It really couldn’t end any other way, could it? Being held under 70 (again), losing at home (again), losing one player to injury (again) and having another visibly marginalized by injury (again). Fighting and scrapping and bleeding and, eventually, dying in the first round to a younger, faster, better team (again). Yesterday was the two year anniversay of the Derrick Rose Injury, but today marks the two year anniversary of the shockwave that followed. A shockwave that, through Luol Deng nearly dying, then playing the best ball of his career, then being traded and faded into nothing, seems to have officially turned the Bulls into the thing I always feared they would become: an also ran. Good enough to scrape together 45 wins or so, but not good enough to do any real damage in the playoffs. Had Nate Robinson not turned in the Sun for an hour or so last spring, this would be three straight first round exits. Before the Bulls’ first game without Derrick Rose, they won 10 playoff games. In the three playoff flame outs since, they’ve won 7.
This is who they are, now. While things stand to change this summer, this is all we have to show for this team. I found them neither enjoyable nor admirable. I did, however, find them respectable. Boozer’s probably gone, and so is D.J. Augustin (if he wants to return for the minimum, I wouldn’t say no). Jimmy Butler hopefully will get to sit down once in a while next season, and either Nikola Mirotic or Carmelo Anthony will be joining what should still be a very good frontcourt. Mike Dunleavy is likely trade bait, so his 35 point game 3 is what we’ll have to remember him by. There are worse things. Two first round draft picks are coming, both on the low side of the non-lottery first round. A backup big man should be a priority, as should someone who can shoot. Most importantly, Derrick Rose should be back. He’s going to play with Team USA this summer, and the last time he did that, he won the MVP. Four years ago.
What a four years it’s been.
Player(s) of the Game: Kirk Hinrich, Taj Gibson.