CHICAGO (CBS) The Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks wrapped up the first two games of their Eastern Conference semifinal matchup with a 1-1 split. Now the series shifts to Atlanta, with the Hawks headed home with some confidence.
The Bulls lost home court advantage by dropping the first game of this series, but they can get it back by winning Game 3. Here are the keys to Friday night’s game:
-The Hawks surprised much of the basketball world when they knocked off the Orlando Magic in the first round. After winning Game 1 in Chicago, the Hawks have to feel as if they have a realistic chance of knocking off the league’s top seeded team as well. Chicago needs to squash that confidence, and do it right from tip-off. The Bulls have struggled this offseason when they’ve let teams get early leads. No one expects the Bulls to run away with with Friday night’s game, but they need to get an early lead and make the Hawks play catchup.
Crash The Boards
-Head coach Tom Thibodeau stresses many things in his team philosophy, and among them is rebounding. In the first game of the series the Bulls were out rebounded 38-37, and went on to lose 103-95. In Game 2, the Bulls dominated the Hawks on the boards and pulled in 58 rebounds to Atlanta’s 39. Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer all had double digit rebounds. Chicago needs to build off of it’s Game 2 rebounding to increase their second-chance opportunities, and to limit those of the Hawks.
Get To The Line
-Through seven postseason games, Derrick Rose has attempted 66 free throws, an average of 9.4 per game, that’s up from his 6.9 average in the regular season. For the Bulls to win on Friday night, Rose will have to get to the foul line. In Chicago’s two losses this postseason, Rose has combined for four free throw (four in the Game 4 loss to Indiana, and none in Game 1 against Atlanta). If the postseason trends hold up, the Bulls will need the youngest MVP in the league’s history to attack the rim and get to the line at least six times.