The nightmarish ride that was the Chicago Bulls postseason has finally come to a merciless end.
After injuries to Chicago's best players robbed the team of any real chance to compete for a title, Bulls fans Thursday night had to suffer through watching the team implode against an inferior Philadelphia 76ers squad.
If losing Derrick Rose in Game 1 made fans sad, the way Chicago went out in Game 6 (after fighting so hard to win) had to infuriate them. Here are a few reasons why:
You never want to point to the referees as the reason for a loss, but the crew the NBA sent for Game 6 makes it hard not to. There were some very questionable calls (and non-calls) in the game all night, but if you watch enough basketball, you come to accept that. But when Spencer Hawes grabbed Omer Asik by the neck trying to foul him with time running down on the clock in the fourth quarter, you expected the refs to at least get that one right. They didn't. Hawes never made a play on the ball and per the NBA rulebook which addresses blows to the head, that foul should've been called a Flagrant “1” which would've given the Bulls two fouls shots and the ball. It was whistled as a two-shot foul instead. Go figure.
The NBA Playoffs this season was supposed to be a year of redemption for Boozer after three rounds of subpar play in last year's postseason. Ultimately it was more of the same for Carlos, whose reputation for flaming out when it matters most is all but etched in stone after Game 6. The NBA is a “what have you done for me lately” league, and even though Boozer played superbly in Games 4 and 5, his 1-11 shooting performance Thursday night in an elimination game will be the one that seals his fate with Bulls fans forever. For a guy that's making $80 million, you expect more out of him than that.
On one hand, you can say that since CJ Watson is a backup, you should temper your expectations in relation to his role. But when D. Rose went down, every man on the roster had to step up. Watson clearly didn't do that against Philadelphia. In the series he shot 14-58 from the field (24 percent) and Game 6 may have been the worst professional outing of his career. All night he took questionable shots and went an abysmal 2-11 on the evening. With the game on the line, the ball in his hands and Philly needing to foul in order to stop the clock, instead of waiting to receive the foul so that he could go to the free-throw line and potentially seal the Bulls' victory, Watson, an 81 percent free-throw shooter, passed off to the aforementioned Asik, a 46 percent free-throw shooter.
The rest is history.