The Bulls haven’t been thrilled by the officiating so far in their second-round playoff match-up with the Miami Heat. After losing the fiercely contested Game 3, Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau spoke out about it.
Said Thibs: “When you play this team you have to have a lot of mental, physical and emotional toughness. Things aren’t going to go your way. That’s the way it is. You’re not going to get calls. That’s reality. We still have to find a way to get it done and we can.”
Thibodeau will have to help his team find a way to get it done with a little less walking around money, because the NBA fined him $35,000 for his comments.
Thibodeau was particularly irked about the Three Stooges-style dive LeBron James took after a reactionary shove from Nazr Mohammed in the first half. Probably because it resulted in Mohammed’s ejection.
Said Thibs: “From my angle, I saw a guy basically flop. I don’t think it warranted an ejection. I understand a flagrant foul, I understand that, but ejection, no, nope.”
Added Nate Robinson: “You see LeBron in a lot of commercials, a lot of good acting.”
Of course LeBron flopped. He’s the most imposing physical specimen in the NBA…you’re telling me Nazr shoved him hard enough to send him sprawling at least 10 feet? If you believe that, I know a Nigerian prince who would like to give you bags and bags of free money.
Said Mohammed: “It was a soft foul; it’s not like a fouled him hard. It was a stop-the-break foul. I thought it was a cheap shot throwing me down when all I was doing was trying to stop the break. … I’m disappointed in myself because I let my teammates down. And I’m also disappointed because my son probably was watching the game and I don’t want him to see that type of behavior on the court. I’m also disappointed that it warranted an ejection for a push — when I got pushed down first.”
Added Taj Gibson: “[Michael Jordan] would get fouled and he would just keep playing. That’s old-school basketball.”
Yes, but LeBron is not MJ, and today’s league is not the NBA of the 1990s. That’s just the way it is. The Bulls have to realize that and play on.
Just don’t expect them to get all soft and cuddly because of it. Quite the opposite.
Said Joakim Noah: “I expect the physical nature to continue [in Game 4]. It’s our only chance. … I think it’s very normal. You look at playoff basketball, it’s always physical. You look at every series, it’s physical. It’s just when you have somebody like LeBron James coming at you full speed, yeah, there’s a lot of contact. It’s just part of the game.”
Added Jimmy Butler: “We’re a hard-nosed, tough guy team. That’s what we label ourselves as. That’s what we pride ourselves on. We’re going to come out swinging. We’ll come out fighting. … Don’t give up any layups. I feel like when they get into the paint, we’ve got to make them earn it from the free throw line. If we do foul, we’ve got to make sure it’s not an ‘and one.’ I feel like they’ve been getting into the paint entirely too easy.”
Maybe. Although, according to Hoopdata, the Heat only 13-for-21 at the rim in Game 3. That 62 percent conversion rate is nearly 10 percentage points below Miami’s regular season average of 71.5. But limiting the Heat even further would obviously help.
What would also help would be the return of Kirk Hinrich and Luol Day. As usual, Thibodeau says both players are day-to-day, although it’s unlikely either of them will be ready for Game 4.
Said Deng: “I did some individual work (Saturday) and I started throwing up a little bit. I couldn’t finish the workout.I tried to practice (Sunday) and the same thing. I just warmed up and couldn’t get through practice. My body, my system is not reacting well to anything I’m doing right now. It’s not as bad as it was before,” Deng said. “But I can’t even get through a regular warm-up.
“Just because you get a spinal tap doesn’t mean (the flu) goes away.I had that and then the reaction to (the spinal tap). It just sucks, man. It’s not like an injury where you can just play through it and it slows you down a little bit. It’s just one of those things where, not even basketball-wise, just doing regular stuff is hard.”
As for Hinrich, ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell reports that Captain Kirk has been limited to shooting and exercise bike work in practice. Which doesn’t make it seem as though his injured calf is ready for game action.
Meanwhile, the Derrick Rose speculation continues, but that’s all it is. Speculation. There are two camps: one that thinks Rose is a wimp and should be playing because he has been medically cleared to do so, and another that says he is fully within his rights as an athlete and a human being to decide when he’s ready to play. And of course there’s the organization’s troubling history of allowing (or even pushing) players to play with significant injuries further muddying the waters.
None of it matters.
Rose isn’t playing and won’t do so until he’s ready. Speculation — while tempting — won’t change that.
All of which means the Bulls will go into Game 4 the same way they went into Game 3: diminished by injury but determined to do everything they can to win.