Bulls defense smothers the Hawks - Chicago is ECF bound

Tom Thibodeau was about as upbeat as I've ever seen him in the post game press conference.   That's because the Bulls threw out a defense that was absolutely extraordinary.   Chicago clamped down on the Hawks in a way few teams ever clamp down on anyone.

It wasn't  matter of Atlanta missing shots.   Atlanta had only a handful of good looks all game.   The Bulls showed a lightning like double team, trapping anyone with the ball, but recovering to the open man too fast for Atlanta to do anything.

Carlos Boozer got his groove back

We've been complaining about Carlos Boozer for awhile, however, Boozer drilled his jumper over and over and over.   The Boozer/Rose pick and roll was a thing of beauty tonight, working better than it has all year long.

I'm still fairly nervous about Boozer as he was getting most of his points off jumpers, so I'm not sure he has the lift back fully yet.  However, he has looked more fluid in the last couple of games which is a good sign.

The Bulls have until Sunday to rest, so Boozer will get a couple more days for the toe to hear prior to the matchup against Miami.   The Bulls will need Boozer to play at a high level to get past Miami.

Sharing the ball

The Bulls interior passing in this game was unparalleled.  They were able to make all the short littler interior passes to yield dunk after dunk when they got the ball inside.   Everyone was getting into the action.   The Bulls finished with an amazing 34 assists out of 41 made shots.

Derrick Rose had been criticized for taking too many shots, but he took only 14 shots tonight, his lowest total in the series.  However, he had 12 assists, and probably another 5 hockey assists.  

Luol Deng took a nasty spill early

However, he stayed in the game and played well.  He was a huge contributor in both defense and passing and blanketed Joe Johnson for most of the night.  I really liked Deng's movement tonight.  He only finished 6/14, but he had some phenomenal passes tonight to set up easy shots for his teammates.

Taj Gibson continues to dominate

Taj just looks like an amazing player.  Do you remember when he was drafted.  The nickname Taj "not Blair" Gibson was formed.   Anyone second guessing that one now?  

I love Taj in at the end of games to close.  His offense has been much improved, and his defense has been incredible.

Final thoughts

Tonight is a night to celebrate.   The Bulls are ECF bound and will face the Miami Heat.  With a couple days off until game time, I'll write plenty on that matchup separately.  

This Bulls team has had its struggles in the playoffs, but it's entering this next series as hot as they've earn all year long.

Comments

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  • Not really much to say about this one...just a nice ass kicking. Bring this defense Sunday night Bulls. Beat the Heat!

  • In reply to BearDown1982:

    bring it every night, its the ECF do or die.

  • Great closeout game by the Bulls and Boozer stepped up with a big game and he's looking better. If the Bulls can keep the momentum going on defense and especially on the offensive end, Miami will have big problems. That's the type of game that will quite a lot of critics including me. All the Bulls really have to do is take care of the home court and they will be OK. But hopefully they can get a win in Miami too.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I'm hoping they can win both game 1 & 2 at home, but its tough to win both of those. Might have to take a temporary loss of home court advantage & kick their ass in Miami

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Yeah, there's a good chance they'll split those first two games. And then just watch as the chicken littles start chirping.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    94% of the time a team takes games 1 & 2 they take the series, so I hope they win the first two at home as well, but that won't be easy.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Well da Bulls have done it. Done what you might ask? They have achieved what we all hoped they would achieve at the start of the season. The most optimistic of us had the ECF as the goal so the Bulls have fulfilled that expectation.

    BUT

    As the season went on through the Carlos and Joakim injuries; through the starting SG debate (remember even Derrick told Obama we don't have a starting SG); through the fouling troubles of Omer; through the "struggles" of Keith from the open 3s a real gem has formed.

    A 62-10 win season
    A MVP
    A COY
    An Exec of Year
    The Bench Mob (http://www.benchmob.com/)
    The Hot Sauce
    The Turkish Hammer
    Raining Cherry Pies from the Sky

    and

    Too Fast, Too Strong, Too Good.

    This season being a fan has been like being a parent watching your son/daughter grow into the person you always hoped they would be. You have seen growth in so many areas but they have remained focused with life; humble and the child any parent yearns to have. We now sit waiting for them to show what the are really capable of achieving. We will be happy if the journey ends now because they have achieved what we originally had hoped for but now the next test is for them. Anything more than ECF will be a bonus. We will not stop supporting them if they fail but we now believe they can achieve more. They are against the kid of the loud mouthed Country Club President who has done everything to support their arrogant equally loud mouthed child. How much sweeter is victory when it is against that sort of person? This is the situation EVERY parent or fan wishes for in life. The opportunity to shut up the arrogance.
    We will say the right things: do your best, you have done so well this year, I'm really proud of you for what you have achieved already; BUT underneath this we will be saying: Please just once, go and shut the little f*+k

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Nicely said, shut those little fukers up!

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    The Heatles are definately spoiled, entitled little brats.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Will we see the Noah Asik front line this series?

    Do we have a nickname for this combo?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    JoaOmer?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    How about "The Cameroonian Hammer"?

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Speak the Truth Brother. The only thing they will truly understand is a good punch to the mouth, to let them know they are not god's gift to the earth, but just spoiled kids who act like they have some sort of Entitlement... "King James", Yeah right, give me a break. Let's stomp these punks.

  • The difference on defense tonight was quickness, all around. Maybe KK dribbled a little hot sauce into everyone's shorts. Everyone was bouncing around with some serious energy. They were seriously motivated. I hope they find a way to keep it. If they do, Miami could have trouble.

  • In reply to bfranke:

    rotflmfao!

  • In reply to bfranke:

    This is what we've been waiting for, since last July to be precise! Bring it on! Let's Ball!

  • In reply to bfranke:

    Im a die hard bull fan living in Miami my whole life this is my NBA finals go get em bulls

  • In reply to bfranke:

    What I don't get is that there are still doubters. On and on I see the constant whining about how Boozer is completely useless, which is a gross overstatement, and just smacks of a person having made up their mind that they just hate the guy and want him to fail to prove their bias.

    That gloomy disbelief goes for the team as a whole, as well. As soon as the team hits a road bump, out come the doubters with their "I told you so" crap, pointing out any flaw, real or perceived, just so they can boast how they're smarter than Thibs, or Pax, or Forman. Hey, here's a newsflash, it's the playoffs. The Bulls aren't going to go undefeated on the way to a title. That doesn't mean you jump ship with any sign of adversity. Jesus Christ. How about some mental toughness? Belief in your team? Do you think any of the players or coaches think that way? If they did, then they'd join you on the "we're not good enough" parade.

    And f*** that's just homer bullshit talk. It's not about being blindly loyal, it's about knowing objectively that this Bulls team is one tough muthaf*****, and doesn't quit. Here's the difference between the two teams: the Heat

  • In reply to zentastic:

    have great individual talent, but their team play is severely lacking, and they're mentally weak, so when real adversity hits them, they'll fold. The Bulls? They won't. That's the difference.

  • In reply to zentastic:

    Super agree!

  • In reply to zentastic:

    Since Bulls drafted Gibson about 10 spots after James Johnson - it makes you wonder how good Paxson & Forman expected Johnson to be.
    What a major disappointment JJ turned out to be. I'm sad we didnt take Blair with the pick

  • In reply to bulls6:

    The Bulls could have taken a lot of guys who could have been more useful: Teague, Beaubois, Lawson etc..
    I liked JJ and he would have been a perfect fit for this team as a backup SF(ideally playing Ronnie Brewer's position with more shooting).
    Atleast they got a pick back and they have the luxury of deciding on how to use it now based on need

  • In reply to bulls6:

    I'm a lot more impressed by how the bulls close out series than I am with how Miami does. I came away from the Miami series feeling like Boston lost the series more than Miami won it. The win last night was a bigger statement than anything Miami has done so far.

  • In reply to bulls6:

    I hear you on that! I'm a big Blair fan and we could of used his scrappy big body in there off the bench!

    JJ had some huge expectations but we didn't have the time and he didn't listen and learn fast enough...kind of a Tyrus Thomas guys with tons of potential but not consistent enough! Josh Smith is like that for the Hawks too!

  • In reply to bulls6:

    Awesome closeup game by the Bulls in Atlanta!
    So nice to see Rose get the help and be a PG instead of Jesus walking on water and carrying the entire team by himself!
    This was one of the best games from Boozer I can remember this year!

  • In reply to zentastic:

    The continued strong play of Asik and Gibson in the playoffs further illustrates why us fans behind our desktops, laptops and smartphones should just let the GMs do their jobs. A number of Bulls' fans (including myself) wanted to see Forman & Paxson deal either Gibson or Asik in order to upgrade the SG position. Granted the Bulls' offensive droughts and over dependence on D Rose are still worrisome, however, the Bulls do not win game 5 without the strong defensive front court play of Asik and Gibson. Props to Forman & Paxson for have enough guts to make a choice that everyone (fans, writers, and analysts included) bashed them for because we all wanted to see the Bulls make a move at the deadline.

  • In reply to stepbackJ:

    Bogans plays solid d as does brewer but Bogans offese show up what? 15-20% of the time? Having a SG who could play D and show up 60-80% would also really help the Bulls. Look how well we do when Bogans plays well, thinking of the six point or more record, and that is just six measly points. Imagine someone who could score 10 on a nightly basis. I love Gibson and Asik but they are certainly not untouchable. If we could get someone for picks and one of the guards that would be ideal.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    The problem with trading Asik or Gibson is Asik kind of fills in a little bit of Noah's weaknesses(size) and Gibson takes care of defense which is Boozer's issue.
    So, they are making it a complete team. Same with Brewer and Korver for Bogans. Basically, the bench mob is more of a "fill in the gaps" mob except for CJ(even he is actually a better 3 pt shooter than Rose).
    I agree though watching Bogans kind of makes you feel whatif. The reason we feel it is because it seems so easy to get a decent SG(lots of them available) compared to getting an upgrade at any other position.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    "Asik kind of fills in a little bit of Noah's weaknesses(size)."

    Schamburgfan, you will never go away.

    Noah's height is 6 ft. 11 in., a conservative estimate according to the books.
    Dwight Howard is the same height. Admittedly, Howard, who has lived in a gym using all sorts on muscle building equipment for most of his life, has a monster frame. Noah's frame is naturally built. He doesn't need any muscle enhancer, and thank God he hasn't bowed to that.
    Asik is taller, but not by much as opposed to Howard and Noah. Asik is listed as 7 ft., an inch taller. Physically he's not a monster, so where did this overpowering freak come from. Obviously it came from your silly minds!

  • In reply to stepbackJ:

    Hopefully the Bulls will raise their level of play now, since they're playing MIA. I also hope Korver's shots start falling. He was in a bit of a shooting slump before one of the regular season games against the Heat, but he found his touch again and got really hot and hit the game winner for us. I hope he can become a big factor for us in this series, cause we're gonna need everyone to bring their A game.

  • In reply to zentastic:

    Amen, brother.

  • In reply to zentastic:

    I am very encouraged by the minutes Thibs has given Asik these last two games. I

  • In reply to Edward:

    Could not have said it better myself, and I have been saying exactly that all season, Frontline size and depth wins in the playoffs, and will be especially important against the heat.

    We have to turn Wade, Lebron and Bosh into jump shooters.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Anybody wish that we had Courtney lee now.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Yes, if we could have got him for just picks

  • In reply to Edward:

    You got it regarding Asik and Gibson. The hilarious thing is that many opposing fan bases, and even some commentators, have NO IDEA how good Gibson and Asik are. Bosh will probably beg his coach to come out of the game when Booz gets subbed, just so he doesn't have to face them. :)

    It's incredibly encouraging that Thibs is finally giving these guys, along with Brewer, big minutes. They're our 3 best defenders, even better than Noah and Deng, and defense is what will win against the Heat. Ultimately, Boston couldn't get enough stops against Wade and James, but the Bulls can do it.

    After JJ and Crawford lit the Bulls up in game 1, Thibs masterfully designed a plan to shut them down . . . and that happened for the rest of the series. Now the next challenge awaits. The Bulls are ready.

  • In reply to ethanboldt:

    I'm tired of you (Curious E), Richard and Edward trying to divide this team by pitting players against each other in an effort to promote one at the expense of the other.
    Maybe you're both from Turkey and are hoping Noah would just be minimized and go away to the benefit of your idol Asik. This is evil and damaging. I would really like to know your true origin. Every now and then you cleverly try to show balance by throwing in names like Gibson and Deng. Notice, nowhere is the name of Noah brought up.
    Curious E, did you really say Asik, Gibson and Brewer are our best defenders? Are you insane or just a little idiot?
    Richard, I'm shocked that you have a daughter. Your opinions are that of an excited child!

  • In reply to Edward:

    It's too bad that Boston allowed them to really get confident but a strong start by the Bulls in this series will show how strong mentally and as a team Miami really is. I see a lot of disfunction in Miami the first sign, or maybe second sign, of adversity.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Turkish Stud

    Is that an oxymoron or what?

    But it's true. On defense, Asik is a stud. On offense he's the Turkish Wall.

    It was a great team victory. I just happen to ben Asik fan (my daughter gave me an Asik jersey for my birthday.)

  • In reply to Edward:

    Thibodeau is Amazing

    First, a great team victory.

    Rose had his game face minutes before tip off while Atlanta Hawks are dancing and pre-gaming on the sidelines.

    We owe Boozer an apology. For this one night, and hopefully more, he was the offensive threat we had hoped for.

    Luol (my back doesn't hurt, much) Deng and the rest of the team was magnificent. The Bulls go 11 deep with experienced players. Only Rasul Butler is a bit new to the mix, but he can play also.

    And finally, Coach Thibodeaux. During this series, Coach Thibs has experimented with line-ups more than anyone I can remember. Instead of shortening the rotation, he lengthened it. Mad dog defense and team offense from 11 experienced Bulls players. In the fourth quarter I couldn't help but think that Coach Thibodeau was mixing up his lineup to "assign" Coach Erik Spoelstra "extra homework" in preparing for the Bulls.

    What a wonderful season.

  • In reply to rkraneis:

    Nice points on Thibs. Watching him this season has been intriguing. Remember when most of us were screaming about the "hockey line changes"?

    Thibs had a plan back then & stuck to it.

    Can't wait to see what he has up his sleeve for the "real playoffs".

  • In reply to zentastic:

    Agree 100 %

    Bulls gonna get that 7th banner this year

  • In reply to zentastic:

    Well Said! I'm with you Zen. Lets Go Bulls!

  • got a good chuckle out of "Carlos got his groove back"

  • COMPLETELY AGREE about Asik and Gibson!!! See my post below.

  • Agreed.

    Push those chuckers to the outside where they can admire their form but see their shots rim out.

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