J. Michael on Nene's night off for Game 4
CHICAGO -- Five games into this first-round series with the Wizards, will Carlos Boozer finally show up for the Chicago Bulls? So far, he has been absent as they trail 3-1 going into Tuesday's game at United Center (CSN, 8 p.m. ET).
“You can’t put it on any one guy," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said after their 98-89 loss in Game 4 at Verizon Center. "They have to do their job, and they have to get out there and they have to execute. I have to get them ready and so that’s disappointing. It’s got to change or our season will be over.”
While Boozer has knocked down the occasional open jump shot, he hasn't been a factor in any game. He has been thoroughly outplayed by Nene and even backup Trevor Booker. The Wizards have gotten out to fast starts and have led after each first quarter.
Boozer contributed 11 points on 5-for-10 shooting and nine rebounds in the opener. Then he was limited to five points on 2-for-6 shooting and eight rebounds in an overtime loss in Game 2. His best outing as in Chicago's Game 3 victory when he had 14 points on 6-for-12 shooting and five rebounds. He had 8 points on 3-for-7 shooting and eight rebounds in 24 minutes in Game 4.
In the four games, Boozer has played a total of two seconds after the third quarter. Thibodeau has opted to go with Taj Gibson, who comes off the bench, late in games. Gibson had a career-playoff high 32 points on Sunday.
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“Like the previous game ... I think he had a great game. At times he just needs to take his normal looks," Gibson said after Game 4. "In the playoffs, teams try to zone in on what you do, but I think he is working his way out of it. We said the same thing about Mike (Dunleavy) earlier in the year when he couldn’t hit a shot. In the playoffs you've just got to put more effort in.”
Based on how Boozer is playing, Gibson must produce or the Bulls will be in an even deeper hole. Will Thibodeau juggle his lineup and start Gibson and bring Boozer off the bench instead to get the NBA's lowest-scoring offense out to a faster start?
He has to do something because his rotations in this series aren't working.