The Chicago Bulls fell to the Atlanta Hawks in game four. It was a must win for Atlanta and a 'like to win' for Chicago. Both teams generally played that way.
The Hawks switched up their defensive strategy switching to a more physical, Indiana style defense on him, pressing him hard on the perimeter and no longer giving him the jump shot.
Derrick Rose adjusted by moving the ball frequently, but still managed to hoist up 32 shots, only connecting on 12.
The refs not helping out the Bulls much
Down the stretch, the game is knotted up with four minutes to go. There were four calls that all likely should have been made in the Bulls favor that weren't. An obvious missed charged on Atlanta, two layup attempts by Rose, and the inadvertent whistle on the three which should have been a real whistle.
The refs after the game agreed that they screwed the Bulls on the inadvertent whistle at least. A poorly reffed final four minutes cost the Bulls as many as nine points, but poor defense and missed shots cost them more. Leading one to wonder...
The Derrick Rose to Allen Iverson comparison is scary isn't it
The Bulls offense has really failed to click, and so far in the series, Derrick Rose has been held to games of 10/27, 11/27, and 12/32. That's right around 38% for those games and that number isn't particularly appealing.
The numbers, however, aren't so bad as they look though. When Rose gets the ball up on the rim off the dribble, the Bulls get a ton of offensive rebounds on his misses. He command so much defensive attention on the drive that the offensive rebound lanes are frequently open. That's one of the primary reasons why the Bulls are such a deadly offensive rebounding team.
He also passed off to his shooters frequently in the game, but they didn't knock down shots. Deng was 5/14, Korver was 1/8. Boozer was 7/10, but you never felt that Boozer could have done tons more than he did and needed more looks.
Right now, Rose's game is remarkably similar to Iverson during the season in which the 76ers went all the way to the finals. He's throwing up a ton of shots at a relatively low percentage, generating a ton of free throws, and getting the kitchen sink thrown at him on defense. The Bulls are hoping that one man can create enough offense to win while their defense shuts down the other team.
Josh Smith and Al Horford made the difference for Atlanta
The key player in this game was Smith, but getting Horford involved on offense made a difference as well. The Bulls over-committed to the perimeter, and the Hawks big men made the Bulls pay for it. They had open looks on the interior off of quick passing as the Bulls tried to double team Johnson/Crawford outside.
I said it before, don't over-commit to those guys and let the big men beat you. It's always better to give up the perimeter shot than the interior shot. The Bulls defense will need to make some adjustments before next game.
They also let the Hawks get out in transition / early offense frequently, and the quick baskets killed Chicago who struggled to defend in the open court.
However, I do like the fact that the Bulls put Josh Smith in the role of primary decision maker, even though it worked for Atlanta this game. As noted, I didn't like the overcommitment on the perimeter that led to open dunks, but you can't always shut down everyone.
If Josh Smith has to play at an extremely high level with great decision making for Atlanta to win, then at least you denied their strength, but you need to keep him on the perimeter while doing so.
The Bulls now face a 'must-win' game five at home on Tuesday. I would have hoped they could have come back with a 3-1 lead, but they weren't able to play well. What scares me more than the legitimate possibility that Atlanta takes this series is that the way they're losing games will be exploited even worse by Miami.
The Bulls have not been able to contain Atlanta in transition and have been sloppy with the ball. Those are the two things that make the Heat the most dangerous as they're virtually unstoppable in the open court.
For the Bulls to win this thing, they need to get a handle on their transition defense and knock down open jumpers. Games where they fail to do both are losses. Game four was such a game.