For the Chicago Bulls, hearing about the Game 4 suspension to Washington Wizards center Nene must’ve been a dream come true. Nene had been a terror for the Bulls to guard against and averaged over 20 points after the first two games. And the only time the Bulls faced the Wizards in the regular season without Nene, Chicago won that game 96-78.
But there would be no repeat blowout for the Bulls in Game 4. Instead, it was the Bulls that showed lack of heart and effort throughout the afternoon. To open the game, the Wizards got off to a 17-2 start, including a trio of 3-point shots from Trevor Ariza. And when Chicago finally got themselves in the game in the second quarter with Bulls down 30-34, the Wizards went on a 21-10 run to close the first half. Washington would later win the game 98-89.
The lone bright-spot for the Bulls came from reserve Taj Gibson. With only a combined 18 points out of starters Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, Gibson scored a career-high 32 points in 32 minutes of play. Game 3 hero Mike Dunleavy came back to earth and only put up six points in 35 minutes before injuring his arm in the fourth quarter.
With the Bulls now on the brink of elimination down 3-1 in the series, it is truly time for head coach Tom Thibodeau to drastically tinker the rotation. Boozer needs to see some fourth-quarter action in order to put the defensive pressure on the Wizards’ big men. Also, veteran backup center Nazr Mohammed has not seen action since Game 2 in Chicago. If nothing else, his six fouls would be useful against the Wizards’ Nene and Marcin Gortat.
Playing guard Jimmer Fredette would also give the Bulls more offensive firepower off of the bench. And if Dunleavy is unable to play in Game 5, Fredette’s outside shooting would definitely be needed in order to properly space the floor on offense.
It’s never good to be down 3-1, especially without a deep rotation and facing a serious inability to score. It is more than likely all over for the Bulls, but if Thibodeau can utilize more players off of the bench, that might be enough to inject new life into Chicago.