Bulls will make adjustments
The Bulls dominated the first 24 minutes and led 55-47 at the break. The Bulls offense clicked on all cylinders. The Sixers opted to play off Joakim Noah and he made them pay with open jumper after open jumper. John Lucas III entered the game in the second quarter and provided a great spark right before the half. The lone negative for the Bulls was their inability to contain the Sixers on the other end. Philadelphia was on fire; they shot 57% and Jrue Holiday provided 18 of his 26 points, keeping the Sixers in the game.
If you were watching the first half you thought easy win for the Bulls. I never thought the Sixers had a chance. I expected them to play harder in the 2nd half and make it somewhat close, but I never expected to see what transpired in the 3rd quarter.
The Bulls came out ice cold and the Sixers continued to be lights out from the floor. The Bulls offense was inept and the defense just allowed the Sixers to turn the game into a track meet. Dunk and after dunk and jump shot after jump shot. As a fan you almost thought it wasn't happening. The Bulls going into an offensive drought can happen and is expected during the course of a game. However, watching their defense get picked apart is something as rare as the Sixers not missing from the floor.
The Sixers outscored the Bulls 36-14 in the 3rd quarter. Everything and anything that could go wrong for the Bulls did. Evan Turner and Andre Iguodala made their presence felt and the Bulls had no answers. The Bulls were late getting back on defense and showed zero intestinal fortitude--they allowed it to happen--and in their building. Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer vanished offensively; something I had written that just could not happen. Deng 3-12 for 8 points and Boozer just 4-10 for 9 points.
However, when you look at the box score the Bulls still shot 45%, committed only 8 turnovers, and finished with 92 points. The Bulls have won games shooting a lower percentage and committing more turnovers. So clearly the defensive effort was lacking, in conjunction with the Sixers just being unconscious from the floor. A team that normally struggles to score had a great quarter. You can easily call it an aberration. Does anyone really think the Sixers will shoot 59% from the floor again in this series?
Doug Collins made nice adjustments inserting Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes into the starting lineup. In the 3rd quarter Turner silenced his hometown crowd that vociferously booed him every time he touched the ball. Turner made tough shot after tough shot. Rip Hamilton blanketed him, but the second year player from Ohio State showed why the Sixers selected him No. 2 overall in the 2010 draft. I've been the one telling Sixer fans how great Turner would be after following his collegiate career. I think in due time it will be his team. Now fans are starting to see the light. One told me that they were wrong for doubting Turner's abilities after a disappointing rookie season.
Tom Thibodeau in destined for great things as a NBA head coach. I will be surprised if he doesn't win multiple NBA championships by the time his career is over. I feel he will make adjustments going forward that will make the Sixers uncomfortable offensively. It really is simple--keep them in the half court. And if it means putting Carlos Boozer on the bench for Taj Gibson--he will do it. For my recent praise of Boozer defensively, he was late on every help play and allowed so many easy baskets. Thibodeau will not tolerate that going forward.
The Bulls were an NBA best 24-9 on the road this season. You can make a case they won as many big road games without Rose as home games. The Bulls are too tough mentally to allow any crowd to take them out of their game. I do expect every game to be competitive, and I'm not saying the Sixers will not win another game this series; I'm just saying they will have to work a lot harder than they did in the 3rd quarter of game 2.