By Nick Shepkowski-
UNITED CENTER (CBS) As I sit and type this out, it feels like I’m back in the fall dissecting numbers to quantify Jay Cutler putting up a clunker of a performance in an important game.
Except it’s not fall and the game isn’t being played outdoors.
Take out Jay Cutler throwing four interceptions at Lambeau Field and insert Carlos Boozer failing to get the job done in the NBA Playoffs.
Don’t get me wrong, nobody in their right mind expected this extremely short-handed Bulls team to beat the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Predictions were that the Heat would do away with the Bulls in four or five games and easily move on to the Eastern Conference Finals. Well, one more night of suffering and the 2012-13 season will be nothing more than a memory.
The final line from Game 4 will say that Carlos Boozer finished with a double-double after scoring 14 points and pulling down a dozen rebounds.
Congratulations on getting to 14 points after shooting a horrendous 3-of-14 from the field.
Monday marked the ninth playoff game Boozer has played against Miami since signing in Chicago prior to the 2010-11 season. In those nine games Boozer has put up 14 or fewer points six times. Furthermore, in four of those nine contests he failed to put up double-digit points.
Obviously the offense and how this season/series play out are different if Derrick Rose is a factor. Rose, of course, is not a factor, but without the team’s franchise player suiting up this season, Boozer yet again will be perhaps the biggest egg-layer in the series that eliminates the Bulls.
This year’s four playoff outings against the Heat have seen Boozer put up scoring totals of six, eight, 21 and 14. For a team looking for offense anywhere they can get it, only one of those was acceptable. The spring of 2011 saw similar numbers with Boozer going for 14, 7, 26, 20 and five points as the Bulls lost to the Heat in five games. Before you exert too much energy thinking and looking back, yes, the five-point showing was when the Bulls collapsed late in Game 5 that year and were eliminated.
It’s not only the Heat that Boozer has had the playoff-blues against, however.
Just a year ago in the first round series against a less talented Philadelphia team, Boozer failed to get to double figures in scoring in three of the six contests. Not that the Bulls were going to chase an Eastern Conference crown after Rose’s injury but Boozer’s performance was an enormous factor in them not seeing the second round.
Sure, against one of the most inept yet talented teams in recent memory (Brooklyn Nets) Boozer had a strong showing this postseason, but for a guy who averaged over 20 points per game in 44 playoff games with the Jazz, Boozer’s shortcomings will especially stick out again once this series is wrapped up.
In addition to covering the Bulls for CBSChicago.com, Nick Shepkowski is the associate producer for The McNeil and Spiegel Show and a weekend host on The Score. For Bulls information all season long, follow him on Twitter @Shep670.