So with a whimper, the Chicago Bulls go off quietly into the night. The hapless Bulls didn’t even play on Sunday, but this was still the day that they missed out on the playoffs for the first time since 2008. It doesn’t matter that the Bulls somehow went 7-1 against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors this season. It doesn’t matter that the Bulls sat at home all day Sunday with their fate out of their control.
It all doesn’t matter because the Bulls failed. They failed horribly. With the Indiana Pacers win over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday night, the deal was sealed, and the Bulls will be getting a lottery pick this year, something that was unimaginable back in October.
Now, even last week, I still honestly thought that the Bulls would be on their way to the playoffs. Somehow, I tried to reason with myself, the Bulls would eek their way into the playoffs, maybe make it past the first round if they could get Toronto as their opponent, but then sputter out and be back home before it got too nice out in the city of Chicago. But even that was an unreachable goal. Despite beating Cleveland on Saturday night, the Bulls are 4-6 in their last 10 games, and just seemed to have no real drive for the most part.
Coach Fred Hoiberg couldn’t corral, or even inspire this team. Everyone thought that with Tom Thibodeau out of the picture, the players wouldn’t be pressed so hard into playing their hearts out every night, making themselves tired when the postseason came. Well, the opposite happened, and Hoiberg being the anti-Thibodeau was unable to motivate this team, and should shoulder part of the blame for this unmitigated disaster.
Of course, the front office also shares much of the blame for this failure; the failure of a team that was expected to go deep into the playoffs, and even was thought by some still capable of winning a championship. But let it be noted that I did say at the beginning of the season the Bulls front office hadn’t done enough. No big moves were made, nothing changed from last season, and it was going to come back to bite the Bulls in the rear end. I could never have imagined how right I was. If only I had been wrong, I would’ve been much happier to have had egg on my face in this situation.
Then of course, there are the players. Derrick Rose has sounded off his disbelief in the Bulls recent lack of effort, barring the game against Cleveland of course. Against the Memphis Grizzlies earlier in the week, Jimmy Butler found himself scoreless for the first three quarters of the game, and ended up finishing with only five points in the entire game. Guys like Aaron Brooks and Mike Dunleavy started to go ice cold.
It just seemed like the Bulls had resigned themselves to missing the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons, especially after watching the game against the Grizzlies. Now, the last two games of the season mean nothing. The only question will be if players like Butler and Pau Gasol sit and get rest while Cameron Baristow gets more playing time. These are the big storylines for the last week of the Bulls’ season. And it’s a shame.
I admit that I was feeling like a glass half-empty guy for most of this season, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would get this bad, and the glass would become not just completely devoid of any substance, but utterly shattered.
Last Week: lost to Memphis 108-92; lost to Miami 106-98; defeated Cleveland 105-102.
Next Week: Monday at New Orleans; Wednesday versus Philadelphia.
Who’s Hot: Cristiano Felicio
I guess you could say Felicio has been hot, especially since none of the Bulls’ actual stars have been playing exceptionally well. Felicio scored a career high 16 points in the win against the Cavaliers on Saturday.
Who’s Not: Mike Dunleavy
Really, you could put anybody here in this spot, but Dunleavy has been the most consistently disappointing. Sometimes it just feels like he’s taking up space on the floor, especially when his stat line looks like he was on the bench for most of the game.