably look to trade Noah before his contract expires in 2016. I love Noah, but he’s 30 and still can’t figure out how to shoot with his right hand, his strong hand. No team takes his offense seriously, which means they sag off and watch his passing lanes, effectively nullifying his gifted ability to pas and run an offense through the post. More importantly, he doesn’t stay healthy enough in April to be worth what the Bulls pay him. If McDermott doesn’t go through a conditioning program a-la Kyle Korver to develop some much needed quickness, and get the dip & sway out of his shot, he might as well buy a camera & take up photography because he’ll have nothing else to do from his seat on the bench during games.
And if they go with a new coach, the new guy will have to continue to transition leadership to Mirotic & Butler. It should officially be their team now.
But it would be an incredible mistake if they let Thibodeau go.