The Bulls pull off an unprecedented game 7 playoff win vs. the Nets last night, defeating Brooklyn in the cushy new Barclays Center 99-93. In retrospect, we should have expected nothing less.
After all, Jo guaranteed the win following the Bulls’ loss in game 6, despite the fact that the team was headed to hostile territory. And despite the fact that Luol and Captain Kirk were both out.
I wanted to believe him, really I did.
But even me, Cinjo, Bulls Banter blogger and #1 Bulls fan was skeptical. But I should know better than to question Joakim. He believes, His teammates believe. Coach Thibs believes.
And in Brooklyn, they delivered. Put all of the clichés together, and you come up with next man up do your job we need everybody we have more than enough to win with.
I’ll bottom line it for you – I was nervous. Yes indeedy, I was very nervous about this game. I guess it was fortuitous that a dinner I had scheduled with my pal MOC about two months prior was still a go for 7:30 p.m. CDT. I figured if the Bulls season ended in Brooklyn, it was just as well that I didn’t have to watch, but rather enjoy a lovely evening at Tuscany restaurant in Kenosha, WI with Michelle.
Arrangements were made with my brother, Kevin “Kevbro” Olsen to provide key updates via text throughout the night. When the texts started coming through during halftime, end of Q3, and after that, and the Bulls were consistently leading, well, I guess my “dinner in Wisconsin strategy” seemed to work.
Listened to some post-game coverage on the radio during the drive home, then watched the game replay on Comcast SportsNet from 12:30 until 3 a.m. In keeping with tradition, fell asleep during the third quarter. You’ve gotta gimme a break here…I’m not used to the all-night rages any more, even if it’s only lying on the couch watching Bulls basketball.
Jo’s transformation from game 1 to 7 of this series is nothing short of remarkable. Here’s a guy who was obviously despondent prior to the start of the series. Despite conducting every kind of treatment possible on his foot, followed by chants and séances, it didn’t look like he was going to be ready to go.
The kid could hardly walk down the street for a stroll, and seeing him run up and down the court in game 1. Well, for me, that was extremely difficult to watch.
Fast forward to game 6, the pandemic game, with the trash can barf buckets, and I guess Jo’s labored lumbering took second place.
Jo delivers a double double, with 24 points, 14 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. His enthusiasm helped to propel the team to an unexpected, unprecedented, hard-fought, well-deserved victory. Marco Belinelli matched Jo in points, with 24. Carlos Boozer adds 17. Nate the Great added 12, and Jimmy “48 minutes” Butler chipped in 9.
Daequan Cook, rookie Marquis Teague, my man Big Naz and Taj Gibson all contributed big-time.
So lesson learned here. I’m going to listen to Jo from now on. He said it was hostile in Brooklyn. Well, maybe not so much, with his entourage (Mom, sis, pals, friends) there in the stands for him, and a pretty good Bulls contingent in their “See Red” shirts. Add on the Brooklyn Nets fans, who boo the home team more than the Knicks. Ah, NY rivalries…a thing of beauty.
The Bulls head to the most hostile of territories on Monday. The Bulls’ fiercest rivals, some other team, not too well-known, and NEVER talked about – I think they’re called the Heat? Yup, they’re next up.
Different big stage in a different big city.
Same Bulls team.
TBD starting lineup.
Same win guarantee.
Note: This blogger sends well wishes to our warrior and truest of all competitors, Luol Deng for a speedy recovery. And, to Captain Kirk, may your bruise heal quickly, as we need you back to run the show.