Fred Hoiberg of the Chicago Bulls is probably not in the top 20 of NBA coaches, agreed.
Playoff Rondo is now playoff-observer Rondo.
And the Bulls have lost all momentum (whatever that is in the playoffs and especially this series.)
But, respectfully, it’s a mistake to write off the Bulls. Or to start focusing on making plane reservations for games 3 and 4 in Washington or Atlanta. Especially in this case.
There are lots of little reasons. The series is 2-2; the Celtics survived in Chicago, they didn’t end it. The Celtics made adjustments in games 3 and 4, but the Bulls get to do that too, and seem to have found a point guard in Isaiah Canaan. While he’s no playoff Rondo, Canaan was a lot more effective than playoff Grant and playoff Carter-Williams.
Oh, and, Jimmy Butler is still Jimmy Butler. Even if Marcus Smart seems to have gotten under his skin.
The Bizarro Bulls
The big reason is, the strange character of the Bizarro Bulls, as they’re fondly and in some cases not-so-fondly called by many fans.
23 of their 41 wins came against teams with a record of .500 or better. Think about that. Including a sweep of their season series with the Cavs.
Like a lot of veteran teams with multiple stars, and a somewhat jaded mojo, the Bulls played worst when the spotlight was off, or the opponent was weak. They played at their best against superior opponents in spotlight games.
This team had a better record against the Spurs, Warriors, Cavs, Celtics, Wizards, Raptors, Rockets, and Bucks combined than they did against the rest of the league.
And as for adjustments…. now it’s the Bulls’ turn. They have some young bench talent (Zipser, Felicio, Portis) to go with new-starter Canaan that started to gel late in the season.
And finally, they have Fred Hoiberg, who — okay, to paraphrase Will Smith’s James West, we can’t think of much for Hoiberg, but you still got all the other stuff above and that’s somethin’.
In the words of Richard Nixon (tho he may have taken this from Disraeli), “the most dangerous part of any crisis is when it appears to be over.”
Especially with the Bizarro Bulls.