Bulls Show 85: Doubt & Defeat

Nillz & Ricky sound off on what went wrong with the Bulls, underestimating the Wizards, and the excitement of the NBA Playoffs. Let’s just say this probably won’t be the favorite episode of the Hinrich & Boozer families, but while we express our disappointment and frustration, it’s not all bad news because hey – we’re potentially on the cusp of the 2014 Plan!


The GWHH Definitive Guide to the Post-MJ/Scottie Bulls Postseasons (Pt. 2 of 2)

If you missed Part 1 of my 2005-2013 Bulls Playoff Guide, click here. Let’s keep it rolling with a few other categories, starting with…

The Best 2005-2013 Bulls Single Game Playoff Performances

Let’s break this down All-NBA style.

1st TEAM

GUARD – Derrick Rose, 2011 second round, Game 3 @ Atlanta (box score)

Bulls 99, Hawks 82 — Rose: 44 points, 7 assists, 5 boards

Rose has had a few great postseason performances, but this one is the tops because…

* It’s his career high in points.

* It gave the Bulls a 2-1 series lead.

* It was a road win.

* The Bulls won the series.

* He was efficient: shot 59% from the floor, 57% from three, missed one free throw out of nine, committed two turnovers and one foul.


“He’s tough to cover anyway. But when his jump shot is falling, he’s the MVP.” — Hawks point guard Jeff Teague

“I just wanted to get my groove back. Knock it down. That’s all I was trying to do.” — Derrick Rose

GUARD – Nate Robinson, 2014 first round, Game 4 vs. Brooklyn (box score)

Bulls 142, Nets 134 — Robinson: 34 points off the bench and the game’s high scorer

You could take either of my second team guard performances here and I wouldn’t argue too much. Nate gets the call for me because, again, the Bulls won the game and the series. The runner he nailed to give the Bulls a two-point lead with 1.7 left in the first overtime finished a stretch of 27 points in 15 minutes. (My postgame column.)


“I always think I’m on fire, kind of like the old school game NBA Jam. You make a couple in a row, the rim’s on fire. You shoot the ball, the ball’s on fire. I feel like that at times — all the time. Whenever I’m in the game, I just play with a lot of confidence. You kind of have to lie to yourself and feel like you can’t miss.” — Nate Robinson

FORWARD – Luol Deng, 2007 first round, Game 1 vs. Heat (box score)

Bulls 96, Heat 91 — Deng: career playoff high 33 points on 64% shooting, 8 rebounds

After missing the playoffs his rookie year and averaging only 10 points per game in the 2006 playoff loss to the Heat, Luol Deng — the team’s second leading scorer in 2007 at 18.8 ppg — broke out in Game 1 with 33 points in the Bulls’ five-point win over Miami. I touched on the impact of this performance in Part 1, and unfortunately there isn’t a good highlight reel of this game online, so here is a compilation of Bulls highlights in the four-game sweep:


“This game was really big. Now that we have the lead, most of the time the team that loses has to adjust. We did a lot of things today that worked for us.” – Luol Deng

FORWARD – John Salmons, 2009 first round, Game 6 vs. Celtics (box score)

Bulls 128, Celtics 127 — Salmons: team-high 35 points on 59% shooting and five threes… played a game-high 60 of 63 minutes

Though everyone remembers Joakim Noah first and probably Derrick Rose second, the unsung, under appreciated Bulls hero of the classic triple overtime Game 6 win over the Celtics was John Salmons, who scored 16 points in the first quarter en route to a team-high 35. He was clutch late, too, with 14 points combined in the fourth quarter and the three overtimes. He’s one of seven Bulls since 1986 to hit at least five threes in a playoff game.


“As tired as I am, I won’t be able to sleep.” — John Salmons

CENTER – Joakim Noah, 2013 first round, Game 7 @ Nets (box score)

Bulls 99, Nets 93 — Noah: 24 points on 71% shooting, 14 rebounds, 6 blocks

The greatest playoff game Joakim Noah ever played — and I’ll include his 2006 national championship game with Florida vs. UCLA. Noah played Game 7 in Brooklyn practically on one foot. It was one of those defining “he-would-not-let-his-team-lose” games.


“Noah, like I said, he’s a warrior. He battled through his injuries and just had a monster game. We really had no answers for him down low tonight.” — Deron Williams

“I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.” — Joakim Noah

2nd TEAM

GUARD – Ben Gordon, 2009 first round, Game 2 @ Boston (box score)

Celtics 118, Bulls 115 — Gordon: 42 points on 58% shooting and six threes

Gordon’s most memorable moment of the series came two games later when he hit a game-tying three at the end of double overtime in Game 4 and proceeded to grab his junk, but his 42-point performance in Game 2 and the shootout with fellow former UConn guard Ray Allen was the best all-around game.


“It felt like we were at UConn in the summertime playing pickup. (Allen) is a great shooter and I knew he would break out eventually.” — Ben Gordon

GUARD – Derrick Rose, 2009 first round, Game 1 @ Boston (box score)

Bulls 105, Celtics 103 — Rose: 36 points, 11 assists in playoffs debut

Doesn’t get much more electric than a 20-year-old rookie point guard leading a .500 club to an overtime Game 1 road win over the defending champs by scoring 36 points and tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s rookie playoff debut scoring record. No, no it doesn’t.


“(Rose is) poised beyond his years. He already carries himself like a veteran out there. He had a phenomenal game tonight, to say the least.” — Ben Gordon

“I hope this is a wake-up call. I hope we realize that the Bulls, they’re not just a team that’s happy to be in the playoffs. So hopefully the guys will wake up and realize this is reality. We’ve better come to play.” — Paul Pierce

FORWARD – Andres Nocioni, 2005 first round, Game 1 vs. Wizards (box score)

Bulls 103, Wizards 94 — Nocioni: 25 points and 18 rebounds in his playoffs debut

It wasn’t quite Rose’s 36-11, but Andres Nocioni’s 25-18 in his playoffs debut — while starting in place of the injured Deng — was brilliant. Unfortunately, I can’t find video. Fortunately, I wrote about it here.


“We played a great game, but it’s just one game. I need to forgot this game and think (about) the next game.” – Andres Nocioni

FORWARD – Jimmy Butler, 2013 first & second round, Game 6 vs. Nets, Game 7 @ Nets, Game 1 @ Heat (box scores)

Butler: three straight 48-minute games

I’m cheating a bit here and taking Jimmy Butler’s streak last year of three consecutive 48-minute playoffs games. He’s the only Bulls player since 1986 with such a streak, and he did it while defending Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and LeBron James.


“It’s all about being tough. We’re always going to be the underdogs and we take pride in that. Everybody can overlook us, but we feel like we’re good enough to hang with a lot of these teams.” — Jimmy Butler, following the Bulls’ Game 1 win over the Heat

CENTER – Joakim Noah, 2010 first round, Game 4 vs. Cavaliers (box score)

Cavaliers 121, Bulls 98 — Noah: 21 points, 20 rebounds

This performance was completely obscured by LeBron’s domination, but hot damn, gotta give love for Noah’s 21-20. It was — and is — only the third 20+ rebound game in a Bulls playoffs game since 1986.


“I just think we weren’t very tough mentally today. We were playing good ball and then just collapsed. We’re a young team and have to learn from this.” — Joakim Noah

3rd TEAM

GUARD – Ben Gordon, 2005 first round, Game 1 vs. Wizards (box score)

Bulls 103, Wizards 94 — Gordon: 30 points off the bench

Nocioni was the game’s star — the United Center crowd’s “No-ci-o-ni!” cheer was never louder — but Gordon was the team’s leading scorer. His 30 points were a Bulls playoff record for a reserve until Nate Robinson.

Since I can’t find footage from this game, here is Ben’s final playoff game as a Bull, which probably looked pretty similar to his first one:

GUARD – Derrick Rose, 2011 first round, Game 1 vs. Pacers (box score)

Bulls 104, Pacers 99 — Rose: 39 points, 6 boards, 6 assists, 19 of 21 free throws

Rose kicked off the postseason of his MVP year with 39 points, including an 11-point 1st quarter. With the Pacers trying to play spoiler — they entered the 4th quarter up eight — Rose kept the Bulls in the hunt until he took over in the final two minutes: the Bulls closed out on a 10-0 run, Derrick scored 7 of the 10 and assisted Kyle Korver on a three-pointer that gave the Bulls a lead they never lost.

FORWARD – Luol Deng, 2007 second round, Game 4 vs. Pistons (box score)

Bulls 102, Pistons 87 — Deng: 25 points on 10-15 shooting, 13 rebounds

With the Bulls in danger of being swept, Deng led an all-around Bulls effort with a game-high 25 points. No footage on youtube for this one, so here’s a different clip of Luol whipping Detroit this season:

FORWARD – Carlos Boozer, 2013 first round, Game 3 vs. Brooklyn (box score)

Bulls 79, Nets 76 — Boozer: 22 points, 16 rebounds

Boozer has been much maligned throughout his Bulls career, primarily as a result of his after-thought status as a 2010 free agent prize combined with his defensive unprowess and the U.C.’s love of his backup Taj Gibson. But Booz has his moments, among them in Game 3 of last year’s Nets series.

CENTER – Brad Miller, 2009 first round, Game 6 vs. Celtics (box score)

Bulls 128, Celtics 127 — Miller: 23 points, 10 rebounds

After getting emasculated by Rondo in Game 5…

…Brad Miller was an efficient stud in Game 6: 23 points on 8 of 9 shooting, two of two from three, five of five from the line, 10 boards, two blocks.

We posted full Game 6 highlights in Part 1, so here’s Brad Miller hitting a key three in the 4th quarter:


Kirk Hinrich, 2005 first round, Game 2 vs. Wizards (box score)

Bulls 113, Wizards 103 — Hinrich: 34 points on 80% shooting including 5 for 5 from three

Captain Kirk’s finest playoff hour was the team’s last win of their magical 2005 season. With the team up 12 in the 4th quarter, Hinrich scored eight straight points on two threes and a layup to give the Bulls a 20 point lead. When Gilbert Arenas (39 points) went on a run of his own to cut the lead to six, Hinrich hit a three and bagged two foul shots to give the Bulls their final needed breathing room.

Now footage to be found on Game 2, so here’s Kirk in Game 1:

Jannero Pargo, 2005 first round, Game 5 vs. Wizards (box score)

Wizards 112, Bulls 110 — Pargo: 9 points on three 3s in the final minute

Pargo nearly single-handedly pulled off an upset for the ages when he hit three 3s in the final minute of a furious Game 5 comeback — only to watch Gilbert Arenas drop the Bulls at the buzzer.


GUARD – Ray Allen, 2009 first round, Game 6 (box score)

If not for his team’s loss, this 51-point game would be more highly regarded on Ray’s resume.

GUARD – Gilbert Arenas, 2005 first round, Game 5 (box score)

Arenas was better in Games 2 (39 points), 3 (32, 7 and 7) and 4 (23, 6 and 5), but his supreme confidence in his abilities led to one of the all-time most devastating postseason game-winners the Bulls have ever suffered.

BONUS GUARD – Rajon Rondo, 2009 first round — the whole series (stats)

Can’t pick just one game — Rondo was masterful in the entire series. He averaged a triple double until Game 7, and still finished close to one: 19.4 points (third on the team), 11.6 assists (first), 9.3 boards (second) plus 2.7 steals (first). Bagged triple doubles in Games 2 and 4. Also made the game-saving foul on Miller in Game 5 and set the tone against Rose.

FORWARD – LeBron James, 2010 First Round, Game 4 (box score)

Like Rondo in 2009, it’s tough to single out one game for LeBron in this 2010 series. He was scorching: 31.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 8.2 assists on shooting percentages of 56.7%, 54.2% and 72.0%. I’ll take his monstrous Game 4 though: 37 points, 12 boards, 11 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 64.7% from the floor, 6 of 9 from three.

Since his Game 4 highlights are in Part 1, here are his Game 2 highlights. They’re, um, pretty good too:

FORWARD – LeBron James, 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 5

For the second straight year, LeBron was the difference in a series vs. the Bulls. He was great throughout, but turned it up a notch in Game 5, particularly down the stretch, both offensively and defensively against Rose.

CENTER – Shaquille O’Neal, 2006 First Round, Game 6

As mentioned in Part 1, Shaq pulled out a Vintage Shaq game in Game 6, with 30 points on an array of unstoppable oops from Dwyane Wade. He also grabbed 20 boards. Go to sleep Bulls. Go to sleep.



Not much to say on these… I’ll let the dunks do the talking.

GUARD – Derrick Rose, 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 4

GUARD – Derrick Rose, 2011 second round, Game 3

FORWARD – Taj Gibson, 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 1

FORWARD – Tyrus Thomas, 2007 first round, Game 1

CENTER – Joakim Noah, 2009 first round, Game 6



Games Started

43 — Joakim Noah

42 — Luol Deng

34 — Carlos Boozer

31 — Kirk Hinrich

29 — Derrick Rose

24 — Ben Gordon

16 — Keith Bogans

12 — Andres Nocioni, Jimmy Butler

10 — P.J. Brown, Ben Wallace

7 — John Salmons, Tyrus Thomas

6 — Antonio Davis, Othella Harrington, Mike Sweetney, Malik Allen, Richard Hamilton

5 — Chris Duhon, Taj Gibson, C.J. Watson

3 — Omer Asik


PPG (full leaders)

Derrick Rose, 2011, 16 games, 27.1 ppg

Derrick Rose, 2010, 5 games, 26.8

Ben Gordon, 2009, 7 games, 24.3

Andres Nocioni, 2006, 6 games, 22.3

Luol Deng, 2007, 10 games, 22.2

RPG (full leaders)

Joakim Noah, 2009, 7 games, 13.1 rpg

Joakim Noah, 2010, 5 games, 13.0

Joakim Noah, 2011, 16 games, 10.2

Carlos Boozer, 2012, 6 games, 9.8

Carlos Boozer, 2011, 16 games, 9.7

APG (full leaders)

Derrick Rose, 2011, 16 games, 7.7 apg

Kirk Hinrich, 2006, 6 games, 7.7

Kirk Hinrich, 2007, 10 games, 7.5

Derrick Rose, 2010, 5 games, 7.2

Derrick Rose, 2009, 7 games, 6.4

BPG (full leaders)

Tyrus Thomas, 2009, 7 games, 2.9 bpg

Joakim Noah, 2013, 12 games, 2.2

Tyson Chandler, 2005, 6 games, 2.2

Joakim Noah, 2009, 7 games, 2.1

Joakim Noah, 2011, 16 games, 2.1

SPG (full leaders)

Kirk Hinrich, 2005, 6 games, 2.0 spg

Kirk Hinrich, 2013, 4 games, 2.0

Joakim Noah, 2010, 5 games, 1.8

Kirk Hinrich, 2009, 7 games, 1.7

Luol Deng, 2011, 16 games, 1.5



Derrick Rose, 2011 second round Game 3, 44 points

Ben Gordon, 2009 first round Game 2, 42 points

Derrick Rose, 2011 first round Game 1, 39 points

Derrick Rose, 2009 first round Game 1, 36 points

Derrick Rose, 2011 first round Game 2, 36 points

30+ points

Derrick Rose, 8 games

Ben Gordon, 4 games

John Salmons, Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson, Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni, 1 game


Joakim Noah, 2010 first round Game 4, 20 rebounds

Andres Nocioni, 2005 first round Game 1, 18 rebounds

Noah (x2), Ben Wallace, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, 17 rebounds

15+ rebounds

Joakim Noah, 8 games

Carlos Boozer, 3 games

Andres Nocioni, 2 games

Ben Wallace, Luol Deng, 1 game


Kirk Hinrich, 2013 first round Game 4, 14 assists

Kirk Hinrich, 2007 second round Game 5, 13 assists

Derrick Rose, 2011 second round Game 6, 12 assists

Hinrich (x2), Rose, Ben Gordon, 11 assists

10+ assists

Derrick Rose, 8 games

Kirk Hinrich, 5 games

C.J. Watson, Ben Gordon, 1 game


Joakim Noah, 2013 first round Game 7, 6 blocks

Tyrus Thomas, 2009 first round Game 2, 6 blocks

Joakim Noah, 2011 second round Game 3, 5 blocks

Joakim Noah, 2013 first round Game 6, 5 blocks

4+ blocks

Joakim Noah, 7 games

Taj Gibson, 3 games

Tyrus Thomas, 2 games

Tyson Chandler, 1 game


Tyrus Thomas, 2007 second round Game 5, 5 steals

Luol Deng, 2011 second round Game 6, 5 steals

4+ steals

Luol Deng, 3 games

Rose, Hinrich, 2 games

Thomas, Butler, P.J. Brown, 1 games


Nate Robinson, 2013 first round Game 4, 34 points

Ben Gordon, 2005 first round Game 1, 30 points

Ben Gordon, 2005 first round Game 5, 27 points

Brad Miller, 2009 first round Game 6, 23 points

Tyson Chandler, 2005 first round Game 5, 22 points

15+ point games off the bench

Kirk Hinrich, 3 games

Chandler, Gordon, Miller, Robinson, 2 games

Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni, Jannero Pargo, John Lucas, Tyrus Thomas, Richard Hamilton 1 game


Tyson Chandler, 2005 first round Game 4, 13 rebounds

Brad Miller, 2009 first round Game 1, 12 rebounds

Taj Gibson, 2012 first round Game 4, 12 rebounds

Tyson Chandler, 2005 first round Game 6, 11 rebounds

Taj Gibson, 2011 second round Game 3, 11 rebounds

10+ rebounds off the bench

Chandler, 4 games

Gibson, Miller, 2 games


Kirk Hinrich, 2009 first round Game 6, 7 assists

C.J. Watson, 2011 first round Game 5, 7 assists

Chris Duhon, 2007 second round Game 2, 6 assists

5+ assists off the bench

Watson, 3 games

Ben Gordon, 2 games

Hinrich, Duhon, 1 game

LEADERS BY YEAR (points, rebounds, assists)

2005 – Hinrich 21.2, Chandler 9.7, Hinrich 5.8

2006 – Nocioni 22.3, Nocioni 8.8, Hinrich 7.7

2007 – Deng 22.2, Wallace 9.5, Hinrich 7.5

2009 – Gordon 24.3, Noah 13.1, Rose 6.4

2010 – Rose 26.8, Noah 13.0, Rose 7.2

2011 – Rose 27.1, Noah 10.2, Rose 7.7

2012 – Noah* 15.0, Boozer 9.8, Watson* 5.5

2013 – Boozer 16.4, Boozer/Noah 9.6, Hinrich 5.8


Jack M Silverstein is a staff writer for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. Say hey @readjack.

The GWHH Definitive Guide to the Post-MJ/Scottie Bulls Postseasons (Pt. 1 of 2)

It’s Saturday morning as I write this, a sunny, somewhat warm Chicago day, meaning Joakim Noah won’t have to worry about snow much longer.

(And shout out to my dude Bryan Crawford for telling Noah about the snow.)

More importantly, we’re less than 36 hours away from tip-off of Bulls-Wizards Game 1, a series that makes the Bulls one of five teams to have nine postseason trips in the past ten years. (The others? The Spurs, Heat, Mavericks and Nuggets.)

Yes, it was nine years ago this week that the Bulls began their first postseason since John Stockton’s three-pointer clanked hopelessly off the Delta Center rim in 1998. After five last-place division finishes in six seasons (they finished third-from-last with a 30-win 2003), the Bulls won 45 games in 2005, earned the East’s 4 seed and hosted the Washington Wizards in a first-round series.

So it’s fitting that they’ll open their 9th postseason in ten years by once again hosting the Wizards. I’m a sucker for symmetry. This ten-year run is not the 14 straight playoffs we posted from ’85 to ’98. But it’s been steady, and a whole lot more fun than winning 25% of our games for six years.

Before we kick it off with Bulls-Wiz ’14, a look back at nine great seasons of Bulls playoff basketball, starting with…

Playoff Series Rankings
(Ordered on a scale of FUN to NOT FUN)



While the 2009 Celtics series was unquestionably the most objectively fun series of the 12, I’d rather sweep the defending champs than lose to them in 7. Our first series win in the post-ring era was a brutalization of the defending champion Heat, with a breakout performance from Luol Deng who missed the ’05 playoffs and had three games in single digits in 2006.

He scored 33 points in Game 1, the top game among all players in the series, and averaged 26.3 points (tops in the series) and 9.0 rebounds, second only to Ben Wallace’s 9.8.

Deng’s performance even altered the course of subsequent NBA championships, since it was Deng’s high stock following this season that led Kobe Bryant to nix any Kobe-to-the-Bulls deal that sent Luol to L.A. and, in Kobe’s mind, leaving the Bulls underserved for a potential Kobe-Bulls championship.


Like the ’07 Heat series, this series has one crucial element missing from the ’09 Celtics series — the Bulls won. Game 7 in Brooklyn with a depleted (and that’s being generous) Bulls lineup was one of the great efforts in Bulls playoffs history. (Here’s what I wrote after that game.) How banged up were the Bulls? Daequan Cook was on the floor when the buzzer sounded.

This series featured nail-biters in Games 3 (Bulls by 3) and 6 (Nets by 3), but the gem was the triple overtime Game 4, led by Nate Robinson’s 34 points, a Bulls franchise record for points scored by a reserve in a playoff game.

A year after getting knocked out by the 8th seed Sixers following a few, ahem, injuries, finding the strength to overcome the favored Nets despite setbacks was a powerful testament to will, work ethic and maximizing ones talent. A true gift to all those who witnessed it.



It’s hard to lose a playoffs series and walk away thinking, “Hot damn, that was fun.” If it’s ever happened, it was in 2009. One year after seeming like the Eastern Conference’s next big thing, the Bulls fell apart in 2008, fired their coach, traded fan favorite Andres Nocioni for John Salmons and lucked into the draft’s #1 selection. With it came hometown boy Derrick Rose, the Rookie of the Year and future MVP who helped the Bulls win 11 of their final 14 games to finish 41-41, good for the East’s 7th seed and a date with the Celtics.

The series then turned into one ESPN Classic after another:

Game 1, TD Banknorth Garden, overtime: Bulls 105, Celtics 103

THE STORY: Rose scores 36 points, tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record for points in a playoff debut. His 11 assists made him the youngest player ever (20-years-old) to drop 35 points and 10 assists in a playoff game.

Game 2, TD Banknorth Garden: Celtics 118, Bulls 115

THE STORY: This game turned into a shootout between UConn guards, with Ben Gordon scoring 42 points and Ray Allen scoring 30 including the game-winning three. Gordon scored 14 points in the 4th quarter; Allen scored 12 all on three-pointers.

Game 3, United Center: Celtics 107, Bulls 86

THE STORY: Only dud of the series. Bulls were down 22 at the half and were booed by the hometown fans. Trailed by 34 with five minutes to go but scraped out the 21 point loss.

Game 4, United Center, double overtime: Bulls 121, Celtics 118

THE STORY: This is where the series came to life. In danger of falling behind the defending champs three games to one, the Bulls won a double overtime thriller most famous for Ben Gordon’s game-saving, sack-grabbing three at the end of the first overtime. Rose’s 23 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists were all team-highs — he was one assist shy from becoming the youngest player in league history to nab a postseason triple-double. (LeBron is the record holder — he did it twice as a 21-year-old.)

Game 5, TD Banknorth Garden, overtime: Celtics 106, Bulls 104

THE STORY: This is where the series turned ominous and spiteful. After Paul Pierce hit a jumper to give the C’s a two-point lead with 3.4 seconds remaining in OT, the Bulls ran an inbounds play that somehow got Brad Miller WIDE open at the top of the key. Miller took one dribble followed by two steps before rising for what was sure to be a game-tying layup.

Instead, with no other options, Celtics guard Rajon Rondo raked Miller across the face in a “block” attempt. The ball rimmed out and Miller fell to the ground. Dazed and bloodied — he needed ten stitches in his mouth after the game — Miller missed the first free throw to more or less end the game.

Game 6, United Center, triple overtime: Bulls 128, Celtics 127

THE STORY: This is where the series became legendary. The series was already the first in NBA history with three overtime games, and Game 6’s three overtimes gave it seven overtime periods for the series, also a record.

Game 6 is most famous for Joakim Noah’s steal-dribble-dunk sequence on Paul Pierce (my take from 2009) that gave the Bulls a three-point lead with 35 seconds left in the third OT, but don’t forget about Ray Allen scoring 51 points on a playoffs record-tying nine threes or big-time performances from Rose (28-8-7), Salmons (35 points) and Miller (23-10 off the bench).

Game 7, TD Banknorth Garden: Celtics 109, Bulls 99

THE STORY: The fairy tale ends. After leading at the end of the first, the Bulls get blown out in the second quarter 29-11 and never get closer than three points. Gordon scores 33 points in the final game of his Bulls career — perhaps fittingly, he was the team’s leading scorer in all four losses and none of the wins. (My Ben Gordon retrospective from 2009.)




I’m lumping these two series together, because it was the domination of the Pacers combined with a solid defeat of the Hawks that made Bulls fans feel as if this team had turned a corner. Neither stands out as being a clearly more fun series than the other. The Indiana series was a thumping, but the Hawks series put us in our first Eastern Conference Finals since 1998.

Highlights of the 11 games were Rose scoring 39 in Game 1 vs. Indiana and 44 in Game 3 vs. Atlanta. Highlights of the 44 point game coming in a later section, so here is the 39er:



7. FIRST ROUND, 2006, 2-4 at MIAMI HEAT

The first Bulls playoff series since the 1998 Finals started with rookie Andres Nocioni scoring 25 points and grabbing 18 rebounds, one of only six 25-15’s in Bulls playoffs historyI attended that game, and the pressure release at the U.C. after six postseason-less seasons gave me chills.

The Bulls crushed in Game 2 but then dropped four straight, including a heartbreaking Game 5, in which we erased a ten-point lead with 40 seconds to go only to see Gilbert Arenas slay us at the buzzer.

As for the 2006 series vs. the Heat, we lost the first two games, won the next two, and lost the final two.

Upsides of this series: We found out that Mike Sweetney’s nickname was “Big Footwork” during a starting lineup intro on TV… We saw three Bulls average twenty points for the series (Nocioni, Gordon, Hinrich)… We made it onto a championship video (Miami’s, but whatever).

Downsides of this series: Shaq eviscerated us in Game 6 with 30 points and 20 boards, the second-oldest player since at least 1964 to drop a 30-20 in the playoffs. At least we made him sad a year later.




That Pistons series was arguably the most hyped of any on this list, even more than the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, if only because we’d been building to it ever since the summer of 2006 when the Bulls signed Ben Wallace. This series felt like destiny…

…but it quickly fell to pieces: lost Games 1 and 2 by a combined 46 points in Detroit, then came home with that “It’s okay, we’ll win at home” mindset, led Game 3 44-28 at halftime, and lost by 7. Recovered to win Game 4 at home, and then won Game 5 in Detroit, setting up a home Game 6 with dreams of at least making it to Game 7.

Nope. Pistons roll.

(Weird trivia: Who led the Bulls in scoring in the final playoff game of the pre-Derrick Rose era? P.J. Brown, with 20 points.)

The Cavs series in 2010 was an execution. We’d been sentenced to death at the hands of a Cavaliers firing squad led by the league’s best player. There was nothing to do during that series but enjoy the show, the challenge and the improved play of Rose & Noah.

I wrote at length about this series (Game 1Game 2Game 3Game 4Game 5) so I’ll leave you with mentioning that this has got to be the saddest “We just won a playoff game” press conference in the history of sports:

Maybe he sensed that this was coming three days later:


10. SECOND ROUND, 2013, 1-4 at MIAMI HEAT

By the time the Bulls reached their second round series with Miami (the third matchup with LeBron in four years), they were on their last legs. In Noah’s case, literally. And he was one of the healthy ones. (My injury parody column before Game 4.)

The Bulls stole Game 1 and then lost the next three by an average of 23 point per game during which Joakim Noah got flipped off by a crazy Miami woman once accused of murdering her husband. When it ended, I for one was grateful.



The Bulls ROLLED in Game 1, holding LeBron to 15 points and winning by 21. Then their season crashed into a tree. Miami tied the series by closing Game 2 on a 12-2 run after being tied at 73 in the 4th, won Game 3 by 11, won Game 4 by eight in overtime and stole Game 5 with a game-clinching 18-3 run to scrape out a three-point win and a trip to the Finals.



A lot of Bulls fans have forgotten the short-lived John Starks era of 2000 (I can’t find any video, thank God, and can only find one good picture) but no Bulls fan will ever forget the sight of Derrick Rose pulling up lame on a jumpstop at the end of a Game 1 win over Philly. Like Bryan Crawford wrote a year later about the mood at the United Center that day: “It felt like a funeral.”

When we learned Derrick was out for the playoffs, I started calculating the odds of knocking off the CELTICS in Round 2, and then wondering how we might fair against Miami. But ye gods! I never thought that we wouldn’t even beat the Sixers.

Just hideous.

Coming tomorrow: The best performances, best games and best dunks from the 2005-2013 Bulls playoffs.

(UPDATE: Here is Part 2.)

Jack M Silverstein is a staff writer for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. Say hey @readjack.

Bulls Show 82: Weighing the Wizards

Ricky & Nillz preview the Bulls’ upcoming first round playoff series against the Wizards, including a look at key factors and match-ups. Listen to find out who we think has the edge between Michael Jordan’s former teams and whether Kirk Hinrich can avenge his 2005 playoff loss to Washington in honor of Andres Nocioni (no, seriously).