Bulls’ Backs Against Wall They Built


MIAMI – Based on who they have, who they don’t and what their depleted roster might have left in a postseason that has lasted longer than they probably had a right to expect, the Chicago Bulls appear to have hit a wall.

Naturally, they’ll do what they have done before in such circumstances. They will peel themselves off it like Wile E. Coyote after the painted-tunnel trick, do an about-face and face the Miami Heat in Game 5 of their conference semifinals series (7 p.m ET, TNT). With their backs against that proverbial wall.

“All we’re thinking about is Game 5, first quarter. That’s it,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said at his team’s morning shootaround. “You’ve got to go step by step. To me, it’s be ready for the first quarter. We understand what needs to be done. That’s all we’re focused in on. Not any of the what-if’s or any of that.”

Few teams, frankly, have more what-if’s about them than the Bulls, who again will face the NBA defending champions without forward Luol Deng, without guard Kirk Hinrich and, of course, without 2011 MVP Derrick Rose. Deng – two weeks after suffering some severe flu symptoms as well as complications from a diagnostic spinal tap – did not even travel with the club for this one. Hinrich’s calf bruise, suffered in Game 4 of the first round, still prevents him from running or playing.

As for Rose, well, if he invests the way he rehabs from knee surgery, his risk aversion would have his millions all sitting in a checking account. That’s how conservative he’s been since having his torn left ACL repaired a year ago this week.

The Bulls still standing shoulder on. They are 2-5 in franchise playoff history in Game 5 when facing elimination, temporarily fending off Detroit in 2007 and Philadelphia in 2012. This Miami team, meanwhile, is 7-1 in the Big 3 era when it has a chance to close out the opposition.

“Whatever your circumstances are, you have to make the best of those circumstances,” Thibodeau said. “This team has dealt with adversity all year. We’ve had the unique ability to bounce back. That’s what I’m expecting us to do tonight.

“Emotion’s not going to win the game. Playing well, doing your job, getting it done, that’s what’s going to win the game.”

Said guard Nate Robinson: “Last game, we didn’t make shots. First game we played here, we played hard, we made shots. That’s what it’s about, getting stops and getting buckets.”

Robinson, the instant-offense backup thrust in Hinrich’s absence into Rose’s role, scored 27 points in Game 1, the Bulls’ surprise road victory of the series. Since then, with the full weight of Miami’s defense bearing down on him, he has shot 8-for-35, including 0-for-12 Monday.

Naturally, Robinson would like to see the Bulls get Carlos Boozer and Marco Belinelli going early to shift some of the Heat’s defensive focus to them. Maybe that could open some seams for him, for Jimmy Butler and for Joakim Noah.

Because as it is, that wall the Bulls have their backs against has been built in part by them, brick by brick. They’re shooting 37.6 percent in the series. Chicago has taken 12 more shots than the Heat (298-286) yet has 29 fewer field goals (112-141).

The free-throw situation is equally illuminating. For all the grumbling and physical play, the Bulls are 81-for-107 from the line and the Heat are 81-for-105.

The biggest question for Miami as Game 5 approached was guard Dwyane Wade‘s availability. Coach Erik Spoelstra said Wade, hobbled by a bruised right knee, did fine in shootaround but that his participation would be a game-time decision.

Miami did sit Wade from the series finale against Milwaukee in the first round, giving him what wound up as eight days of rest before this series began. If he sits out Game 5 Wednesday and Miami were to win, Wade would have at least until Monday – a full week after Game 4 – and possibly until Wednesday before the East finals begin.


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  2. Baba says:

    Nate should be rewarded for his good play in the playoff unlike other players

  3. Bespoken says:

    Underdog fans in here. Hope Bulls can steal one more from this series.

  4. Baba says:

    Ding overrated . Nate good player

  5. LeggoHEAT says:

    Bulls is done for the season, time to rest, recover, regroup and reign again on the next

  6. Rock Robin says:

    Some players are tougher than others and definitely D-Rose isn’t one of them. – Been a Bulls fan all my life but Rose just lost another fan

  7. raul says:

    sorry for all the chicago fans, but the bulls vs heat series is a wrap…… se you all next year for a match in the ECF if everyones players are healthy and playing. goooo heat!!!!

  8. Bob slanadanapopavitch says:

    C’mon Bull’s! I still have faith in you. Lets go Bulls!

  9. Mike says:

    It is too hot for Chicago…it is time for the HEAT to barbecue the BULLS.

  10. 3ptdagger says:

    I’ll be surprised if the Heat don’t win even without Wade. Chicago Bulls should be great next year as long as Rose is back and everyone is healthy. But they’ll probably trade key players and screw themselves over.

  11. Phil says:

    Bulls fan here, hoping the bulls pull out the win tonight, but if they don’t at least we are done watching games that Rose doesn’t play in and we don’t have to listen to Steve Kerr’s commentary anymore this year. Hoping for some game 5 magic! Go Bulls and go Blackhawks!

    • HEAT FANatic says:

      Hoping for some “magic”, eh ? That’s exactly your HUGE problem.
      The HEAT never relies on magic — we always have an elaborate game plan(s) ( as well as several backups) and execute with relentless efficiency, ruthless tenacity, gritty determination and the ferocity of lions.

  12. Heat Hater says:

    Hey Chicago Bulls don’t worry, let the HEAT beat you game 5 by 20 or 30 points, so what ? we will re group and come back next 10 years for a revenge

    • KunJay says:

      That’s a plan, or maybe not. Thibodeau play that team like androids there’s a reason they are decimated that style of play will doom you sooner or later. No “bench mob” to pull from anymore.

    • Nash fan says:

      lol i just love it…. revenge over the next 10 years…. i’m pretty sure when rose is back and healthy next year BULLS will win it all!

    • dude says:

      next 10 years? next 10 years Lebron would be a grandpa ,chicago would win definitely by that time.

  13. yo check it says:

    nothing exciting in the eastern conference. the western conference is where the games are at.