Jrue Holiday: “We Knew What (Bulls) Were Going To Do”
From which you've got three obvious takeaways:
(1) Chicago's playbook is, unequivocally and in no uncertain or twistable terms, clipped without Derrick Rose in the lineup. Don't know if it's like losing a quarterback in football, where you've basically got to perform gastric bypass surgery on the playbook, clipping a hefty portion of it off to allow a cerebrally limited guy can digest enough to be functional, or if it's just a matter of how gameplay shakes out with someone significantly less skilled and speedy and creative running the point. Whatever the case, who cares? That -- if you vest any merit in it -- tells you from a bird's (Bulls'?) eye view that, for realsies, the Bulls can't compete, tactically, the way they do with Rose on the floor.
(2) Even if Chicago is riding with tactical training wheels, that Doug Collins can go toe-to-toe in Xes and Os with Tom Thibodeau -- who's basically emerged as the Bill Belichick of the NBA; really, he's gruff and rigid and mumbles and everything (though he cleans up better) -- is nothing if not remarkable, and booms in the guy's favor when it comes time to mull whether he should be back on the sidelines in 2012-13. What? You thought the guy's job was safe? Oh, you...
(3) Jrue Holiday is cocky. Which, if you've been paying attention, has kind of emerged as his shtick lately. Actually, that endearing smugness is kind of the Sixer Shtick, given that Andre Iguodala -- the only other guy who, as far as newsworthiness goes, is worth interviewing -- plays that up, too. And, no, it doesn't bother us. At all. Never does. So long as he's posting 26 points per game (how he did in Game 2) and not minus-26es (how he did in Game 1). Sixer wins would help on that front, too.
Take it away, you over-confident lush, you (as he did on ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike in the Morning Friday, when asked why the team was so damn efficient in Game 2 Tuesday): "Honestly, I think we started off really hot and started knocking down shots.
"Defensively, for the Bulls, we kinda knew what they were gonna do, know what I mean? Like, their schemes.
"And we really got the shots that we wanted, really efficient shots, shots that we practiced a million times in practice so that we could knock them down in the game."
Shots which they did, at a staggering, mystifying, season-high-smashing clip, 59 percent. Not the least of rests squarely on the curiously narrow and probably (at least if you're talking about ideal size for the spot) inadequate shoulders of Holiday, who rained 11-of-15 from the floor (3-of-3 from distance) and punched a plus-12 on the night.
Though, it's needless to say -- unless you're Mike and Mike, and are professionally, journalistically obliged to dabble in such redundancy -- the Bulls took a pretty hefty emotional blow when Rose's knee went about 1,000 miles per hour faster than the rest of his body on that stomach-turning jump-stop drive in Game 1, and banking on that to linger beyond Game 2 is probably poor bet.
Holiday isn't: "I think (it did). I think it was an emotional game for them, for all of Chicago.
"But we don't expect them to do that again. We expect them to come here and play for a win. So that's how we have to play them. Play them the same way we did last time."
(Note: The "that" there being stinking it up like the most sour, wretched fart you can imagine that, really, only speaks to the engineering ingenuity that, somehow, pumped the stench out. Great vents, there must've been, to spare the masses from rancid nights from Carlos Boozer (4-of-10, 9 points) and Luol Deng (3-of-12, 8 points))
And how does Jrue best expect to swing that? By -- you guessed it! -- owning the boards. Which, yeah, if you peep the Game 2 box, you're reminded that the Sixers on-the-glass edge (38-to-32) wasn't really as sharp as you'd figure for a game in which Philly bigs (Spencer Hawes had three boards, Elton Brand had five) were about as firm as sugar cubes down low. Can't really expect Boozer (four boards), Deng (four boards) and Joakim Noah (eight boars) to crumble like that again.
Holiday doesn't: "Rebounding. I think rebounding is the biggest thing for us.
"I'm pretty sure everybody knows we're kinda like a high-flying team. We like to get stops on defense and kinda show like a highlight reel on offense through fast-breaks and all that.
"If we can get defensive rebounds -- because they have Noah and Boozer and Taj Gibson. So if we can get out and rebound, I think we're good."
Though, I think he means that in reverse, which is to say if the team can board and run -- the way they did with 25 fast-break points (Bulls had eight) and 52 points in the paint (Bulls had 32) -- he thinks they're good.
A point with which we'd pointedly agree.
(This article was written by Matt Hammond, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)