|The Sixers took it to Chicago in the second half of Game 2. (Getty Images)|
The Sixers are going to get zero credit for their win against Chicago in Game 2. This is the reality of the world we live in. The minute Derrick Rose's ACL tore on national television, the only relevant storyline for Sixers-Bulls became whether the scrappy, tough-hearted Bulls could rally around their team and make an unprecedented run around despite missing their superstar. After all, they did dominate the regular season without Rose for much of the year. And the first half looked like that would be the narrative going forward.
Then the second half happened. In the third quarter, the Sixers absolutely dominated Chicago at both ends. They leveled a 166 offensive efficiency on one of the best defenses in the league, and gave up just a 61.5. That's about as ugly as it's going to get in a playoff series. It was sheer outright control at both ends of the floor. Even without Rose, the Sixes need to be noted for their production. But there will be no discussion of that. Just talk of an emotional letdown for the Bulls, the way they missed Derrick Rose (especially with John Lucas and C.J. Watson's defense, which was exposed in a huge way Tuesday night).
The Sixers didn't elect to play the Bulls without Rose. They can only play the opponent in front of them. And the team that remains in between them and the second round is still a very good team, especially playing in front of a raucous home crowd. So it should be noted what the Sixers did to the Bulls. Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Louis Williams torched the Bulls outside and in. They victimized inferior defense on the perimeter and created, then exploited mismatches.
The Sixers also stepped up their interior defense. Joakim Noah, who had controlled the game offensively in the first half, did not attempt a shot in the third quarter. Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng went 1-6. The Sixers attacked, harrassed, and blocked the Bulls out, playing the kind of defense they played in the first half of the regular season, which helped them to one of the league's best marks.
So no, there will be no discussion tomorrow of how the Sixers tore the Bulls apart in the second half to even the series, that the Sixers have a chance of slipping past the Bulls and facing a team with lots of problems in their own right in either Boston or Atlanta. It will just be about the Bulls missing their heart and soul. But somewhere, you should find time to note that a team that had every reason not to get up for a game did finish it off impressively. Philadelphia saw an opening and went for the jugular. The Sixers wanted to play the Bulls with Rose, if they were to lose, they wanted to lose to the best. But they don't get to control that. They can only control how they played. And on Tuesday, they played very well.