I’ve played enough bad defense to know bad defense when I see it. And what I saw in the Celtics series was enough bad defense by the Bulls to send a defensive-minded coach into therapy for years. It’s a good thing Tom Thibodeau wasn’t here to witness it. He would have had to be carried off on his clipboard.
It was obvious from the first shot what the Celtics wanted to do in this first-round series, and it was obvious the Bulls had no idea how to stop it. Time after time, Isaiah Thomas or someone else would drive toward the basket and then pass back to a teammate for a three-pointer. Time after time, a Celtic was wide open at the arc.
We can argue forever whether defense is a matter of athletic ability or desire, but it really doesn’t matter. The Bulls are lacking in both categories. They’re lacking in a lot of categories. And short of an act of God, I’m not sure how that can change next season.
The Celtics knocked the Bulls out of the playoffs with a 105-83 victory Friday night at the United Center. Eighty-three points? Add offense to the can’t-do list.
This can’t be a roster the Bulls want to stick with (can it?), but why it was put together in the first place is one of life’s mysteries. It was as if somebody in authority half-thought of rebuilding and then half-thought better of it. And that’s how you sort of find a way into the playoffs and sort of aren’t good enough to have a chance of advancing.
The handwringing over the loss of Rajon Rondo to injury was amusing. The guy who got benched during the season, he’s the messiah who could have saved this series for the Bulls? Right. Even if he did, to what end? Where are the Bulls going with this group anyway?
Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler took turns disappearing in the series, and that’s probably no coincidence. Injuries will be given as a reason, but it’s hard to say the two players ever meshed this season, no matter how much they talked about their abiding respect for one another. Again, this was a team put together without much thought of how it would all work.
Coach Fred Hoiberg was brought here from Iowa State to install his high-powered Hoi-ball offense, then given the keys to a hearse. The Bulls handed him the 35-year-old Wade and Rondo, who isn’t a push-the-ball type of player. You can make the argument that a good coach should be able to adjust to the players he has, but in this case, it was like asking a good writer to adjust to a new alphabet.
Some of the lineups Hoiberg used at times in this series would have led a more high-strung coach to seek out general manager Gar Forman with homicidal intent. I mean, Bobby Portis, Cristiano Felicio, Anthony Morrow, Paul Zipser and Isaiah Canaan getting minutes?
This is a tweener roster, with a few name players to keep you slightly interested (and buying tickets) and too many marginal players to make winning consistently an impossibility.
Then again, Wade had two points Friday on one-of-10 shooting in Game 6, so who’s who?
Four straight losses to the Celtics in this series is exactly what the Bulls are.
Rondo played well in the first two games, leading the Bulls to two road victories before fracturing his thumb. That made him the opiate of the people, some of whom started to think, “You know, these Bulls aren’t so bad.’’
You know, they’re not so good, either.
They were 41-41 in the regular season and lost in the playoffs in the manner you’d expect from a .500 team.
Are the Bulls close to contending in the East?
“I feel like we might be,’’ Butler said after Game 6. “I really can’t answer that for you. That’s for whatever (the front office) feels we need or we don’t need.’’
Boston hit nine of 18 three-pointers in the first half Friday. By the end of the game, that had increased to 16 of 39. It’s one of many reasons the Bulls are done for the season, but it’s a glaring one. The Celtics aren’t a great team, but they can hit three-pointers. Is it too late to tell the Bulls to start guarding somebody?
Mitch Trubisky, the Bears’ controversial first-round pick, was at Game 6 and shown on the United Center video board. Many in the crowd booed the quarterback. I’d like to think the Bulls’ play had poisoned the water for him. Or maybe they thought Forman had drafted him.
Whatever, this season is over. Thankfully. We don’t have to watch this anymore. And we don’t have to listen to Hoiberg gripe about Thomas’ “illegal” dribbling.
And you thought there weren’t any positives.