Before dissecting the Bulls' brutal loss in Boston on Friday, I should mention e-mailer Larry pointing out that "Disco Gino" is not an every-game occurrence at the Garden. The Celtics gave Gino the role of victory cigar last season, which means they only play the "American Bandstand" video when a game is well in hand, the same way legendary coach Red Auerbach would light his cigar when he smelled victory.
One of the Boston papers wrote that Gino never danced during the opener against Cleveland, because the game was close well into the fourth quarter. To me, that's no way to run a basketball franchise because no one wins if Gino doesn't dance. But it wasn't a problem with the Bulls in town. The Bandstand timeout occurred with 2:35 remaining and the Celtics ahead 95-71.
Bad as it was, with the Bulls missing 24 of their first 28 shots, this loss was easy to explain. With a rookie point guard and new coaching staff, the Bulls aren't sure what they want to do offensively right now. Facing the league's best defense, which committed three men to keeping Derrick Rose out of the lane in the first quarter, the Bulls were lost. They barely got a good look at the basket in the opening 16 minutes. Too much dribbling and too little passing, a replay of last season.
The lack of offensive purpose can explain most of the Bulls problems. For the second straight game, Thabo (still pronounced Thay-bo by the Celtics' announcer) Sefolosha accomplished little at the start of the contest. He played 7:15 in the first quarter, missed 2 shots and his only other statistic was a turnover.
Here's an idea: Go back to starting Kirk Hinrich and use Sefolosha at point guard with the second unit. Thabo just isn't very aggressive as a shooting guard and doesn't shoot all that well, anyway. He seems more comfortable setting up others.
Speaking of bad shooting, I'm not sure what to say about Tyrus Thomas' 2 for 17 night. He's never finished well in traffic, which was part of the problem Friday. But he also took the bait too many times when the Celtics left him open and dared him to shoot 17-footers. The thing is, Thomas can hit those shots if he launches them with confidence and it would be a huge boost for the Bulls offense if he started connecting.
"I told him to keep shooting," coach Vinny Del Negro said after the game. "I thought he had good shots. Shots that he'll make. Maybe a couple he forced a little bit. But I thought he had good elbow shots on some of our plays. Those are shots he's made all year in practice, in preseason. I'm confident he'll make those shots. They just didn't go down tonight."
Del Negro's attitude toward Thomas might be the most blatant case of the Bulls choosing a player-friendly coach last summer. We'll see if it pays off.
There were a couple of positives from Friday's loss: Derrick Rose was no worse than the third-best player on the court, even if he didn't collect many assists. Rajon Rondo blew past him for layups a couple of times, though.
The Bulls stayed aggressive on offense and gave themselves a chance to be competive. When Rose scored with 7:18 left in the second quarter to break the 4 for 28 slump, the Bulls trailed just 31-19 because they went 8 for 8 from the foul line.
Joakim Noah grabbed 13 rebounds in 23 minutes, though he came out at one point after failing to snag one particular defensive carom.
The Bulls failed the Celtics test miserably, but most every game represents a new challenge for this team. Next up is Memphis, a home game they should be able to win, followed Monday by a trip to Orlando, which is off to an 0-2 start.
Dancing days will be here again...