Bulls Defense Crucial in Tying Series with Hawks; Key Shooters Still Questionable

COMMENTARY | For us nervous Chicago Bulls fans, it was good to see them take care of the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday 86-73. The Bulls have had trouble taking care of the teams that were supposed to be “easy,” such as the Indiana Pacers and Hawks.

Kent McDill has posted the “Hawks-Bulls notebook” at the NBA.com website.

What was the difference in this game from the one the Bulls lost to Atlanta? The two teams are now tied in the Eastern Semi-Final series 1-1.

There were a number of things that stood out as difference-makers in Game Two of the series.

First, the Bulls’ overall defense was tough. They denied passes and got rebounds both offensively and defensively. The players created turnovers and really hustled for loose balls.

The Bulls challenged key scorers from the first game. This included James Crawford, who had 22 points Monday. His production Wednesday was half that at 11 points. Joe Johnson saw his production cut even more from 34 to 16 points.

One area that still hurt the team was Derrick Rose’s shooting. While scoring 25 points, he was just 10 for 27, a shooting percentage of 37 percent. That is almost 10 percent below his career average.

Additionally, Kyle Korver has gone one for nine in both playoff games and his lack of production has really hurt. His playoff shooting percentage against Atlanta is 11 percent. He carries a stunning playoff 3-point shooting average of nearly 54 percent. The Bulls need that.

In watching the game, I noted that Carlos Boozer was still not completely himself. It should be said that he is playing with “turf-toe.” Further, Rose is playing with an ankle that has had problems from injuries in the Indiana series and the first game against Atlanta. No player can escape being affected by these types of physical problems.

I listened to an observation made by Charles Barkley last night; he mused that the Bulls don’t really have a player who can step up when Rose isn’t on stride. I disagree. Joakim Noah scored 19 points and had 14 rebounds and seemed to be all over the court — he’s a great player.

The Bulls have another “second man” in Luoi Deng. Their problems so far have stemmed from not working hard enough.

Failure to correct that, should they survive this series, will put them out of the playoffs against either the Heat or Celtics.

References:

NBA.com Website, Kent McGill, “Hawks-Bulls notebook”

NBA.com Website, “Kyle Korver Statistics”

NBA.com Website, “Derrick Rose Statistics”