Five things off Game 5 of Bulls-Celtics:
1. Paging Jimmy Butler. Paging Jimmy Butler. Please report to the fourth quarter of a close game in a tied playoff series.
Oops, too late.
When Game 5 of Bulls-Celtics was on the line Wednesday, which basically was the entire fourth quarter, Butler was MIA.
He took only two shots, missed them both, and committed a turnover in a closing quarter in which the Bulls were swamped 29-16. Butler wasn’t starting the offense or finishing it. I don’t know what else there is.
Besides turtling in the moment, I mean.
For a guy who says the Bulls are his team, Butler ought to show up at important times to prove it.
The Bulls could’ve used his the sheer force of his game. He shot one free throw in Game 5 after shooting 23 in Game 4. He scored 14 points Wednesday, but was a minus-11.
This is the postseason, pal. This is not the time to play hide-and-weak.
This is Butler’s first playoff series as “The Guy,’’ the alpha of alphas. Derrick Rose is gone. This was set up for Butler the way he wanted, the way he acted, the way he talked.
Here’s the rule, Jimbo: If you’re going to talk big, you’d better play big.
Photos from Game 5 of the Bulls-Celtics playoff series on April 26, 2017, in Boston.
Isaiah Thomas, meanwhile, talked big, calling himself “an impossible cover’’ after Game 4, and then proved it at prove-it time in Game 5.
The smallest man on the court met the biggest moments by taking over his team the way Butler didn’t take over the Bulls, scoring 11 points and even grabbing two rebounds in the fourth quarter.
That’s what a leader does. That’s how this caste system works. He was there when the Celtics needed him.
Butler? Waiting for him. Wait. Ing.
Maybe he’s hurt. But nobody said anything, so if a guy is on the court, then he’s expected to be who he is.
Or who he says he is.
Could you imagine watching Butler at the game’s most critical moment and then being asked to give up a lottery pick in trade for him?
Neither can the Celtics.
2. With 6:26 to go, the Bulls trailed the Celtics by just two, 91-89. The Bulls had pounded the Celtics on the boards, had shot a scorching percentage and had virtually silenced Thomas.
Even without Rajon Rondo, the Bulls were on the verge of a stunner.
And then they fell apart.
Then Dwyane Wade fell apart. Then Robin Lopez fell apart. I’m sure Butler would’ve fallen apart, too, but you couldn’t find him.
They lost their poise. They lost their smarts. They lost the game.
The Celtics ripped off the next 13 points. Boston, 104-89. Metldown, meet ballgame.
Here are the Bulls’ comedy stylings during the game-deciding run:
- Bobby Portis missed a three-point try, then was outrebounded by the itty-bitty Thomas, and of course he fouled the Celtics guard
- Butler missed a shot — hey, there he is!
- Lopez committed a foul
- Nikola Mirotic committed a foul
- Canaan turned over the ball
- Lopez committed another foul
- And sprinkled in there were technical fouls on Wade and Lopez.
- And a search for Butler.
I think what we’ve learned from the last three losses is that the Bulls shouldn’t build around Butler as much as Rondo.
3. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg was getting his game. Or rather, Celtics coach Brad Stevens was giving it to him.
Gerald Green, the key change Stevens made to go small in the two wins in Chicago, played just 11 minutes in the first half, collecting two fouls and making one shot while posting a minus-11.
Green’s absence helped negate the Celtics’ advantage of going small, giving the Bulls a chance to play their game against a Celtics team ill-equipped to play big. And the Bulls still blew it.
The Bulls won the rebounding battle 42-38, but committed 16 turnovers while taking back just six of their own and were outscored 23-4 in points off turnovers.
Do the Bulls know that tanking games now doesn’t get them into the lottery?
4. Wade nearly posted a triple-double with 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, to go along with four turnovers that tied for the game-high and the technical foul during the choke. Once optimistic, now I see Wade as the series’ emptiest calories.
Heat president Pat Riley says now he wished he had given Wade the max contract he gave Chris Bosh. After the 35-year-old guard shot 18-for-48 the last three games, maybe the Bulls wish Riley had given Wade that max deal, too.
5. In the second quarter, Kelly Olynyk missed a corner three, but Avery Bradley was all alone to put it back. Wade had his back to Bradley and made no attempt to defend the shot. Geez, at least fake like you care about playing defense.
5a. Anthony Morrow played nine minutes in the second quarter and scored eight points. He had 23 total since coming to the Bulls on Feb. 24. So, yeah, the crushing thing is the Bulls lost the Anthony Morrow game.
5b. Morrow got time before Denzel Valentine. How bad is Gar Forman’s first draft pick from 2016 that he can’t beat out a journeyman throw-in from an embarrassing trade? I’ll hang up and listen for the continued embarrassment.
5c. At least the Bulls showed up from the opening tip for the first time in three games. Yeah they blew an eight-point first-quarter lead, but hey, at least they showed up. I’m sure that’ll be called momentum they can take into the offseason. Isn’t that what you say when you’re a helpless organization?
5d. Postgame question from a Boston reporter: “Fred, did you see Isaiah carry the ball?’’
Hoiberg: “No,’’ and with that, he stood up and ended his press conference.
Thanks for playing our game.