On Sunday, the Chicago Bulls were upset in their first game of the 2014 NBA Playoffs. They were defeated by the Washington Wizards in Game One of their first-round series at United Center, 102-93.
Having won four more games in the regular season, Chicago began the series as decided favorites over Washington. With the Bulls losing home-court advantage, the Wizards are now slight favorites to advance to the next round.
The No.2 defense in the league was not enough for the Bulls to overcome their lack of offensive firepower. Chicago shot 42 percent from the field, totaling just 39 points in the second half.
As the series moves along, Tom Thibodeau might be forced to make some lineup adjustments, in order to account for the team’s lack of scoring. Would the head coach give Jimmer Fredette a chance to boost the offense?
Nine Chicago players got into the game on Sunday night, as Fredette remained on the bench. The Bulls could have used Fredette’s three-point shooting ability, considering he’s converted 40 of his 84 attempts (47.6 percent) this season. The team struggled mightily from behind the arc, making five of 20 shots. The Bulls reserve guards missed all six of their three-point shot attempts.
Despite his offensive abilities, it appears unlikely that Fredette will be any sort of a factor in the series. After being traded to Chicago, the guard saw his playing time almost completely disappear. He registered more than 10 minutes in just one game with the Bulls, and sat out eight of the team’s final 10 games.
When Fredette did get a chance to play, however, he made the most of it. With backup guard D.J. Augustin away from the team because of the birth of his son, the BYU grad played 31 minutes on April 14. In the second to last day of the regular season, he shot 50 percent from the field, scoring 17 points.
Still, changes aren’t expected to be made. Thibodeau finished third in the voting for Coach of the Year, leading a team that lost two of its top stars to 48 victories. Unless there is a significant injury, Fredette could remain on the bench for the remainder of the postseason.
“We have a rotation,’’ Thibodeau said this past weekend. “That doesn’t mean … you never know how things unfold. If you have an injury or illness, that next guy has to get in there and get the job done. We saw that already. Winding down and D.J. (Augustin) missed for the birth of a child, Jimmer (Fredette) went in and did a great job. That’s what we expect from all our players.’’
Last year, Thibodeau was forced to expand his rotation after his team suffered several injuries in the playoffs. Daequan Cook played 23 minutes in Game Two of Chicago’s series with the Miami Heat, after having played 11 total minutes in the previous nine contests. Richard Hamilton played 57 minutes in the final two games of that series, even though he was benched in the previous four games.
The Wizards and Bulls are scheduled to play Game Two of their series on Tuesday night in Chicago.