CHICAGO (CBS) After eliminating the Indiana Pacers in five games, the Chicago Bulls now take on their second round opponent, the Atlanta Hawks, in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The Bulls may have made relatively quick work of the Pacers, but the Hawks are coming off a series upset of the Orlando Magic. Here are the keys to a Bulls’ victory in Game 1:
Shake Off The Rust
-The Bulls haven’t seen game action in a week. And while time was important for players like Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer to heal up from their respective injuries, that time off can also be a detriment. The Bulls run the risk of starting the game off rusty. And if that happens, they could find themselves in an early hole to the Hawks. It’s true that the Hawks have also had a prolonged layoff, but they’re coming in with a lot of momentum after knocking off the fourth-seeded Magic.
New Round, New Level
-The Pacers had the worst record of all the teams in the NBA Playoffs, and the Bulls played down to their level in the first four games of the first-round series before routing them in Game 5. Chicago can’t afford to do that with a much more talented Hawks roster, even though former Bull Kirk Hinrich will miss Game 1 of the series. If the Bulls truly want to be considered the top championship contender, they need to prove that they can get better the deeper they go into the playoffs.
Live Up The Accolades
-Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was awarded the NBA’s Coach of the Year Award on Sunday, and Rose is expected to receive the league’s Most Valuable Players Award in the coming days. Both parties, without a doubt, earned these awards in the regular season. Now it’s time to do the same in the same in the playoffs. Both have been impressive in the postseason thus far, but once both of these awards become official, the targets Rose, Thibodeau and the Bulls’ backs will only increase.