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NBA Playoffs: Bulls have questions to answer to avoid Game 7

May 12, 2011, 4:16 PM EDT

Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose drives to the net on Atlanta Hawks' Josh Smith during Game 5 of their NBA Eastern Conference second round playoff basketball game in Chicago Reuters

For a Bulls team one win away from going to the conference finals, there seems to be a lot of questions.

Not about their defense — we know they can lock it down on that end. But about their ability to score on a good defense. About how far Derrick Rose can carry their offense on his back. The Bulls on paper should have steamrolled Indiana and now Atlanta, yet they have been pushed in both series. Are the Bulls as good as we thought?

They can go a ways toward answering that question with a win over Atlanta on the road Thursday night — a closeout game that will be the Bulls toughest test this season.

The Hawks can make this a lot tougher by just trusting in point guard Jeff Teague — he led their comeback in Game 5 in Chicago, only to have the ball taken out of his hands by the Hawks veterans late. And that didn’t end well. The Hawks cannot settle for isolation jumpers, they need the penetration and shot creation Teague brings.

I remember at Summer League a Hawks assistant coach telling me they were begging Teague to be more aggressive, to be the guy he finally has become in this series. Now that they have that Teague, they need to trust him.

Teague is not alone, Jamal Crawford needs to create the offense for the Hawks. Together they create for themselves and others, and the whole offense flows better. The passing version of Josh Smith, the one that also attacks the rim also needs to show up.

For the Bulls, they won the last game with their bench — at the end it was Taj Gibson and Omer Asik in while Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah sat. It really doesn’t matter what the combo of that group is, the Bulls need to get production from someone other than Rose. You know Rose gets the gravity of the situation tonight and look for him to try to do more, to start out hot, but the Hawks will make someone else beat them. Luol Deng, Boozer, Gibson, Kyle Korver — some one needs to step up.

The Bulls should win this game. They should answer the questions. But the Bulls have been a long way from what they should do in these playoffs, so the questions still hang in the air.

  1. bobulated - May 12, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    Give the Hawks some cred too for playing up to their potential at times in this series. There has never been a question about their athleticism or ability, just their focus and ability to play with discipline and cohesion as well as deal with adversity.
    While they were a shockingly soft team at times during the regular season they have shown stretches in this series where they are the best team on the floor.

  2. rosloe62 - May 12, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    What team doesn’t have questions? Maybe Dallas. The Heat beat an old and injured Celtics and had some trouble in games. The Thunder and Memphis are battling. This is the NBA playoffs. Most teams are fairly good, that’s why you have to win 4. The Bulls are playing pretty well considering this is the first time for this group. If Booz was healthy it would have ended in 5.

    • chicago240 - May 12, 2011 at 5:32 PM

      I would like to see a little more consistency on the Bulls. Noah is high beta with 0 points one game, 15 the next. 3 rebounds one game, 14 the next. I’d settle for just a COUPLE in a row for him to give consistent output. And if he makes like Jordan one more time pretending he has any kind of hands driving to the basket, I’m gonna kick in my TV. Noah Good Game = Bulls win tonight. Noah bad game, Sub early and Go Taj.

  3. thestudiokida - May 12, 2011 at 6:02 PM

    Bulls will win tonight, but be underdogs for the series against the Heat. Nobody can dispute that their defense was ranked #1 or that they won 62 games or that they have an MVP caliber point guard…. but everybody knows that they don’t have the chops. Laugh all you want but history tells us that a young superstar goes through a heartbreak before they are ready to win it all.

    Magic Johnson might be the only example of a superstar stepping into the spotlight and winning a championship without any heartbreaking playoff losses. Derrick Rose doesn’t have the support cast that Magic did. Miami Heat have the chops and proved it by beating down their nemesis, the Boston Celtics.

    I like the Bulls, I like Derrick Rose and Thibodeau, but this series and the 2011 NBA title belong to the battle-tested Heat.

    • philtration - May 12, 2011 at 10:37 PM

      So the Bulls losing to the Celtics in 7 games in what may have been the best post season series ever 2 years ago does not count as your “heart breaking playoff lose” for Rose?

      • thestudiokida - May 13, 2011 at 1:33 AM

        Not even close. You have to be a contender to have your heart broken. Beating the Celtics in game 7 would have been an incredible feat for a 41 win team but they weren’t going anywhere after that. This is the first year of contender status for Rose & the Bulls and it will be their first heart break.

  4. dirtybird2020 - May 12, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    This guys a idiot, who tested the heat a bum bustdown boston who has injured players in every position, and still won the the last game if the officials got calls right! Chicago has bee n tested by heat and won all 3, good luck if you think bibby can stop rose thats 12 easy points if they stick with that option, chalmers is decent but still cant hang, wade wont stepup to the challenge, and lebron cant guard him as seen last year in playoffs, no heartbreak for rose, he will proser against this team his team mates will be challenged though, 7 game series unless bulls play up to thier potential 6 game series, jeats at the top of their potential and have nowhere to go from here!

  5. dirtybird2020 - May 12, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    Bulls will beat these bums, we are no boston! We have a player who is averaging 30 a game and a bench who gets us 25 a game, boston really won game 5 horrible officiating will be on sports center all day long! Rose will flourish on a bibby, or chalmers! Deng can guard lebron one on one just as well as anyone in the league, bosh and boozer cancel each other out with horrible performaces! So now its wade vs our bench, korver will have a field day on these bum cause he dont got to play defense on players like miller,jones, or house cause they cant create their own shot! Noah will eat up boards on a undersized and below average front line! Deng will still get his as he averages 22ppg thruought his whole playoff career, heat cant afford to double rose cause he will pick their defense apart, lebron and wade will get theirs and thats it, we are younger, more atheletic, better bench, more energy and a far superior defense than boston! Name a player on boston that requires a double team, None, i cant wait till we goto finals, then its another story we play real teams anything can happen! Rose is a true man unlike lebron, who hasnt lived up to his words since the beginning of highschool( watch his comments in the documentary and see the results) rose is mvp with a good team, and dont need no other premadonnas help! Mvp mvp mvp

  6. dirtybird2020 - May 12, 2011 at 6:25 PM

    Bulls will beat these bums, we are no boston! We have a player who is averaging 30 a game and a bench who gets us 25 a game, boston really won game 5 horrible officiating will be on sports center all day long! Rose will flourish on a bibby, or chalmers! Deng can guard lebron one on one just as well as anyone in the league, bosh and boozer cancel each other out with horrible performaces! So now its wade vs our bench, korver will have a field day on these bum cause he dont got to play defense on players like miller,jones, or house cause they cant create their own shot! Noah will eat up boards on a undersized and below average front line! Deng will still get his as he averages 22ppg thruought his whole playoff career, heat cant afford to double rose cause he will pick their defense apart, lebron and wade will get theirs and thats it, we are younger, more atheletic, better bench, more energy and a far superior defense than boston! Name a player on boston that requires a double team, None

  7. gordocb - May 12, 2011 at 10:34 PM

    This so-called blog is a joke. Should have steamrolled Indy? Yeah that one loss really mattered. You had exactly one sweep in the 1st round by Boston not even the mighty Heat could close in 4 against Philly. Just say what you really want to say, you don’t like the Bulls, Rose shouldn’t be the MVP and i’m sure Thibs shouldn’t have been Coach of the Year. But you know what they are. And the Bulls just waxed the floor with Hawks to close this one out. Nothing left to say but bring on the Heat.

  8. dirtybird2020 - May 13, 2011 at 6:40 AM

    @ philtration, no that wasnt a heart breaking moment, rose was a rookie, didnt have a team, gordon was our main player, it was a first round, and they werent in a high position to win that series, this year if rose dont goto the finals will be a heartbreak cause; hes got a team built around him, #1 team in nba, won mvp, and swept the heat in regular season, and to lose to premadonna team that claims the east theirs for the taking will be heartbreaking!

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