CHICAGO – The Chicago Bulls have dropped two straight to Boston, both at home, and this best-of-seven series shifts back to Boston for Game 5 with the Celtics clearly having all the momentum with the series now tied at two games apiece.
These are desperate times for the Bulls, which might explain why their head coach Fred Hoiberg went on a rant about Isaiah Thomas supposedly carrying the ball.
“Let me say this: Isaiah Thomas is a hell of a player, an unbelievable competitor, a warrior, everything he's going through right now,” Hoiberg said. “He had a hell of a game tonight.”
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Wait for it … here it comes …
But, “When you’re allowed to discontinue your dribble on every possession, he's impossible to guard. Impossible to guard,” Hoiberg added. “When you're able to put your hand underneath the ball, take two or three steps and put it back down. It's impossible to guard him in those situations."
Of all the rants and things for Hoiberg to be bothered by in Game 4, he picked one of the lowest hanging fruits to get worked up about trying to explain why his team was torched (again) by Thomas who had 33 points on 10-for-21 shooting.
First of all, if the officials started to call a carry every time they saw one, NBA games would become longer than overtime football games or baseball games with extra innings.
And again, Thomas’ alleged carrying the ball aside, that doesn’t explain how Hoiberg has yet to figure out how to successfully adjust to Boston’s small-ball lineups or how Gerald Green lit them up for 16 first-half points in Game 4 on jumpers and drives to the rim, or how Chicago had a 12-10 advantage on offensive rebounds but Boston outscored them 17-10 on second-chance points, not to mention getting out in transition more which led to them winning the fast-break battle, 17-9.
Those are real, in-need-of-fixing-type problems that should be given more thought by Hoiberg than whether Thomas is carrying the ball.
Hoiberg won’t admit it, but the bigger problem with Thomas is that the Bulls simply don’t have a player who can slow Thomas down – not even Butler who is one of the best two-way defenders in the NBA.
“Not one man can guard me,” Thomas said. “That’s just the confidence I have.”
So far in this series, he’s right.
The Bulls have been in help mode when Thomas has the ball in his hands throughout this series, showing elusiveness off the dribble while managing to find just the right angle to toss up shots against the long, outstretched arms of defenders.
Hoiberg has gone with size, length, speed, you name it and he’s tried it against Thomas.
Nothing has worked to slow down Thomas which may be at the heart of Hoiberg’s public gripes about Thomas carrying, with the goal for the Bulls and his rant being to hopefully influence the officials who will work Game 5 on Wednesday.
“That’s not the reason why I’m an impossible cover,” Thomas said. “It is what it is. I don’t know. I’ve been dribbling that way my whole life. I don’t know what to say to that stuff."