After their game 6 loss, even the most optimistic Bulls fan or spectator had to be skeptical of them winning a game 7. With all the injuries and now illness, how could the Bulls overcome all of this and advance to the next round? Joakim Noah still believed in the team and the system, and told the world that the Bulls would win game 7. Noah, unlike so many before him to guarantee victory, actually delivered as the Bulls went into Brooklyn and eliminated the Nets 99-93.
Noah, playing through his plantar fasciitis, produced 24 points and 14 rebounds and 6 blocks. He looked like a man possessed; as if he was destined to win this game. He displayed moves that I don't think he knew he had in his repertoire. With the exception of one beautiful driving emphatic dunk, most of what he did wasn't pretty, and was rather surprising when it went in the basket. He shot an astounding 12-17 from the floor.
Despite his offensive shortcomings, Noah outperformed counterpart Brook Lopez in every facet of the game. Noah showed why he is unequivocally the heart and soul of the Chicago Bulls. I've often been critical of Noah's inability to finish around the rim. Well, in game 7, Noah made so many difficult layups that he silenced at least one critic. It really was a remarkable display of passion and will. He would not be denied his opportunity to play in the conference semifinals against the Miami Heat.
If his performance wasn't just a first round game 7, it could be discussed as one of the more gritty playoff performances of all-time, when you consider the injury. And the same can be said for the entire Bulls team.
What more can be said about head coach Tom Thibodeau? He just gets results, regardless of who is on the floor. There was a point in the second quarter where the Bulls had Nazr Mohammed, Marquis Teague and Daequan Cook on the floor. Here's the best part--they actually extended their lead.
The Bulls never trailed in the game and led by 17 at the half. The Nets went on a run to start the third quarter and cut the lead to 4. But the Bulls responded with sheer determination and sticktoitiveness. The Nets never got closer than 4 the rest of the game.
Everyone who stepped foot on the court for the Bulls in game 7 made a positive contribution. Marco Belinelli provided so many big fourth quarter baskets and clutch free throws. Jimmy Butler, Nate Robinson and Carlos Boozer all had big moments in a deciding game 7.
For the most part the TNT halftime and postgame show is a battle of who thinks they are funniest. It becomes frustrating to watch sometimes. However, when Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley get serious, they deliver some profound comments. After the game, Barkley talked about Joakim Noah's passion for the game, and said there's so much talent in the league but very little passion. He said he saw no passion in the Nets players.
I couldn't agree more with his overall assessment of today's players. It does appear when you watch a great deal of players today that they don't care. Their body language is awful and the facial expressions makes you believe they would rather be elsewhere doing something that requires less effort. I'm happy Barkley said that. The only negative is it's unlikely to change.
Now the Bulls are playing with the proverbial house money in the next series. Who knows if anyone will return from injury or illness. They may be get swept or lose in 5. The only thing I know is when the series is over, the Heat will know they just battled a team who will not give up regardless of the circumstances.
Very proud night to be a Chicago Bulls fan!!!!!!