Fred Hoiberg

The Chicago Bulls see the playoff ship sailing away from them. So the best thing to do is have a team meeting and figure out what’s not working, right?

Well, head coach Fred Hoiberg the players and staff met on Sunday and aired things out. What exactly? Hard to tell, but Mike Dunleavy responding to the question gives a nice little peak into how bad and fractured things are for the Bulls at the moment.

It’s just a lot of stuff. To say it’s like one thing we’re not doing right and that would solve everything, that’s just not the case. It’s a bunch of stuff we’re struggling with. Not only with effort, but execution and discipline and continuity. You can go through the whole thing. So from that standpoint I can’t sit here and say it’s one thing, or we’re not playing hard enough. We need to do everything better. Talent’s not everything. It’s playing together, chemistry. Those are things we’ve struggled with, not just this year.

The Bulls, 36-36, are two games below 8th in the East, chasing the Detroit Pistons. They’ve lost their last three games, and play the Hawks, a team that’s beaten them three times this season by an average of 17.6 points, next. Then comes a series of six road games in eight, including the Pacers, Rockets, Bucks, Grizzlies, Heat and Pelicans. They also play the Cleveland Cavaliers at home and finish the season against the Philadelphia 76ers.

One might look at the schedule and think it’s not too bad, but with the Bulls playing like a bunch of guys who have never seen each other or worse, openly dislike playing with each other, trying to figure out if it’s a tough schedule or not doesn’t make any sense. They need to play better basketball, especially on defense, which used to be something of a speciality of this team. Injuries, and mostly guys playing injured, hasn’t been helpful.

Despite the talk and the airing of grievances, there doesn’t seem to be some air of optimism surrounding the team as they embark on their do-or-die week as Dunleavy called it. The Bulls are usually filled with a sense that no one is better than them, but this season it’s been proven wrong. Maybe they can make things difficult for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but that’s not such an achievement these days. Whether it’s better for them to miss the playoffs or not, this season is a massive failure. Realizing it and talking about it might be a step in the right direction, but the Bulls’ problems probably run a lot deeper than team meetings.

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