Bulls at Hawks at 7pm on ESPN - Closing time

ESPN's bringing out the big guns tonight for the broadcast with Mike Tirico and Hubie Brown doing the play by play (seriously, Tirico is one of my favorite play by play guys, and Brown is one of the best in the business at adding analysis).   Stuart Scott and my new best friend Jon Barry are doing the Kia NBA Countdown at 6:30. 

I've got tickets to game seven, but I'm hoping that I don't need to use them because the Bulls closed things out tonight.
 

ABC Bulls fans.   Always Be Closing.

The Chicago Bulls have a considerable edge in the series against the Hawks.  They're the better of the two teams and only need to win one of the next two games in order to advance. 

That said, no one wants to go back to Chicago and play a one game series against Atlanta.   Miami has already advanced, and the Bulls should be highly motivated to end this thing tonight.  

As such, they need to come out with a ton of energy, put their foot down, and beat the fight right out of Atlanta.   The Hawks have had issues folding when the chips are down the past two seasons and an early lead could fray them at the edges.

Derrick Rose needs to repeat game five

It'd be even better if he could repeat game three, but that might be asking a bit much.   In game five, Rose made outstanding decisions, slashing to the lane when he had a good opening and had much easier finishes at the rim than in game four. 

As such, he scored in a very efficient manner which propped up the Bulls offense considerably.   The Bulls need Rose to continue to force the issue when he can do so successfully but get everyone involved when he can't.

He relied on Taj Gibson down the stretch of game five, and Gibson delivered.   Who will step up this game?

Defense!

The Bulls annihilated the Hawks on defense in the fourth quarter of game five.   They did so by throwing Rose out there with a bunch of defensive superstars.   Asik, Gibson, Brewer, and Deng is a murderers row for the opposing team to get good looks against.

Will the Bulls go to similar looks again tonight?    The only real weak links on this team defensively are Boozer and Korver.   Both played considerably fewer minutes than their average last game.

Luol Deng has been suffocating Joe Johnson lately, and the Bulls have been successful defending Johnson with Derrick Rose as well.   Look for the Bulls to continue to try and force someone other than JJ to beat them.

Who's in the rotation?

Obviously Derrick Rose and Luol Deng will get their 40+ minutes, but how will the rest of the pieces fill in?   Kyle Korver barely played last game.  Carlos Boozer's minutes were way down.   Gibson, Brewer, and Asik were way up.

At this point, I'd look to play Gibson over Boozer for as much as possible.  I understand not wanting to snub Carlos, but his turf toe has considerably lessened what he's able to do out there.  It's to the point where Gibson simply looks better on both ends of the court.

I'd like to see a heavier dose of Korver than we saw last game, but Kyle can't continue to shoot as poorly as he did and still get minutes.  His spacing helps the team, but he's still got to knock down shots.

If the Bulls jump out to an early lead, it wouldn't surprise me to see Chicago go with a heavy defensive mix and slow down the game, forcing the Hawks to hit a lot of shots under heavy duress to make a comeback.

Own the glass

The Bulls personnel should again have a huge advantage on the glass.   When Chicago gets offensive rebounds in quantity it compensates for what can be an anemic offense at times. 

Taj, Boozer, and Noah should continue to crash the glass hard on offense while our guards sprint back to help cover on defense.

Swing the ball side to side

Atlanta is athletic, but they aren't all that disciplined defensively.   If the Bulls can make accurate passes from side to side then they'll open up all kinds of holes for their offense to operate in.   They  need to avoid getting too static and standing around watching Rose bail them out.

Though it hasn't been a problem, Rose needs to continue to trust in his teammates and be ready to get the ball back when he passes it off as he frequently finds more space when receiving the ball from an interior pass.

Final thoughts

The Hawks have made this series far more difficult than the Pacers series, and while I've never really felt the Bulls were in danger of losing, the Hawks certainly have enough talent to take down the Bulls if Chicago shows up with its B game.

Hopefully that doesn't happen tonight, and Chicago Rolls on to the ECF.

Comments

Leave a comment
  • an enjoyable read for those of you looking ahead to the heat series.

    http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/LeBron-James-Dwyane-Wade-Chris-Bosh-Miami-Heat-are-no-match-for-Derrick-Rose-Chicago-Bulls-051211

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Def a good read. I read that article earlier today. I don't always agree with Whitlock, but all the reasons he said the Heat are no match for the Bulls are exactly the reasons why I think the Bulls still have as good of a chance as the Heat to win. Despite not playing their best so far this postseason, he summed up why they can still beat the Heat pretty well.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    what? you like Tirico better than Dick Stockton? You're crazy!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Dick Stockton is the worst.

    Tirico is one of my favorite play by play guys. He calls a good game, has a good energy level. I think it's really tough being a play by play guy, because you're really just describing something we're all watching.

    The color guy is where the analysis comes in, and Hubie Brown is one of my favorites. I also love Steve Kerr, and Doug Collins was the bomb before he started coaching again.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    + 1 googleplex on both accounts, hope you got the sarcasm. Tirico is my fav too

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I was done with Dickie Boy when called Drose, David Rose!!! Arghhhh... What a joke...

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Stockton is pathetic and needs to be retired. Tirico is a total pro and excellent if not as exciting as a guy like Kevin Harlan.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I'm looking for Korver to get out of his mini funk here

  • In reply to BigWay:

    a good read, but he lost me saying LeBron-Wade was better than Jordan-Pippen. Pippen still continues to not get the respect he deserves

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    couple other problems I had with his piece:

    -he said Boston wins with healthy Rondo. We don't know that, what we know is they lost the 1st 2 games
    when Rondo was healthy
    -He says Rose will chew up Bibby & Chalmers. On what planet will Bibby be guarding Rose? They'll have Wade & James on him plenty, will guard him using the whole team, and force the Bulls SG to beat them, which won't happen. Also, at times Chamlmers has given Rose problems. I still like Rose to play like the MVP, but it won't be because Miami is bad at defending PG's.

    However I do agree:
    -That Miami spent themselves emotionally beating the Celtics. Where is their focus? They celebated like it meant something.

    Chicago-Miami, I can't wait either Witlock, unlike reading another one of your columns

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    also about defending Rose, the Heat have an excellent video scouting team, sure they are not missing the fact that Rose has been predominantly scoring going to his right

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I was somewhat surprised by his point of view, because I assumed that he was a Heat lover.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I assumed he was a cock lover, that held true

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    the bulls win if Korver and Boozer never set foot on the court at the same time.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    The Bulls just need a four-quarter effort, and Thibs needs to do what he finally learned to do last game: reward players who are performing, and not stick with his set rotations if they're not working. If so, Bulls in a romp.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Boozer has to play BIG for the Bulls tonight. Also The Bulls hAve to slow down Jeff Teague. If they do, its a wrap...

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Looks like we have Boozer back!!! Two early buckets!!!

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Boozy Boozy. I always had confidence in you *cough cough*.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    It looks like Boozer had some Atlanta "Booze"

  • In reply to BigWay:

    BOOZER!!

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Kill their spirit...that's what it needs to be

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Good start from the bulls. They are moving the ball well and most of all boozer is finishing.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    just in time for Miami

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    yeah, hope they keep going like it ! we need boozer to show up against heat.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Great team effort so far. Love the fact the team is attacking with so much balance. They just need to keep the pressure on.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Ouch Jeff Teague down, didn't look good.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Well Jeff teague is done...That was just as nasty as Rondo's injury. Ooooch, Owwwch!!

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Korver finally hits a shot! Hope that s a sign of good things to come!!!

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Probably worse because it was on the legs.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Great Start!!! Great Balance!!! Great Defense!!! Who Got DaBest Record in Da East? It's Chi all day long!!!

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Hopefully they stick to this game plan and don't revert to "everyone watch Rose play 1 on 5".

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Great 1st qtr. Continue at this level and it will be a warm-up for the HEAT on sunday

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I think Korver/Brewer are both due for decent games offensively.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Yea, Jalen Rose and the crew on the ESPN pregame just did the same thing, saying that Wade Lebron combo is better than Jordan Pippen, and that both wade and Lebron are better than Pippen.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    ridiculous

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Scottie would shut down both of them

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Bulls second unit taking terrible shots, but locking down the D.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Bench Mob getting good lokks but can't buy a shot right now.

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Not a fan of all the long twos.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    especially early in the shot clock

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    This could be a 10-6 qtr at this rate lol. Bench Mob need better looks but again Omer is being a monster in there.

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Bulls putting on a defense SHOOWWW!

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Boozers clowning the Hawks!!!

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Boozer's good game will start all the pundits predicting the Bulls over the Heat in 5;-)

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Well, the Bulls team of the last three quarters looks like they can hang with the Heat at least.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I love the Bulls playing like this!

    But PLEASE keep the foot on the throat; no let up now.

    They have the FOCUS (Reese) but have to maintain it for the next 30 mins and into the ECF

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I'm starting to understand how boozer works. He must be kept out of foul trouble. When he's in foul trouble, he isn't in the flow of the game !!

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Hey, I'm glad that he has hit a few shots, but he is only proving what I've said all along, he is not a low post threat/presence, he is a fade away jump shooter.

    while, that is certainly a skill that has some value, but jump shooting teams that don't play D don't win championships.

    And if you can't hit your shots jsut because you keep making the same stupid fouls every game then you are simply feeble minded, not exactly a championship calibre trait.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    +100

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Not sure I would have Korver on Johnson at this point, not sure he should even be in

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Have to agree with you. The way the front line is playing we can have Ronnie in there on Crawford

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    I mean Johnson

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Or Bring back Omer he'll shut him down lol

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    i would take bogans at this point

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Korver doing his best edward scissor hands immitation.on defense and offense.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Gotta keep him off the court in the second half.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    somebody wake Thibs up in the second half, Korver and Boozer together is a disaster waiting to happen. Thank god we got that charge call late, it could have gone the other way and it is a 7 point game.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Korver's not catching the ball in rhythm. Spacing has to be better for him to shoot. I feel he's got to get to the right spots he's not doing that.

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    I know that he has a quick release, but he seems to be rushing his shots.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    17 assists on 20 baskets. The team looks soooo much better when we don't have to rely on Derrick's 1 on 5 offence

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Rose still had a couple of possessions where he got tunnel vision missing guys wide open at the 3 while driving into 3 guys and forcing up a bad shot.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I'm feeling good about this game at the half. As long as the Bulls start out strong like they did in the first quarter then MIA is all ours!

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    Dude... Do you know where Neptune really is?

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Yep! Far enough for me to still catch Bulls games! hahaha!

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    I'd still like to see some Noah and Asik to together.

    In fact when Atlanta plays big(Johnson at the 2) I's like to see Rose, Deng, Taj, Noah and Asik.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I think Thibs will def finish the game with Taj tonight. When Taj was subbed off after playing only 5 mins Thibs had a quiet word with him and I bet it was "you'll get your mins in the second half"

  • In reply to BigWay:

    DRose Getting Buckets!!!

  • In reply to BigWay:

    BULLS D'ing ATL outta the DAMN GAME!!!

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Think Hubie Brown would want to be a Bulls assistant? He usually is right on with his ingame analysis

  • In reply to BigWay:

    is atlanta wising up, just attack whichever guy Boozer is guarding.

    with this big lineup Atlanta has an advantage at 3 positions on the offensive end.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Can we get Hubie as our Offensive coach next year?

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Boozers killing em!!

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Glad he's gettin his mojo back. We'll need him against the heat

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    I think Booz has asked DWill to have a word with Derrick about how to run the high pick and pop. Excellent offensive execution

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Great Acting by "Oscar" Asik!!!

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    nice of boozer to not box out Pachuilla to give up t he offensive rebound then get out of smiths way to allow Asik to pick up the foul, but hey he is trying his best, he's got turf toe.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    if he plays like this on offense I cant bring myself to rip him

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Bosh must be having nightmares thinking about Asik right now...

  • In reply to BigWay:

    deng looked like a truck towing a load up a mountain on that break.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    bigway you sure have alot negative comments for quite possibly their best playoff performance.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    just call em as I see em, I don't where Rose colored glasses.

    This a quality win, but Atlanta is a stupid team, and we still had to struggle to beat them.

    The Heat will play a lot smarter than the Hawks do.

    and really, am I any different than Thibs himself, he doesn't quit on any play or allow his players(except for Boozer) to do so either.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    One more Quarter to Go!! Then on to the Miami (C)Heat!!!

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Bring'em on. If we play like this against them there is nothing to fear

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    DRose done stratched his back!!!

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    DRose done stratched his back!!!

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Just owning them on both ends, hopefully this keeps up against the Heat!

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Scratched that is!!

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Wow...If there is a player who makes an impact without scoring, it is Asik. It is amazing for a rookie to be so good on defense.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    +100

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I have to admit, I'm in bed (it is 310am here) watching online with a MASSIVE smile on my face.

    ITS GREAT TO BE A BULLS FAN

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    it sure is buddy, it sure is!

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    I hear Tirico's voice like Costas's voice in 1998 that "The Chicago Bulls are going to their first NBA finals since 1998 and LeBron James and the Miami Heat have to wait and think what went wrong to get his first ring"

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Can we let Miami "borrow" Jamal Crawford for the next round...I think his +/- for this game was -17, I would hate to see what it was for the entire series

  • In reply to HollywoodKole:

    yep, he blows

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    really Korver and Boozer together again.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Thibs putting in Korver to give him some confidence before the Miami series

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Gimme da hot sauce!!!

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Gimme da hot sauce!!!

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    ok pull starters and keep them healthy, lets get Butler some run

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Agree no more ankle tweaks in the last 2 secs of the game please

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Hilton Armstrong, has there been a guy on Atlanta who hasn't scored while being "guarded" by Boozer.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Oh yeah, the Atlanta frontcourt dominated this game....or not.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    What a relief to see this kind of a performance from the Bulls. I can now look forward to the Heat series with anticipation and not trepidation ;)

  • In reply to brayo:

    I am stocking up on antacids as we speak.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    absolutely agree, something that I pointed out in the early weeks when he could barely buy a minute.

    Note to unstopabull, I don't have a lot negative to say about Asik, do I.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Bulls shuttin' down the ATL at their crib!!! Bringing D, buckets, pain and tears. We going to the Eastern Conference Finals!!! It's time to bow down to Thibs,DRose and the BULLS!!!

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Now, that is the way to play defense in the playoffs, anybody want to argue which side of our bread is buttered

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Why aren't the Bulls partying? After watching last night I thought that's what you do when you win a playoff series.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    LOL, I know, DRose should have been crying out there hugging the ball!

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    great game for the bulls !! even if they get eliminated in the next round, we're all pleased of the season because bulls arrive where they were supposed to in others words in the ECF !!

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Eliminated? We want the whole enchilada. The whole thing. Are you just satified with the ECF? Dude, we can beat the (C)Heat. They have no one who guard Derrick Rose. Bogans and Brewer will handle Wade. Lu will handle LeCry. Who's gonna handle Rose? Case closed....

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    case closed

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Hilton Armstrong is a joke. You guys see those shennanigans on the free throw line? Who does that? I guess the same guy who meaninglessly steals the ball during the closing seconds of a blowout.

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    what if they double Rose ? who is going to step up for the bulls behind Rose ??

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Deng, Boozer, Taj, Noah, Watson, Korver...whoever is open

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    ok, i really hope you're right.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    This was the Boozer we've been looking for. And this was the defensive team we've been looking for. Some people are talking about how bad Atlanta is but I think it's more about how good the Bulls are when they play with a sense of urgency.

  • In reply to magestew:

    I meant to say "the defensive team we expect."

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    I'm just worried about getting a fair shake from the refs. If we have to play 5 v 8 all series, it's gonna be tough.

  • In reply to Ufficio:

    that's a legitimate concern

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Wow, tough night for Bigway, Boozer had a good game. Don't kick the dog now.

  • In reply to dreverts:

    lmfao

  • In reply to dreverts:

    Is everyone feeling better now? Everyone relaxed?

    Should be, we saw some great team ball tonight, and if you think that was good, just wait til the Heat series.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I do feel more relaxed. While I want them to keep winning any loss before the ECF would have been hugely disappointing. That being said, losing to Miami might suck even worse.

  • In reply to walrus:

    it really would be. I hate those guys.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I like it. It's like they expect to win and they have unfinished business. God, I hope they beat Miami.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    He's the best defender on the team. If he got the minutes he could be all NBA D one day.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Great all-around effort by the Bulls. If Rose gets this kind of help, we've got a real shot at this thing.

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    OMERRR!!! Da Turkish Hamma'!!!

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    TURKISH HAMMER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Asik and Destroy, Baby

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Stadium Cushion Seat
    This cushion seat very versatile , with many features. It open up to form a seat with avery comfortable back which has a lumbar support.
    The straps can be adjusted to make a straight back or slightly relaxed and it can be opened flat for aseat to accommodate two people. When used by
    one person , there is a large pocket on the front (attached to the seat) which will hold your newspapper, magazine or favorite novel. Attached to this
    pocket are there compartments which conveniently hold a cell phone or ipad . This has a flap which closes with velcro. Another holds yuor beverage
    can , and lastly there is apocket for a purse-size tissue packet. This pocket also has a mesh zippered compartment for stamps, for stamps, loose change
    or bills. This gives quick access to money for those much needed refreshments while at your favorite game. The back side of the seat has a place for a
    small stadium blanket or a light wind breaker. This is also fastened by velcro. This handy seat also gose nicely in your car for those long trips when you
    need that extra comfort. Then when you get to your destination- be it pleasure or business- just fold it up and you have a convenient carrying case for
    your laptop or ipad and the above mentioned pockets are on the other side again for quick and easy access. When folded it measures about 161/2" x
    161/2" x 3" so it will take up very little space. Asyou can see, this unigue item will go anywhere with you -professional ballgames, Nascar races and most
    importantly to your favorite star's high school ball games. So go to http://sportscollectiblesandmemorabilia.net or straight to website warehouse http://
    starjgifts.com for all your favorite College teams or Major league Baseball,Soccer, Football,Hockey,Basketball and Nascar. The seat prices $15.98 to $22.49
    a big variety of Stadium Cushion Seats to choose from.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    got to give it to the Bulls front office for putting together a team with quality backups at every position

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    and not trading them away (yet)

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Id like to see it against Miami to deter the driving at times

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Maybe he's sick of being mistaken for Ashton Kutcher and wants to be Johnny Depp?

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Your Nuttts!!!

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Ok Boozer I will give you some love..Taj cant hit some of those shots...yet

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I feel dumber for having read that.

    His article is largely about how Miami didn't look dominant enough against Boston, but the excuses he makes for Boston are silly.

    The Heat smacked them around and have plenty of time to recharge their emotional batteries. At earliest, the teams play Sunday which will be 3 full days off for them.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I didn't say that I agreed with the guy, I thought that the we are going to beat the heat easily crowd would get even more confidence from the article.

Leave a comment