This lonely picture of a disconsolate Crawford epitomizes what all Blackhawks fans felt when, with 6 seconds left in Game Two of their First Round playoff series against the St. Louis Blues, the Blues scored to tie up the game…again. Not only did they score a late third period goal in Game One to tie up the game, but the fans and, of course, the players had to endure another 3 periods, essentially another game, only to see the Blues score the winning goal in OT 3. That game was a heartbreaker. So when they tied it late…AGAIN, I really lost it. I started screaming and pounding on my desk. I literally cleared my cats out of the room. They had no idea why their crazy mom was freaking out, but they definitely weren’t sticking around to find out. I just couldn’t believe it. They had the game. They had both of those games. Who was this team on the ice allowing the opposing team to score so late in the game? This couldn’t be the Stanley Cup Champions. NO WAY!! But unfortunately, it was and IS!!! When the Blues scored the winning goal pretty quickly in the first overtime, I was just so let down. I couldn’t watch any more hockey for the day. I turned my attention to Day One of the NBA playoffs. My BULLS weren’t playing their first game till the next day, so I thought I’d enjoy the competition between the first four match-ups. Most of the games were pretty great. In fact, 3 of 4 of the road teams took home wins. While I thought that was pretty awesome, it also made me more nervous since my boys were the ones playing at home the next night. I really didn’t need another reason to be nervous. I was truly hoping that my boys would come out strong and make me proud. But the Wizards quickly showed that they came to play. One of their toughest covers, Nene, was back and unstoppable. Jo just couldn’t control him. And Nene in effect took Jo out of his game. The refs were calling fouls left and right and in both the first and second quarters the BULLS got in the bonus early. There were over 50 free throws taken all game between both teams. That’s kind of ridiculous!!!! Nonetheless, the Wizards played better defense, showing up one of the best defensive teams in the league. My boys also managed to blow an all important 13 point lead in the third quarter. I literally felt like I was on a roller coaster throughout the whole game. I was nauseous and depressed by the end when they lost. In that moment, I swore that I wasn’t going to watch any more playoff games by either team. I still feel sick to my stomach about how both of these series have started. After devoting so much time this year to watching all of their regular season games, seeing how the playoffs are rolling out is such a letdown. I know I can’t NOT watch them play. But at the same time, I don’t want to be disappointed either. I am so emotionally invested in these teams, especially the BULLS, that it’s mentally and physically (yes I feel SICK) draining when they don’t perform as I expect them to. Maybe I shouldn’t watch sports if I don’t have the stomach for it. Maybe I shouldn’t take it all so seriously. Easier said than done. Either way, I always feel this way after any loss. I think to myself, ‘I’m not wasting my time anymore.’ Usually by the next day, I’ve shaken off the loss and of course I’ll watch them play the next game. I have to support my guys…NO MATTER WHAT!! That’s always been my motto. And while that will continue to be my motto, I just wish I was able to shake off these losses. This time it’s taking me much longer to shake them off. I hope that’s not a sign of what’s to come. I really need a win! I really do!!
This would be the last game of my Texas Tour. I was excited, but a little sad. I’m so happy that I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to see my boys play three times in Texas. While I really miss seeing them play in Chicago, I was thrilled to see them play in my current home state. I was nervous about this game because the first time we met the Mavericks this season, it was a blowout loss. I tried to get to the arena early enough to see them all shoot around, including Derrick. But, unfortunately, traffic did not cooperate and I didn’t get to see any of them shoot. I was in the perfect section; It was baseline closest to the Bulls bench and it was filled with Bulls fans. I was so happy to see that.
At around seven the teams came back on the court for the official shoot around. I went camera crazy!!
During the game I didn’t take any pictures. I just focused on the action on the court. There wasn’t much action on the Bulls end to start the game. The more they got down in points, the more I started to squirm in my seat. I was so upset. I didn’t come all this way to see them blown out again. UGH! They got down by as much as 16 points in the first half. Fortunately they got it together in the 2nd half of the 2nd quarter and came within 3 points to end the half. At least now I had some hope. When the guys came back out for the second half, we now had the Mavs shooting on my side of the court so I snapped some pictures of them.
The third quarter had a lot of back and forth play. Neither team really dominated. But at least I got through it without keeling over. The fourth quarter was the quarter that FINALLY got my team going and ME going too, for that matter! I hadn’t screamed and yelled very much during this game…until NOW. The defensive pressure that my team put on the Mavs is really what won us that game. My boys were relentless. They went after every loose ball. I think my very favorite play is when Dirk was dribbling the ball (somewhat carelessly) and he sort of fumbled it. In that instant, Jo pounced! He literally dove for the ball and quickly called a timeout to maintain possession. I was leaning over screaming “Time out!! Time out!!” And finally the ref made the call. THEN I was going nuts. I guess I felt the game in hand at that point.
And really the rest of the game was all BULLS!! They won it by a close 100-91, but it was all done in the fourth. I think this was one of the best games I have ever seen my guys play. Usually when they get down by that much in the beginning of a game, they don’t make it up. They lose those games. But tonight was so different. They never gave up. They just kept fighting back. And that tells me so much about where their heads are at right now in the season. They truly believe they can win. They truly believe they can beat ANYBODY!! And now they’re just proving it over and over again to all the non-believers. I know that they are going to shock a lot of people who have been overlooking & dismissing them in the race for a championship. They’re not just out there playing with a lackadaisical attitude. They’re out there to take it as far as they possibly can. I’m a believer…have been! But there’s a renewed fire in this team that gives me chills every time I watch them play. I’m so proud to call myself a BULLS fan!!!
Before I bought the tickets to this game, I called my brother up to see if he wanted to come with me again. When he agreed, my next question to him was, ‘How much do you want to spend on tickets? What’s your max?’ Once we agreed on an amount, I got to work getting us the best seats for that price. And what I came up with were these plaza level seats behind the Bulls bench. The seats were not as close as my Houston seats, but they sure gave us a great view of the court. I was very happy with the choice. I took some photos of the guys as they shot around before the game. Unfortunately, since traffic was so horrendous, we got there much later than I had planned. We only got to see the official shoot around. Here are some shots:
I had decided against wearing my Noah jersey because the Bulls lost both games I had worn it to (last season in San Antonio and against Houston in December). I rocked a Chicago Bulls jersey I’ve had for years. I guess that did the trick because my boys played great basketball against the Spurs. Granted, the Spurs had several key players out…Ginobli, Leonard, Splitter…but so did we. And my Bulls just played a stronger game. They outscored the Spurs in 3 out of 4 quarters. They played incredible defense, especially Noah against Duncan. Noah was up in his face the entire game. I love when he plays like that! He didn’t shut Duncan down, but he definitely contained him. My boys started strong and ended strong. I was screaming and cheering through all four quarters. The only time I got a little quiet was when the Spurs made a run in the 2nd quarter. Thankfully my boys kept pushing and held onto their lead. I was surrounded by Spurs fans. They didn’t say anything to me, but I’m sure they didn’t appreciate me cheering for the Bulls. Luckily I had one guy in front of me who was as enthusiastic a Bulls fan as I was. During one of the time outs, I captured the guys in their huddle. Derrick had already started traveling with the team, so he was involved in every huddle. During this particular timeout, he could not stand still. I was laughing because I didn’t think I’d even be able to capture him in these photos because he kept moving back and forth. You can see that in each shot he’s in a different spot.
Ultimately my boys ended the game 10 points over the Spurs. I hung out until Noah left the floor. I screamed out his name, but I was too far away for him to hear me. Once again, I had a blast and so did my brother!! So happy I treated myself to this game.