Game Three: Sixers win 79-74
Sixers: Spencer Hawes (21 points, nine rebounds) and Jrue Holiday (17 points, six rebounds, six assists)
Bulls: Carlos Boozer (18 points, ten rebounds) and Rip Hamilton (17 points, six rebounds, seven assists)
This isn’t how the Bulls playoffs were supposed to go. Derrick Rose was supposed to be at his healthiest and Chicago was going to catch fire. That was true for most of game one—until everything came crashing down.
Now Joakim Noah went out as well, with a “don’t watch the replay because it’s so gross” ankle injury. Then proceeded to try to come back and play, but just looked like a wounded animal. And the Sixers attacked him like one until Tom Thibodeau sat Noah down for the game.
Now the Bulls starting center will be out, in addition to their starting point guard. Things are looking grim in Chicago. Philadelphia is playing well and the Bulls are falling to injuries.
Chicago’s defense was there in game three, holding the Sixers to 34.2 percent shooting from the field, 7.1 percent from deep and just 79 points. Chicago also won the rebounding battle (49-43) and had nine more assists. The Bulls slowed down the Sixers, allowing just ten fast break points, while putting up 17 of their own. They made many of the adjustments from game two, but those parts of the game only help so much.
The Bulls couldn’t find any offense when they needed to. They shot just 37.3 percent themselves and allowed Philly to double them up in the fourth (28 points to 14). And while Philly was getting to the line in the fourth, and winning the game from there, the Bulls seemed allergic to it. The only guy who got there was Rip Hamilton, who went 8-12, but missed two in a row in the fourth which didn’t help.
As a team Philly made 26 free throws, while shooting 78.8 from there. The Bulls took 23 free throws and only made 14 of them (60.9 percent). Their poor free throw shooting is finally coming back to bite them.
The biggest thing about the playoffs is adjustments. Teams learn from wins and losses and make changes. But the adjustments Chicago has to make are inserting new guys into the starting line-up. First it was C.J. Watson in for Rose. Now it’s Asik for Noah. It’s hard to overcome those injuries…maybe impossible.
Losing Rose was the worst thing that could happen to the Bulls. Losing Noah is probably the second worse thing (not counting losing Brian Scalabrine). But the Bulls have to just carry on.
Everybody for Chicago had something missing in Friday night’s game. Carlos Boozer finally showed up, scoring 18 points (matching his total from the first two games combined) and grabbing ten rebounds. But Boozington also had 5 turnovers.
Rip got to the line well and filled up the stat sheet nicely (17 points, six rebounds, seven assists), but went just 4-15 from the field.
Luol Deng only took seven shots in his 37 minutes of action. He finished with five points. Deng was an All-Star this year, but has scored just 8 points and 5 points in the two games since Derrick Rose has been out. Andre Iguodala is a good defender, but Deng has to take some of the scoring load. So far he hasn’t been doing that. Lu is making more than $12 million this season. He has to score more than single digits.
C.J. Watson scored zero points, and the other point guard option, John Lucas, went 4-12 from the field.
Where is the offense for Chicago? The Sixers are a very good defense, but the Bulls don’t have any creators right now.
The Bulls can hold Philly to 79 points all they want, but if they can’t score, they aren’t going to win this playoff series.