Carlos Boozer. The man Chicagoans love to hate. We love our Bulls more than some of us love our own family. Some of us never miss a game, whether it’s on TV or catching Chuck and Bill in your car. But, when the game is on there is something we can’t stand more than the opposing team-
“GIMME THAT SHIT!”
Our eyes roll, and we let out a forced laugh. We have to. We have no choice, because he’s on the Bulls. Not only that, but he has the soon-to-be second biggest contract on the team. We are stuck with Carlos Boozer unless we amnesty him this summer. Gar has stated that will not happen, but some like Bill Simmons suggest it’s done deal.
The playoffs begin this weekend, and we are going into it the number one seed for the second year in a row. We are a better, and stronger team from start to finish. Well…maybe not Asik.
Use two hands to catch the ball!
You don’t have to bring the ball to your knees first!
The obvious prediction is that the Bulls will play the Heat in the Eastern Conference final, but for both teams the road to get there will be tough. This is where Carlos Boozer needs to step up, and quiet the haters, at least until next season. He has tons going for him right now, and is on pace to have one of his most healthy seasons. When the team has been beaten and battered all season, it was detrimental that he was on our team for offense. CJ Watson, and John Lucas III popped in, and out for offensive surges, but Carlos has been the constant. Tough to believe after he started his first season here injured after falling over a gym bag. Should’ve known from that moment on it was going to be a love/hate relationship.
This season Boozer is averaging 15 points, and almost 9 rebounds. Certainly not his career high, (21.1 and 11.7) but when comparing other highly paid power forwards, his numbers look up to par. Ama’re Stoudemire is averaging 17 & 8, while Chris Bosh is at 18 & 8. The production is there; we just need to be sure it stays that way come playoffs.
Last year in the playoffs Boozer played below his season averages, and became a constant burden on defense. He played his best series against Miami with 14 points plus 10 boards, but he also had his worst turnover percentage. The playoffs are not the time when season averages dip, its when they should sky rocket. Starters are played well more than what they have been playing; Unless you’re Luol Deng, who can’t literally play more than the allotted 48 minutes of regulation. Damn you, Thibs.
Last night against the Pacers, Boozer was on a tear. Not only was he shooting lights out, but also actually dove for a loose ball. HE DOVE FOR A BALL. It was a fascinating site, and allowed us to be more optimistic about the playoffs. But that does not let us forget all the bad. He must be aware of all the criticism towards his defense. He must acknowledge that during crunch time a guy in his third year, paid 12 million less money than him, is getting the final minutes.
One thing that Chicago fans will never be able to let go when it comes to Boozer is that we got him as a consolation prize. Although I wouldn’t want Stoudemire now, Boozer was the third best power forward in the free agency that included Ama’re, and Bosh. When we did end up signing him, I think all of us Bulls fans quickly looked at all of the good he would bring to the Bulls. This caused us to be more naïve about the bad. We were so bitter about the Big 3 in Miami that we had to put all of our eggs in one basket, and believed that Boozer would lead us to the championship. Now we know that is not the case. He’ll never lead a team to the finals, but I do believe he can be a huge contributor in, not only getting there, but also winning. However, he has to step up his game, and be the guy we all imagined he would be 2 years ago.
If the effort he gave in the Pacer game last night is any indication, I expect, and hope we see a more determined Boozer on the floor in the playoffs. I want to see smart passes, open shots, and for the love of god, some defense!
Look in the mirror Boozer, the defense you show, and the effort you put in these games, could determine the outcome. Rose will lead us there, but you have to help guide us.
If not, Bill Simmons may be right.
By: Mike Nelson