CHICAGO (CBS) The Chicago Bulls had the opportunity to take control of their Eastern Conference semifinal series with Atlanta Hawks in Game 4, but a late Hawks run tied the series at two games apiece.
The series is now down to a race to two games. Chicago has home court advantage for a Game 7, but would much rather not see the series go that far. Here are the keys to a Bulls’ victory in Game 5.
-Derrick Rose has been amazing so far this series, he’s scored 152 of the Bulls’ 484 points (31.4%). But it was clear during the 100-88 loss to the Hawks that someone else needs to step up for the Bulls. Kyle Korver and Luol Deng had off-nights, and while Carlos Boozer looked good early in the game, he didn’t get many touches down the stretch. The 12-point loss was Chicago’s biggest defeat of the postseason, so all the Bulls need is for the other starters, or the Bench Mob, to provide a little more offense.
Defense, Defense, Defense
-On the season, the Bulls have allowed the second fewest points per game, just 91.3 per contest. Head coach Tom Thibodeau has preached defense to his team from the day he took over the reigns, and the players have bought into his philosophy. In their two losses to the Hawks in this series, Atlanta has managed to score 100 and 103 points. In Chicago’s two victories, they’ve held the Hawks to 73 and 82 points.
-The Hawks are a streaky team that relies on confidence more than anything. When the Bulls have jumped out to early leads in this series they’ve had a much easier time with the Hawks. The first five minutes of the game should be important. If the Bulls can establish a lead and frustrate the Hawks with their defense and rebounding, they could be heading back to Atlanta with a one-game lead.