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NBA Playoffs: Derrick Rose breaks free, torches Hawks for 44 in Game 3 win

May 7, 2011, 12:41 AM EDT

Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks - Game Three Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks managed to bother Derrick Rose in the first two games of this series by using their bigs to clog the middle of the floor on Chicago’s screen-and-rolls, but Rose seemed to have an epiphany of sorts in Game 3; rather than play conservatively in an attempt to exploit the Atlanta defense with a perfect pass to the open man through the stilted defense, Rose attacked that floating coverage and forced the Hawks to convert deterrence into actual defense. It didn’t quite add up for the Hawks, and the lightning-fast Rose kept his head up and his dribble alive in order to shift all the pressure on Atlanta’s passive defensive front. Once he established a rhythm on floaters, the rest of Rose’s game came easily; 44 points from the MVP later, the Bulls walked off the court with an easy 99-82 win, and a 2-1 series advantage.

The Bulls didn’t shoot extremely well from the field overall (46.8 percent from the field) considering their level of offensive success (Chicago scored at a rate of 125.3 points per 100 possessions), but Rose’s incredible efficiency, the team’s accuracy from three-point range, and another strong offensive rebounding performance provided the Bulls with all they needed to thump the Hawks. Atlanta isn’t quite reeling, but they’re going to have to revive their inexplicable rebounding prowess from Game 1, or tweak their strategy to keep Rose under wraps, or do something drastic to shift the balance of this series. As the better team, Chicago had the opportunity to stay the course; their defense was going to come around, as was Rose. But after two losses, Atlanta has lost merely by being who they are.

We know the characters and sadly, the plot of this series, barring a rewrite. The Bulls are a team defined by their diligence, and the Hawks a team defined by their vices. Rose will go to work against the Hawks defense, Joakim Noah will scrap his way to every offensive board in sight. Chicago’s defense will grind and grind and grind, and the Hawks’ offense will settle and settle and settle. Josh Smith will keep taking long jumpers to a chorus of boos from his home fans. Joe Johnson will stop the ball. Atlanta will work away from everything that works, and even when they get a productive night from Jeff Teague or a more balanced scoring effort than they’re accustomed, a team in Atlanta’s position is forever left wanting more. They’re not without hope, but as an outmatched team facing an elite club with a truly amazing player (the best in the league, according to MVP voters), they’re also without a foundation for victory should all things remain constant.

  1. valman61 - May 7, 2011 at 2:12 AM

    To Mr. Rob Mahoney,

    I am a relatively new follower to your blog and also a reborn follower of basketball. I am a Knicks fan and also purchased an iPad around Christmas. So upon purchasing my iPad, I also downloaded the sports talk app for my favorite site which covers my favorite sport. Profootballtalk. Coincidentally, the Knicks got melo and I started following the NBA again and i want to reenforce the point that I am now following the entire NBA playoffs closely. Not just the Knicks. I am a 27 year old male who is literally attempting to use your blog the same way I do pft, To tell me everything I need to know about basketball today with an interesting opinion, fact, or statistic which will make your blog better to read than watching highlights or reading a box score.

    Enough about me. In regards to your (teams) blog I really like your opinions and am particularly intrigued by the cool stats you write about, including the research I imagine it must take to write the posts you do. All of these facts are why I am taking the time to write this.

    What is holding you back from being the go to place for me is the lack of real time updates. For instance tonight, the lakers game ended over an hour ago and yet nothing is posted. I understand it’s late, but I work a full time day job and I’m still up to write this. I won’t pretend to know the operations of your business/blog, but please attempt to cover the sport, especially the playoffs, in a timely fashion. It’s essential for a fan like myself who tonight wants to read an article analyzing the game, but tomorrow may only care to know the score. It’s your business, but my suggestion is to cover games within 15 mins of ending with a nice summary and your initial thoughts of the game for the playoffs.

    I truly enjoy your posts which fed my desire to write this comment. I have other ideas also and if your interested in hearing them contact me.

    Best regards,

    Nick V

  2. liltmac2003 - May 7, 2011 at 3:43 AM

    I don’t know what happened with the Hawks. From the very opening second of the game, they just didn’t have any energy. I’m assuming that’s why Coach Drew called a timeout within a minute since the game started.

    Bulls defense really stepped up. Atlanta also had no answer with Derrick Rose. He was unstoppable. It seemed he got every shot he wanted and it went in.

  3. gmsingh - May 7, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    Suddenly the probability of playing the Heat in the next round doesn’t look that bad.

  4. Gordon - May 7, 2011 at 10:16 AM

    As a Bulls fan, all I can say is “Thank God for Josh Smith!” he takes so many bad shots, it killed every comeback they started to make.

    • gmsingh - May 7, 2011 at 6:42 PM

      Josh Smith reminds me of Boozer, except Boozer is smart enough not to try those outside shots.

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