Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau has shown the inability to alter not only his rotation but his starting lineup throughout the 2013-14. With the Bulls one game away from elimination at the hands of the Washington Wizards, the starting lineup should be altered as well as the rotation.
Inserting reserves Taj Gibson and D.J. Augustin would give the Bulls an entirely different look, and possibly even get the team off to a better start against the Wizards. In their four games played thus far, the Bulls have trailed in the first quarter in every game. Augustin is averaging 15 points and five assists, while Gibson is averaging nearly 20 points and seven rebounds — including a career-high 32 points in the Game 4 loss.
The Bulls started Game 4 lifeless and lethargic at the Verizon Center. They started the game 0-for-6 on their shots, including two turnovers, while the Wizards went on a 14-0 run. It wasn’t until Gibson entered the game with three minutes left in the first when the Bulls finally showed some kind of life. Gibson went 8-for-8 to start the game, attacked the boards hard, and used his aggression to get to the line. Starting him at power forward in place of Carlos Boozer could provide the Bulls with some energy to start Game 5.
Augustin is the next player that should be placed into the starting lineup for point guard Kirk Hinrich. Although Augustin does not have the size and strength of Hinrich, he does have the speed and quickness to put pressure on Wizards’ guards John Wall and Bradley Beal. Augustin was also the Bulls’ leading scorer during the regular season, so he could give the Bulls a much needed scoring lift to start the next game.
Also, bringing Boozer and Hinrich off of the bench would give the veterans fresh legs in the second half. Hinrich, who has looked sluggish at the end of each game trying to keep up with Wall, would benefit from an extended period on the bench. And Boozer, who has rarely played in fourth quarters as of late, could become a solid post presence late in the game.
The Bulls have officially hit desperation mode, and if changes are not made soon, they will be one of the first teams eliminated from the playoffs.