Asik is not the goat!
The first and most important thing that needs to be addressed is that Omer Asik was not the goat. That was all I read after the game on facebook. If you are a casual fan who didn't see the game, the blame normally goes to the guy who missed the free throws. However, if you have a clue and aren't an idiot, you know that Omer Asik should have never been in that position. CJ Watson made one of the dumbest mental errors you will ever see in that situation. Omer Asik was a 46% free throw shooter during the regular season, and was under 30% for the series entering game 6. The amazing thing was Asik was actually 3 for 4 in the game when he went to the line at the end. Law of averages anyone?
CJ Watson had the ball and somehow broke free past half court after the Sixers cut the Bulls lead to one. Unless Asik had an absolute clear path to the basket with zero chance of being fouled, Watson should've just continued to dribble the ball until he was fouled. Who knows how much time would've come off the clock? When Watson threw that bounce pass and Asik got fouled, it felt like someone stabbed me right in the heart. I almost went into shock. My only hope was Asik just making one, but I had zero confidence in that happening.
What gets lost in all this was Asik and Watson, both filling in for the injured Noah and Rose, actually had good games. Asik had 10 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks. Watson was awful as usual from the floor shooting the basketball (2-11), but had 10 assists and zero turnovers. If the Bulls had won the game they would've been considered unsung heroes. Instead, both are receiving death threats on twitter for costing the Bulls the game. Now that is where fans go to the extreme. Being sick to the point where you never want to watch sports again is one thing; going on twitter and threatening the lives of professional athletes just screams insanity.
Now going back to the final 15 seconds. Even prior to the Watson mental error, I was furious when the officials swallowed their whistles on the prior possession. Jrue Holiday walked and then Thadeus Young just threw his body into the lane and knocked over a defender on the basket he scored. Then the most puzzling thing I've ever seen during a basketball game occurred. After Asik missed the second free throw, Andre Iguodala grabbed the rebound and somehow takes two dribbles and ends up on a one on one fast break with Asik being the lone defender.
How the hell does that happen? Did the Bulls assume the Sixers were going to call timeout? Please anyone comment and tell me if they've ever seen such a thing. I've been watching the NBA since 1986 and cannot recall that ever happening. Considering Luol Deng guarded Iguodala the entire game, I'm sure he was his responsibility. A fast break off a missed free throw. I feel sick again thinking about that.
So Iguodala gets fouled. Can't complain there, it was a legit foul. A guy who is hated by most of his own fans for never stepping up to be the guy, calmly made both free throws. The Bulls inbound the ball and Watson was nearly given a mulligan by the basketball gods for his bonehead error. From beyond half court after contact was made (another no call), hits back of the rim from over 50 feet. Had he been touched the way he was at any other part of the game it would've been a foul. There's where it's easy to criticize the officials.
The worst 15 seconds of my life as a sports fan. The worst loss as a fan since the Bears blew a 10-0 lead in Denver with under 2 minutes to go last year. My worst playoff loss since the Yankees blew a 3-0 series lead against the Red Sox in 2004. To be so close to forcing a game 7--ugh--not even sure how long it will hurt for. I don't even know how I can watch the Sixers/Celtics series without vomiting.
And while I was pleased with the play of Luol Deng, Richard Hamilton and Taj Gibson, Carlos Boozer once again disappointed in a big spot. He was so bad offensively (1-11 FG) he ended up on the bench for the entire 4th quarter. No surprise there. I have said all along since they acquired him--the Bulls will have to win in spite of him. And to think had the Bulls front office not traded LaMarcus Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas on draft day, the Bulls would have never had to overpay for this stiff. It's still debated who was the bigger goat in Utah during their playoff failures: Deron Williams or Carlos Boozer? Boozer just has no heart. It is going to be tough going forward watching him in a Bulls uniform after that performance.
Best record back-to-back years and nothing to show for it. I know Jordan lost several playoff series before finally getting over the hump. Hopefully, the same happens for this group.