Thursday, May 9, 2013
Game 2 will be Bulls' best motivator Friday
By Scoop Jackson
How will the Bulls respond on Friday after suffering the worst playoff loss in team history in Game 2.
Let me say here what you are already asking yourself: Which Chicago Bulls team are we going to see in Game 3?
A team that had Game 1 won the minute they stepped on the court or the one that lost Game 2 long before the "worst Bulls loss in playoff history" was over?
The difference between what we saw in Games 1 and 2 is actually greater than the 46 points the Bulls found themselves down by at one point in Game 2. And it wasn't as much what the Heat did (shooting 60 percent from the field, having a 20-2 advantage on fast break points, getting 18 points from Norris Cole, scoring 56 points of their 115 points in the paint, etc.) to the Bulls as it was what the Bulls didn't do. They got outrebounded 41-28, shot 35 percent from the field, and got a combined 17 points out of Carlos Boozer and Jimmy Butler.
Or as Taj Gibson so precisely put it: "We lost our composure as a team. Things weren't going our way. You're going to get frustrated, especially when you're getting blown out."
Putting Game 2 behind them will be much easier than we think. Even though the Bulls team that showed up in Miami Wednesday night was a team we'd never really seen before (mentally and characteristically), the 38 extra points they needed to come home with a 2-0 lead will be long forgotten by the time they wake up Friday and prepare to take advantage of the home-court advantage they earned.
But, more important than losing the game, their composure, their cool, their demeanor, their rep for being an extension of Tom Thibodeau's character, was the fact that the Bulls in Game 2 possibly gave the refs the upper hand for the remainder of the series.
The NBA can say whatever it wants about the bipartisan non-objective fairness played by all its officials, but the reality is that referees (in all sports) are a band of brothers no different than police officers, lawyers, teachers unions, congressmen, fraternities, masons or Kardashians.
They stick together. They can develop an "us-against-the-world" attitude just as underdog teams do if they feel the need or if they feel they are being disrespected. It goes both ways. As it should.
The last thing a team relying on a third-string backcourt while trying to hold its own in a playoff series against the defending champs needs is to have the refs as their opponents, too. The Bulls were supposed to be smarter than to have put themselves in this situation. This is just not the "one more thing" they should be worried about. Hopefully the six technicals and two ejections they brought on themselves in the Game 2 loss doesn't carry over to Game 3.
Then there's the "Rumor." Craig Sager gave the "Return of DRose" rumor legs during Game 2's broadcast when he reported that Rose could "possibly" return for Friday's game. That led Charles Barkley and Shaq to further the conversation on-air, saying that Pooh shouldn't return, leading kids and fans Wednesday morning waking up with fake hope screaming, "I heard they said Derrick Rose was coming back Friday." Which could be true. But if not, it is the last thing the Bulls should have to deal with at this time.
The old cliché of a playoff series not beginning until both teams play at home begins now. Of all the underdog teams that established home court-advantage by splitting the first two games in each second-round series, the Bulls are still considered the team least likely to win their series. And that should be the motivation they take with them on the court these next two games.
It's the one thing that will help them put Wednesday night behind them. It's also the easiest way toward promising that we'll never see the team that showed up for Game 2 ever again.