I want to say the Bulls quit in Game 1 of their playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets, but you have to show up first.
So, you can’t call them quitters. Call them whatever it is that rolls over and dies before the start of the most important part of the season.
Full marks to the Nets. They played fast and smart.
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Yes, I said smart. One of the dumbest Bulls opponents during the regular season wised up, and I’m as amazed as you are.
The Nets killed the Bulls with a relentless attack in the paint. They destroyed the heart of the Bulls’ game. They exposed a Bulls weakness and kept at it until you wondered if there was a mercy rule.
I knew the Nets were more talented than the Bulls, but I wasn’t sure they were smart enough to pound the banged-up Bulls. In fact, they did.
The Nets went wherever they wanted and did whatever they wanted. They stuck to a game plan that was decisive from the start.
The Bulls were the ones who refused to change things. They might’ve tried, or thought they tried, but they were not defending the game that was there. They weren’t defending much at all, actually. They were inept and inert.
Luol Deng was a disaster. Carlos Boozer had good stats and no clue. Nate Robinson might’ve been the worst idea against Deron Williams ever. Or maybe it was Kirk Hinrich. Marco Belinelli, what do you do for a living? Quick, someone tell Nazr Mohammed he’s a center in the NBA, not a celebrity on “Dancing With The Stars.’’
I could make a case for the Bulls’ roster being too thin, but the Bulls have dealt with injuries and a lack of depth all season and found ways to win. On Saturday they couldn’t find the paint in front of their basket and couldn’t win a possession when it mattered.
The Bulls, not the Nets, turned stupid and stayed that way. I waited for a Bulls comeback because they always find a way to come back against the Nets.
But not Saturday. Not by a Bulls team that got pantsed from the start and stayed that way, refusing to even fake self-respect.
The good news for the Bulls is, the Nets are still capable of playing long stretches of dumb basketball. The bad new is, the Bulls have to help the Nets play that kind of bad basketball.
But the Bulls couldn’t help themselves in Game 1. Wouldn’t help themselves. They refused to defend and rebound. They looked laughably out of place. They were a joke. Bobcats-like.
Unless the Bulls start caring, Game 2 on Monday night will be their last in Brooklyn this season. Hopefully someone Sunday overnighted some spine.