By David Schuster–
CHICAGO (WSCR) Tom Thibodeau gave his troops the day off Wednesday. He’s a smart coach, since he knows they are tired and also knows they are in for a battle come Thursday night. If all goes well the Bulls will win Game 6 down in Atlanta, but it surely won’t be easy. Every game in this series except for Game 3 has been a struggle and hotly contested, and the Hawks won’t go down without a fight.
For the Bulls to close out the Atlanta, on their home court, they’ll need to pick up where they left off in the fourth quarter of Game 5. During those final 12 minutes, the Bulls turned up the defense and pushed Atlanta into shots they didn’t want to take. The Hawks shot just 5-of-16 and also turned the ball over a few times, with result being easier baskets on the other end for the Bulls.
You’re not going to see Taj Gibson, Omer Asik and Ronnie Brewer start Game 6 like they finished Game 5, but the Bulls’ five starters must keep the intensity of the defense at that same high fever-pitch. The Hawks are a team that can come apart at the seams if pressured, and that’s something Thibodeau knows and is another reason to give his team some extra rest.
As for Gibson, he played some great basketball in that fourth quarter of Game 5. In fact it was probably the best (and most important) stretch he has ever played in a Bulls uniform, but he will not supplant Carlos Boozer in the starting lineup. If the Bulls are going to win a title this year, Boozer will still be a key figure. He has to give you the down low scoring at the beginning of games that frees up everyone else. It’s a great luxury that Thibodeau can turn to Gibson when Boozer is either unhealthy or ineffective, but Boozer is key and everyone involved with the Bulls knows it.