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NBA Playoffs: 76ers take 3-1 series lead over depleted Bulls

May 6, 2012, 4:22 PM EDT

Spencer Hawes

You’ve gotta feel for the Chicago Bulls right now. After going 50-16 in the regular season to secure the Eastern Conference’s best record, the Bulls watched their best player tear his ACL with just over a minute remaining in Game 1 of the series, and Game 3 saw Joakim Noah go down with an ankle injury.

Needless to say, this isn’t the same team that made the Eastern Conference Finals last season or had the conference’s best record this year, and they didn’t look like it on Saturday afternoon. Without Rose, the Bulls don’t seem to have any ideas on how to get by Philadelphia’s top-5 ranked defense, and the team shot just 40% from the field on Saturday, while only making 3 shots from beyond the arc and 11 free throws. The Bulls’ game plan seemed to be to force-feed Carlos Boozer and hope for the best, but Boozer needed 24 shots to get his 23 points, which the 76ers were happy to live with.

Meanwhile, with Noah out of the lineup, 76ers center Spencer Hawes was able to have an absolute field day. Hawes had 22 points on just 11 shots, which is a big reason the 76ers were able to win despite the fact that Lou Williams, Jrue Holiday, and Evan Turner combined to shoot just 12-45 from the field.

The Bulls are obviously in dire straights — even if Noah comes back for Game 5, the Bulls are going to have a very hard time winning this series, and even if they manage to escape the 8th-seeded 76ers, it’s pretty clear their odds of advancing much further without Rose are slim to none. Meanwhile, the 76ers’ defense is looking as good as advertised, and it looks like they have a great chance of being the 1st team to beat a 1-seed in the 1st round since the 2007 Warriors, although the 76ers’ win will certainly come with a pretty big asterisk attached to it.

  1. hwatt - May 6, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    what the heck did you just start covering the nba this year? The #8 Grizzlies took out the #1, injury-depleted Spurs last year. You should be writing about what a weird coincidence this happened in the league two years in a row, both times with the 1 seed being down two starters.

    • dannymac17 - May 6, 2012 at 8:07 PM

      Well said.

  2. tfoz5150 - May 6, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    You can keep your asterisk

  3. dennisund - May 6, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    I believe you mean Sunday.

  4. eternalfan - May 6, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    boozer is hideously bad, don’t know why bulls sacrifice his invisble defense for his overrated offense. taj playing much better, they would have a chance if he started. not that I’m complaining as a 6er fan.

  5. kvanhorn87 - May 6, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    I love how just a few days ago, the Bulls were a lock to still beat the Sixers. They were 18-9 without Rose all year. A much better winning percentage than the Sixers had. My only point is that your last paragraph or so makes it seem that without DRose the Bulls stink. I acknowledge that without Noah the Bulls have no shot. Let’s keep it in perspective, the bulls are 1-0 with Rose, 0-1 with Noah, And 0-2 without DRose and Noah (he played 3/4 of game 3). With the bulls record without DRose, they should have still won game 2 and dominated game 3. Game 4 was a layup for the Sixers granted. Just don’t pretend that EVERY single expert did not say the Bulls would still beat the Sixers in 5 or 6 games. That isn’t fair to this young team’s accomplishments.

  6. pudgalvin - May 6, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    2 shooting fouls committed by the Sixers over the final 29 minutes of the game, Dick Bavetta doesn’t know what a kicked ball violation is (hint: it’s not when a player is saving the ball from going out of bounds and throws it off a player’s leg who is lying on the ground), and the Sixers had 13 more free throw attempts than the Bulls before the Bulls started fouling at the end. The Bulls lost 2 and 3 on their own; they had plenty of help in losing game 4.

    • tfoz5150 - May 6, 2012 at 5:09 PM

      Plenty of bad calls to go around in this game (see Evan Turner drives late.) Also what was up with the clock around the 20 sec. mark. It was like they added time or something. Wasn’t a kicked ball either, it was just off the bulls.

      • pudgalvin - May 6, 2012 at 5:47 PM

        They most certainly did call a kicked ball on Watson. Taj had it, it never went out of bounds. That was Bulls ball until Bavetta called the violation. Check the play by play. The other call I can’t get over is Boozer getting pancaked on one end with no call and Williams getting a call on the other with a quarter of the contact. How was only one of those a foul?

        Sixers have now shot 30+ free thows in 3 of 4 games to the Bulls not getting more than 24 in any game despite the fact the Philly has two more shots in the paint than the Bulls over the course of the series. I don’t even care about the other games; the Bulls were just as aggressive as the Sixers this game, and as I said, received TWO shooting fouls from the the 5 minute mark of the secnod to the end of the game. That’s tough to swallow in a game where the Bulls played pretty well without 2 starters.

      • tfoz5150 - May 6, 2012 at 6:58 PM

        Hey we went through an entire season getting the fewest calls. FINALLY our guys are driving the hoop. That’s the answer. You have to draw contact. When Rose went down that was your driver. The rest of your guys are spot up shooters or low post players.

      • pudgalvin - May 6, 2012 at 8:02 PM

        That’s just it though. Today, the Bulls were aggressive on the offensive and defensive end, something they weren’t in the last 2 games. Lou got knocked on his ass 5 different times driving to the basket and got 1 free throw out of it. One team was allowed to be physical all game on defense, the other was not.

    • b7p19 - May 6, 2012 at 5:21 PM

      Yeah, and to add to your fantastic analysis, there was not a single bad call that went against the Sixers. Poor Bulls.

  7. qwest12 - May 6, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    I think it’s crazy how any thinks that the bulls are ever going to do anything in the playoffs, their second best player is? Sometimes boozer, sometimes Noah, they are just like the caves were with Kenton, young so they make good runs in reg season but they don’t have the firepower even with rose.

  8. mungman69 - May 6, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    Tell the writer that the game was played on SUNDAY. At least we didn’t have to put up with Matt Moore’s garbage.

  9. blacc24 - May 6, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    At the end of the day the sixers and heat will both benefit from the damn injury bug. Sixers would have definitely lost and The Heat now have a cake walk to the finals. The question is who takes them out Spurs or Thunder ?

  10. ihateclevelandandphillyandbaltimore - May 6, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    Bulls weren’t going to win the whole thing anyway, there only purpose was to push the heat, and to basically get them ready to lose in the finals again.

  11. eagles512 - May 6, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    Refs weren’t good either way. If you want to list specific calls against the Bulls, then what about Turner getting hacked like crazy on one end without a call and then them calling his 4th and 5th fouls on ticky tack calls on the Bulls next possession.

    • pudgalvin - May 6, 2012 at 6:46 PM

      33 free throws to 14. That is all.

      • borderline1988 - May 6, 2012 at 8:07 PM

        You can argue about a few calls here and there. But the idea that somehow the refs were on the 76ers side is ridiculous (you can’t explain a 33 to 14 difference unless you’re arguing outright conspiracy)
        A more likely explanation is that Rose is the only Bulls player who can put the ball on the floor and drive, and he’s injured. Meanwhile, the 76ers literally might have the biggest number of playmakers in the league (holiday, turner, iguodala, williams and young are all capable of putting the ball on the floor and driving).

        Just give them credit. The Bulls are simply a weaker team than the 76ers without Rose. Nothing to be ashamed of – Rose is an MVP type player.

      • pudgalvin - May 6, 2012 at 8:25 PM

        Oh, I think you can certainly argue ineptitude on the part of the officials. (See kicked ball violation on CJ Watson) Like I said above, the Sixers have way out shot the Bulls in free throws in three other games and I didn’t think it was a big deal. This game, they absolutely wouldn’t call shooting fouls on the sixers. The Bulls had two more shots in the paint than the Sixers did, so don’t tell me they weren’t getting to the basket.

        I don’t think it was any kind of conspiracy. I think the officials were wildly inconsistant today and it greatly benefited the Sixers. You can’t tell me that Lou Williams deserved to get that foul to put them up four and Boozer shouldn’t have gotten a call the play before that could have tied it. That’s the horrible officiating I’m talking about.

        I’ll give the sixers all the credit in the world for games 2 and 3, they flat out beat the Bulls. This game, the Bulls played well enough to win, and the refs handicapped them.

      • tfoz5150 - May 6, 2012 at 8:37 PM

        C’mon man. The calls go both ways. The sixers have been on the short end of that stick all year. Let the players play.

      • pudgalvin - May 6, 2012 at 8:48 PM

        Right, that’s great if your team got to shoot 33 free throws. My team got to shoot 14. One team’s players got to play.

  12. dirtybird2020 - May 6, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    East conference got lucky by default! Im teady to watch the bears now, i hope bulls can give more next game

  13. mungman69 - May 6, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    Bulls aren’t going anywhere.

  14. asublimeday - May 6, 2012 at 7:43 PM

    The sixers remain a joke. It’s hilarious how excited their fans are for these asterisk wins.

    • jblah - May 6, 2012 at 7:54 PM

      dude whats your problem? the sixers are a young team. no one including myself expect them to win it all. whats wrong with being excited about wins? Are you saying that you wouldn’t be excited to win in the playoffs regardless of which team you are playing?

      • tfoz5150 - May 6, 2012 at 8:35 PM

        that dudes a troll

  15. crayzeeguy - May 6, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    Why in every other major sport teams win playoff games and championships without key players all the time, but when it comes to the NBA, an injury is an excuse to lose and put an asterisk next to it?

  16. mungman69 - May 6, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    It’s not the Sixers fault that the Bulls stink.

  17. phillynac - May 6, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    You have to go to the hoop to get free throws. The bulls do not take the ball to the basket. Therefore they don’t get as many free throws. It is very simple.

    • pudgalvin - May 6, 2012 at 8:45 PM

      2 more shots in the paint than the Sixers today. What else ya got?

      • tfoz5150 - May 6, 2012 at 10:41 PM

        Sixers play great defense

  18. jumbossportsblog - May 6, 2012 at 9:02 PM

    Reblogged this on jumbossportsblog.

  19. sloiggles - May 6, 2012 at 9:28 PM

    Didn’t realize that the Bulls were 1-0 without Rose. Only Filthy fans. thank god I’m only an Eagles fan…otherwise I’d push the button myself to nuke that hellhole.

  20. phillynac - May 6, 2012 at 10:38 PM

    What else do I got? A 3-1 lead. See ya next season Bulls fans.

  21. phillynac - May 6, 2012 at 10:49 PM

    I love how the Bulls win 50 games during the regular season and they were “fair and square.”. They lose 3 games in the playoffs and all of a sudden the refs are against them. What a bunch of whiners. You built your team around one player. That is the risk you take when you don’t have a team. Sorry. Maybe D Rose wont get hurt next year…but don’t count on it.

    • williegault - May 7, 2012 at 10:02 AM

      Pretty sure the following players would all start on Philly –

      Deng (Iguodala would slide over to the 2)

      Maybe even Hamilton…

      • jblah - May 7, 2012 at 12:21 PM

        why? they are only 3 – 1 against the “starters” for the sixers.

      • jblah - May 7, 2012 at 12:22 PM


      • williegault - May 7, 2012 at 2:17 PM

        Why? How about because they are better.

        I forgot to add in Asik and Gibson, who would certainly start on the 76ers.

        Either way, it’s a stupid discussion. I was simply confirming that the Bulls “don’t have a team” comment was idiotic.

        The Bulls are playing like crap.. Mentally, they have quit.

        I just hope they lose the next one so I can start looking forward to next season.


  22. 420hippy - May 7, 2012 at 12:13 AM

    funny that without rose or noah the sixers can barely win..

    • jblah - May 7, 2012 at 7:47 AM

      funny…with rose they split the series during the regular season.
      funny…most of the sixers players are 24 yrs of age or younger
      funny…people were all claiming that the bulls were 18-9 without rose
      funny…how the sixers are up 3 – 1 regardless of the score :)

      • 420hippy - May 13, 2012 at 6:30 PM

        dont be mad cuz u kno ur team is not nearly on tthe level of the bulls when completely healthy and yea rose is 23

      • 420hippy - May 13, 2012 at 6:30 PM

        dont be mad cuz u kno ur team is not nearly on tthe level of the bulls when completely healthy and yea rose is 23

      • jblah - May 14, 2012 at 6:57 AM

        no need to be mad. we are already beyond the bulls.

  23. mungman69 - May 7, 2012 at 12:24 AM

    Too much crying by Bulls fans. Man up.

  24. philly71198 - May 7, 2012 at 12:41 AM


  25. gmsingh - May 7, 2012 at 7:25 AM

    This series will be decided by the refs, just like the series with the Heat last year was. The NBA stands to make much more money if the Heat are in the finals again, so obviously keeping Chicago from advancing is part of that recipe. You could compile play after play where Bulls get hacked by the Sixers and there are no calls. Yesterday it was most obvious near the end of the game where Boozer went up for a shot and got hit in the head by two guys and there was no call. The Bulls, of course, got called for a foul on the other end of the court. Mike Tirico was confused by the whole thing, and who wouldn’t be? The NBA, under David Stern, is as corrupt as MLB is under Bud Selig and his ‘roid popping band of gorillas.

    • tcclark - May 7, 2012 at 8:11 AM

      Wow. I might believe that the Sixers winning was a big NBA conspiracy if the Bulls still had any chance of beating Miami, but they don’t. Do you realize that Rose isn’t coming back? Philadelphia actually has a better chance at beating Miami at this point.

      Quit being such a homer and crying about the refs. Yes the Boozer call was a missed call. The Ball was originally blocked by Hawes, but he was completely hacked after the block. The “kicked ball” call was also a mistake, but if you had watched the game without your red colored glasses on you would’ve seen a number of missed calls on the opposite end of the floor as well. If Evan Turner was Dwayne Wade, he probably would’ve gotten about 30 free throws yesterday. The kid was hacked up and down the floor. Not to mention Iguodala getting hacked at the end of the third quarter.

      Frankly, I doubt the NBA cares very much about this series at this point. Neither of these teams have much of a chance of advancing very far, let alone beating Miami.

      • gmsingh - May 7, 2012 at 3:43 PM

        Kewl, you managed to successfully comment on the Sixers series, but didn’t seem to muster the brain power to comment on the Heat series from last year. If you want to do a play by play analysis of all the playoff basketball with the Heat and the Bulls from this year and last, go for it. What you’ll find is questionable calls and non-calls continuously affecting the outcome of games. Let me guess, you thought the steroid era in baseball was an oversight as well? These are multi-billion dollar industries-they don’t give a crap about adhering to the rules when that much money is involved. You know, kind of like Wall Street.

      • tcclark - May 8, 2012 at 6:23 AM

        You mean the series last year that the Bulls lost 4-1 WITH DERRICK ROSE? I don’t think you’re mustering the brain power to comprehend the fact that you don’t have Derrick Rose. The Chicago Bulls have next to zero chance of beating Miami so the NBA has no reason to care about this series. I honestly doubt that Big David Stern got on the phone to tell the refs to make sure that the Roseless Bulls didn’t make it past the first round.

        If you want to talk about a series from last year or the “steroid era in baseball” go right ahead because neither of those things have anything to do with 2012. Youre just digging up excuses for why you’re losing and it’s pretty pathetic. I hate the Miami Heat more than most people, but I’m not going to go out and say that the only reason they made it to the finals last year was because multi-billionaires decided they wanted Miami to get there. And what, did David Stern forget to tell the refs to swallow their whistles in the Finals or were the Mavericks just so good that they were able to be the Miami Heat and the NBA? Be real and take off your aluminum hat. Your team wasn’t good enough last year and this year they had serious injury issues. It’s unfortunate, but get over it

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