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Bulls vs Hawks: Keys To Game 2

Kyle Korver

Kyle Korver (Photo Credit: Getty Images, By: Brian Babineau)

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CHICAGO (CBS) Wednesday night’s game isn’t necessarily a must-win for the Bulls, who trail the Hawks 1-0 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but going back to Atlanta down 2-0 is certainly not in Chicago’s best interests.

Many — including Derrick Rose — described Sunday’s Game 1 as one of those nights where the opponent simply hit all the tough shots and the Bulls struggled to hit the easy ones. Atlanta’s 53.8 percent shooting from three certainly supports that theory, but there are still a number of things the Bulls can do better in Game 2 to ensure a victory:

Win The Hustle Points

The Bulls were only out-rebounded by one (38-37) in Game 1, but they missed a ton of opportunities to pick up the loose balls down the stretch. Four of Atlanta’s nine offensive rebounds came in the fourth quarter and those led to six huge points while the Bulls were attempting a comeback. Carlos Boozer was better offensively in Game 1, but he didn’t have a single rebound in the fourth quarter. That simply can’t happen in the playoffs.

Get Off To A Good Start

The Bulls have lost the first quarter in four of their six playoff games so far. Not surprisingly, they ended up losing two of those games and the other two came down to the final minute. The only game the Bulls have won comfortably was Game 5 against Indiana, a game in which they had an 11-point lead after the first quarter. Coming out flat has been a startling theme with this group in the playoffs and it needs to change in a hurry.

Find The Right Combination Off The Bench

The Bulls bench was outstanding during the regular season, but they have had their problems in the playoffs. Fans consistently called for more Kyle Korver during the season, but Tom Thibodeau limited his minutes because of his defense. Not surprisingly ,Korver has been much better than both Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer on the offensive end in playoffs, but the numbers suggest he has actually been much better on the defensive end as well. His one-on-one defensive skills might not compare, but get this: Korver is a +40 in the playoffs so far while averaging 20.3 minutes per game. That is much better than Bogan’s +13 in 18.8 minutes per game and Brewers horrible -38 in 12.8 points per game. Korver has only posted a negative +/- in one playoff game so far and that was a -1 in Game 3 against the Pacers. Brewer, meanwhile, has yet to post a positive number in any of the six postseason contests.