Bulls Had James Harden's Number, Imaginary Playoffs, A Crazy Box Score, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Bulls Had James Harden’s Number, Imaginary Playoffs, A Crazy Box Score, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

I want to wish my beautiful fiancee (we got engaged this weekend!) a very happy birthday!

Now that I’ve officially put a ring on it and written about her two-straight days in bullets, I will not feel even a lick bad about making fun of her precious Milwaukee Bucks.


  • The Boston Celtics were supposed to run the Philadelphia 76ers out of the building. The defending Eastern Conference champions got to kick off the semifinals in their home arena with Joel Embiid stuck on the sideline in street clothes. Still dealing with a knee injury he sustained in Game 3 of the first round, when precisely the MVP-favorite can return to the floor remains unclear. As good as Philly has been at times this year, the outcome of the game felt predictable. Well, to everyone except James Harden!
  • I got to give the guy credit. In a hostile environment with his co-star hurt, he returned to prime Houston form and tied his playoff career-high with 45 points on 17-30 shooting. He scored 15 of those points in the final quarter, knocking down the coldest shot of the night with 8.0 seconds left to give Philly the lead. At this stage in his career, I didn’t think Harden had that performance in him. Look at the ice in this man’s veins:

  • While I’ve never been a big Harden guy, I can’t deny that when he gets going, there aren’t many players quite like him. How he creates offense off the dribble is something else, and his signature step-back 3-pointer will go down in history. I’m now incredibly curious to see how Philly handles Game 2 of this series. Will they rush Embiid back into the mix or does stealing one make them feel at least a little better about giving him another game off? The two will battle again tomorrow night in Boston before returning to Philly on Friday.
  • I also can’t help and respect this leadership from Harden:

  • Alex Caruso didn’t see that one coming:

  • If I know one thing for sure, it’s that Harden would have never had that performance against the Bulls! I still can’t believe how poorly the 76ers’ point guard played in his three games against Chicago this season. He shot a combined 8-44 from the field and 3-20 from downtown. This 18.2 percent success rate was BY FAR his worst against any team this season. Overall, he averaged just 12.3 points and turned the ball over a combined nine times.
  • My mind was especially blown when the Bulls took Philly to 2OT back in late March. While Harden dished 12 assists, he scored a season-low 5 points in over 46 minutes of action. The Bulls didn’t even have Alex Caruso in that game! I know, what the heck!
  • Speaking of the Bulls bizarrely owning Harden, I still can’t believe they went .500 against the Celtics and 76ers this regular season. I really do think they could have given either a competitive series in the first round. Now, I’d still expect them to lose in six or something, but they showed an ability to match up decently well with both teams. A Boston series, in particular, would have been fascinating. The Bulls’ size with Vucevic and Drummond gave them some genuine issues. Caruso also did a miraculous job on Tatum this season. According to NBA Stats’ matchup data, Caruso held Boston’s leading man to just 30.8 percent shooting this season.
  • With that said, this shocking aptitude against two East semifinalists should not be something that sways the front office in any one direction this offseason. But I do fear that will happen. Arturas Karnisovas couldn’t help himself during his end-of-season press conference and mentioned the team’s newfound success against the league’s top teams. None of that matters, however, when you finish 40-42 and can’t even make the playoffs. If he allows that to dictate any of his decision-making, it’ll be a big mistake.
  • I totally get what PJ Tucker brings to the floor, but this is still SHOCKING to me:

  • I always see folks say that the Warriors would have cruised to a victory because of the change in style of play. But I really don’t think we should underestimate (1) the GOAT and (2) the defensive talent of that Bulls’ team.

  • That’s what you want to hear!

  • OH!

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.