The Philadelphia 76ers had a chance to close out the Chicago Bulls Tuesday night in Game 5, but kicked away the chance with an offensive effort that could have been used as a scarecrow to strike fear into approaching birds.
The 76ers mustered just 26 first-half points and shot just 32.1 percent in their 77-69 road loss. They could have executed better, sure, but Jordan Sams of the SB Nation blog Liberty Ballers provided a reminder to lessen the pain of all those bricks:
Chicago's defense is good. How good? They finished the season first in John Hollinger's defensive efficiency rating and second in Basketball Reference's defensive ratings. As a matter of fact, their defense finished in the top 20 of all-time in defensive efficiency during the shot clock era.
I'm fully aware that the Bulls' historically good ratings in the various defensive metrics are slightly skewed because of the lockout - 9 of the top 20 defensive efficiency ratings since 1979 came during either this season or the '98 lockout - but they're still a great defense, coached by arguably the best defensive coach in the league.
Per Basketball Value, they allowed an average of 97.6 points per 100 possessions this season - good for the lowest total in the league. Now, one might say 'yeah, but they had Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah during the regular season'. Well, it turns out Rose and Noah may not be as important to the Bulls' defense as you'd think.