This loss was both poetic, and good for the Bulls. It was poetic because they played poorly, yet were in a position to win (or extend the game to overtime) precisely because they were facing the worst free-throw shooting team on the league. Yet they failed because they, too, stink at the line.
At the same time, the loss was good for the Bulls because as long as they were able to keep winning while shooting terribly from the line, there would have been no sense of urgency. The manner in which they lost, however, might actually help the team in the long run.
It is true that free-throw shooting is not an easy skill to improve quickly (if at all). It takes time, practice, and good coaching. But above all, it requires dedication by the individual(s), and that is something that, in this context, seems to have been missing from the Bulls this season.
Given that it was Rose – an underachiever at the line himself – who missed the crucial free-throw, it is likely that he will redouble his efforts to improve in that area. And given that he is certainly a leader of the team, and especially by example of his work ethic, perhaps the rest of the players will feel pressure to focus on improving their foul shooting (pun intended) as well.
This is no joke, though, as even with the team (hopefully) back at full strength for the playoffs, any thought of upsetting an elite contender will remain a fantasy unless the Bulls shore up their free-throw shooting.
About the Author:
Tony C. grew up in Evanston, and cut his teeth on the exciting, early ’70’s Walker-Love-Sloan-Van Lier Bulls. As you might expect, he is thrilled with the direction and development of the current team, as the emphasis on determination, defense and chemistry is so reminiscent of that classic, earlier era.