It’s been a very tough 49:09 of basketball for the Chicago Bulls, who finished the regular season with the Eastern Conference’s best record. At the end of Game 1, which the Bulls were winning comfortably, Derrick Rose awkwardly landed after a jump-stop and blew out his ACL, which ended Rose’s season and probably effectively ended the Bulls’ title hopes.
The Bulls, who are more than capable of beating the 76ers without Rose, did their best to come out tough in Game 2, and led 55-47 after the 1st half. However, the 76ers responded by thrashing the Bulls with a 36-14 3rd quarter, and Chicago was never able to recover. Lou Williams and Jrue Holliday, who both struggled in Game 1, absolutely torched Chicago in Game 2, combining to score 46 points on a combined 19-28 shooting from the field, and Evan Turner added 19 points of his own for Philadelphia.
The Bulls certainly didn’t have a bad game offensively, as Joakim Noah (21 points on 10-11 shooting from the field) led their offense to 92 points on 45.2% shooting from the field, which isn’t a bad showing against a top-5 defense like Philadelphia’s, but Tom Thibodeau’s top-ranked defense had few answers for the 76ers, which is odd because Rose is a much more integral part of Chicago’s offensive game plan than he is of their defensive one.
More than anything, Game 2 suggested that losing Rose (and the title hopes that go along with him) may have taken some of the wind out of Chicago’s sails, which is completely understandable. The Bulls have always played each game like it’s their last, with or without Rose, so I’d expect this to be an extremely competitive series that the Bulls still have a great chance of winning, but it looks like the psychological effects of losing a superstar in the first game of the playoffs may be taking their toll on the Bulls sooner rather than later.