Please don't jump off a bridge tonight. It's a best-of-seven series, win Thursday and this loss just means they blew an opportunity to get a couple extra days of rest. The offense looked terrible tonight, without a doubt. But the defense was still there. The defense was actually probably better in this game than the previous two, Chicago padded their offense with literally about 15 points on completely terrible shots that somehow fell, and still wound up with 77 points and an OFR of 84.58. Calm down. (game capsule).
Here's your rotation chart. The game was lost in the second quarter:
Obviously, I could do without the Iguodala jumpers early in the shot clock. It would be great if these guys could finish through contact (they probably shot about 40% at the rim in this game), but overall, this game wasn't much different from the previous two. They got to the line (24 times tonight, 18 in the second half), they stifled Chicago's offense, they attacked the mismatches late, or at least Jrue did. The main differences were that (a) Thibodeau took one of the mismatches away, completely. And (b) the Bulls hit a bunch of really tough shots at the end of the shot clock. Deng hit three crazy threes, and a bank shot from about 20 feet. Boozer threw the ball up against the backboard as he was falling to the floor, it dropped. There were a couple of others that slipped my mind. That's pretty much it, 15 points or so on desperation shots, out of 77 points total. Those things are going to happen.
If there's something to be worried about, it's that Thibodeau figured out he was better off sacrificing the offense of Korver and Rip to get Ronnie Brewer's defense on the floor and take away one of the mismatches. Brewer played 29 minutes, Korver and Rip combined for only 24, and Brewer's defense was a big reason for the Sixers' offensive struggles. If that's going to be Thibs rotation going forward, Collins needs to find a way to make Brewer's limited offensive game a focal point. I'd say double off him consistently, definitely have whoever's guarding him play like a free safety, hawking the passing lanes for turnovers. Ultimately, I don't think it's a gambit that's going to work. Deng isn't going to hit those crazy shots consistently, and Boozer's production isn't efficient. They can't get enough offense without Rip and/or Korver out there to knock down shots, not that they can really get it with them either.
There's one more troubling thing, but again, it's nothing new and they can win this series despite it. But Elton Brand and Thad gave them absolutely nothing again tonight. Brand and Thad have kind of been stabilizers on the offensive end. Guys they could run a simple play for when they were in a scoring drought. That hasn't been there at all. Not one bit. And they sure could use it. Lou hasn't done a whole lot either.
If you need something to take solace in, even as bad as they played on the offensive end tonight, if they replicate the effort exactly at home, I think the game is a win. And the odds of them being that bad two games in a row are pretty slim. Shake it off, get home and take care of business.
Player of The Game: Jrue put on a clinic on the defensive end for 43 minutes. He gets the nod for that alone, because his 14-point second half was pretty much washed out by his terrible first half offensively.
Series: 3-2 (Iguodala vs. Deng, 1-1-2, tonight, Deng owned him)
Next Game: Thursday night at the WFC.