Chicago clung to a one point lead with 12 seconds remaining and possession of the ball. Bulls guard C.J. Watson rushed the ball up court, dishing it to Omer Asik, who was fouled and sent to the line with seven seconds remaining. Asik (a career 48% free throw shooter) missed both and Andre Iguodala grabbed the rebound and drew a foul at the other end, eventually hitting both freebies to give the 76ers a one point lead. With only two seconds remaining, Watson misfired on a half-court heave, a gut-wrenching blow to Bulls fans everywhere.
Philadelphia became only the fifth No. 8 seed to upset a No. 1 seed, finishing off Chicago 4-2 in the series. Iguodala led the 76ers with 20 points and 7 assists, while Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton each had 19 points in the loss. Philadelphia moves on to play the Boston Celtics, who also finished off their series with a win over the Atlanta Hawks Thursday night.
The Bulls dealt with adversity throughout the series, with reigning MVP Derrick Rose tearing his ACL in game 1, followed by a severe ankle injury to Joakim Noah in game 3. Reserves Taj Gibson and Asik played valiantly in place of their center and emotional leader, but the real problem for Chicago was the lack of production from the point guard position. Watson and John Lucas III struggled to run the offense without Rose, resulting in periods with virtually no penetration and poor outside shooting. Rose is expected to miss up to eight months recovering from injury.
Deng, who has been dealing with torn ligaments in his left wrist for a good portion of the year, could also miss significant time next season if he opts to undergo surgery in the offseason. Deng will also play for Great Britain this summer, pushing the timetable for recovery even further back if surgery is necessary.
In addition to several question marks from players next season, coach Tom Thibodeau is reportedly unhappy with his contract situation, which could linger into next year if no deal is reached. Thibodeau came under fire following the injuries to Rose and Noah, and seemed to be out-coached by 76ers Doug Collins for much of the six-game series. The Bulls head into the offseason with a lot of questions, and not a lot of answers. In a whirlwind of a season, Chicago went from title hopefuls to toppled giants. And with their two best players potentially sidelined for a good chunk of next season, changes may be on the horizon for the hard-luck Bulls.