Remember this number: 2:37. It’s not the time on the shot clock. Or the seconds left in the game. It’s not the number of times I will light you up. Nah, 2:37 isn’t any of that … wait, what? Actually it was the number of seconds left in the game. The Chicago Bulls were up by 10 points with 2 minutes and 37 seconds left and managed to find a way to collapse, choke, and lose. We were ready to send this thang back to South Beach, ready to take the first step towards making some history, and then it happened. All the things that worried me about this Bulls team came to a head in just 2:37: 1) one man cannot do it alone, 2) this team desperately lacked experience, and 3) the Miami Heat – RE: http://25twofour.com/2011/04/14/why-the-chicago-bulls-will-not-win-the-championship-in-2011/.
One Man Cannot do it Alone, Especially if He is a PG:
It is no secret Derrick Rose was held in check for most of this series and had a less than stellar playoff run. He is a great player, but I have to be fair with my criticism. Turning the ball over late, making bad decisions, being over whelmed by the moment, Thibs’ inability to understand that Rose couldn’t take LeBron, were just some of what he did wrong. This doesn’t mean dude isn’t one of the best players in the game, but we have to be fair and point out that some of those plays weren’t about his teammates not getting open, or the Heat playing great defense. Late in games two through five, Rose forced shots, had mental lapses, missed wide-open teammates, made basic mistakes, and missed a heartbreaking free-throw. Rose is and will continue to be my favorite player in the league. While this playoff run will hide some of the shine from this past season, he still had a remarkable season and will continue to grow. Like other superstars before him, he can either use this experience and learn form it, elevating his game to new heights or ignore it. Given the improvement he made this year form the last, his devotion to the game, and hunger to be the best, I suspect it will be the former.
Team Lacked Experience:
When the talent level between two teams is comparable, more times than not, experience will prevail. A lot of people don’t buy that argument, but I remain steadfast in championing it. Be it picking up on ladies at a bar, speaking in front of an audience, or playing basketball, the more one experiences something, the more times they go through the action, the more familiar they become with it, the likelihood of success increases. I cringed when I saw OKC crumble late in the last two games. Durant looked confused, the team looked afraid, and the coach looked clueless. The only thing more disturbing than watching the young inexperienced Thunder fold late, was watching my Baby Bulls look confused and scared. The Bulls were outplayed and outscored -by more than double digits- late in each of the last four games. We lacked trust in one another, in our game plan, and in our defense. Experience matters. Thibs’ locker room speech should have sounded something like this:
“We will learn from this defeat, and use it as fuel. We will use it to remind us what not to do, what to trust, and what not to fear. We are young and will remain hungry. As much as it hurts, we needed this, but rest assured we will be back. BET THAT.”
With one more move, the growth of Rose, and the experience of this postseason, the Bulls will be contenders from here on out.
The Miami Heat:
It is time to own up. All you people out there that couldn’t stop the hate, that sat there and debated till your faces were blue, that claimed there was no way the Heat could get past the Celtics (and then when Chicago started ripping through the league, the Bulls), own it … you were dead wrong.
I guess it’s appropriate to start this section with some much-deserved love for Lebron James. Let’s be clear, he messed up with the way the whole decision went down. While he had the right to go to whatever team he wanted, the way he did it was absurd and his image took a big hit for it. Having put that out there, STOP IT. Stop declaring that he is narcissistic and self-absorbed and then pretending that the majority of superstars in this game aren’t. Stop this nonsense about him not being the best player in the world. Stop this junk about him not being a good defender or not having that clutch gene. Stop trying to diminish his accomplishments with thin, worn out arguments that he joined “Dwayne Wade’s” team. LeBron has been the best player in the league for at least the last three season, and leading this team past the Celtics and Bulls shows he is all about bi-winning (he wins over here and he wins over there … RE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pipTwjwrQYQ).
The line-up that Riley intended on playing the whole season, if healthy is still as scary as we thought it would be in the off-season: Wade, Miller, James, Haslem, Bosh. Moreover, they just went through the two best teams in the Eastern Conference without dropping more than two games total. Even more impressive, they did it without one respectable big over 6’11. What people did not and do not realize about this team, is that much like Jordan and Pippen, Bron and Wade (yes I wrote it like that intentionally) swarm to the ball on double teams, close out on shooters and recover faster than any other perimeter tandem in the league. They are managing to do what the 90’s Bulls did on defense by helping, recovering, rotating to compensate for their lack of size inside. Also, it seems patently unfair to have two guys, at times three, that can go off in the fourth. Think about that, if a defense manages to hold one of the top players in the game down in the fourth quarter it’s a great accomplishment. To ask them to lock down two of the best players in the fourth seems unfair. And if a game goes to overtime, forget about it. Finally, if that wasn’t asking enough, you are asking that same team to turn around and score on two of the best perimeter defenders in the game.
 Realistically, the things that worried me about this team came out in the first round against the Pacers.
 How dare you not get the ball to Durant on the block when a 6’3 PG is guarding one of the three best offensive players in the game? I don’t care if he misses, 94-95- down one, Kidd on Durant and Durant doesn’t touch the ball … really? Even if he folds in that situation, he deserves the opportunity to fold (like he did when he started chucking half court shots at the end of games).
 Let me be blunt and say Boozer SUCKS. I am sick of his inability to defend or show up consistently in games. He is a max deal. Either play like it or move him. I’d be down for deal with OKC – Boozer for Ibaka and Collision… if OKC would be down for it.
 If you really thought MJ was the wholesome dude in the Gatorade commercials, or that Kobe really looks at his teammates as brothers, or that Durant is the nicest guy in the world, be real with yourself. The majority of these athletes love their faces more than we can ever imagine, the trick is who can hide it the best.
 As great a defensive coach as Thibs is, please tell me he will hire someone to teach his guys how to close out on the ball and not go for every freaking pump fake.
 Shouldn’t be all that shocking, before I even knew who’d fill this roster, I figured this would be the case: http://25twofour.com/2010/07/10/lebron-wade-bosh-the-nba-july-10-2010/