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Written by Mike Loszach | 14 May 2011

This is why we watch. This is why it means so much to us. Moments like this. Talk about a dream scenario for us Bulls fans, this is it. I’ll admit I remember watching “the decision” and hoping Lebron would tell the Nation he was coming to Chicago. But once he didn’t, I found myself that night dreaming up a possible scenario where the Bulls took on the NBA’s newest villian’s in the Eastern Conference Finals. Did I believe it would happen? Hell no.

I’ve mentioned it before on this blog, but coming in to the year I was hopeful the Bulls would win the Central Division and win one playoff series. I thought those were very fair expectations, and would be a great step in the right direction. But this team wasn’t ready to beat the Miami’s, Boston’s, and Orlando’s of the world. But then something awesome happened. We just kept winning. Our homegrown point guard just continued to amaze us, and before we knew it, he was the front runner to win the MVP. Different players kept hitting big shots for us in the big games. First it was Kyle Korver against Miami. Later, it was Deng’s turn against Miami. Then it was our center, Joakim Noah, defending and shutting down Lebron James on the final possession. And wouldn’t you know it, the Bulls were 3-0 against the team that had assembled itself to win “not one, not two, not three…. You get the idea…. Championships.”  We became the #1 seed in the East and then the #1 team in the NBA. We did it with teamwork. We did it with defense. We did it with clutch play. We did it with effort. We did it with our bench. We did it with great coaching. And we did it with #1. The league MVP who has a bigger heart than anyone on that Miami bench.

This is why we watch. This is why we stay with the team through thick and thin. This is why we continue to watch the team on a daily basis even when that means watching guys like Ron Mercer, Eddy Curry, Fred Hoiberg, and A.J Guyton. Because when things go good, it means all that much more to you. We’ve seen a million bandwagon jumpers every time a Chicago team makes the playoffs. We’re seeing it with the Bulls now. We saw it in embarrassing fashion last year with the Hawks. And we saw it in 05 with the White Sox and 03 with the Cubs. Well hold your heads high, true Bulls fans. The rest of this season is going to be why it means so much to us. We’re back in the Eastern Conference Finals and we’re playing the NBA’s biggest villains. It’s going to be an amazing series and I’m pumped. We’re playing a great team and it’s going to be tough but I believe in the Bulls. Win or lose, I’m proud of the way the team has played this year. GO BULLS!


Stat of the Day:


Probable Miami Starters:

G – Mike Bibby, 3.4 PPG

G – D’Wayne Wade, 26.2 PPG

F – Lebron James, 26.1 PPG

F – Chris Bosh, 16.3 PPG

C – Joel Anthony, 4.2 PPG

Probable Chicago Starters:

G – Derrick Rose, 28.8 PPG

G – Keith Bogans, 5.4 PPG

F – Luol Deng, 16.7 PPG

F – Carlos Boozer, 11.8 PPG

C – Joakim Noah, 9.9 PPG

Prediction:

Current Line: Chicago (-2), Over/Under 181

I really don’t know how this series is going to go. There are so many “ifs” in this series that make it tough to predict. I mentioned what I thought the “keys” were for the Bulls in my last post so I don’t need to rehash those. I think Loul with do a solid job guarding Lebron. Of course he won’t stop him, but hopefully he can make things tough for him. Bogans/Brewer on Wade isn’t an awful matchup (granted, I’d love to switch places with Miami on that one). The point is, I don’t think those guys are going to back down defensively. That being said, they still will need plenty of help and team defense will be key.

Offensively, I like the some of the matchups for our guys. Rose against Bibby and Chalmers is a matchup that I really like. However, I would expect Miami to switch Lebron on Derrick late, and I’ll be honest, that is a matchup that makes me nervous. Lebron’s length is tough for Derrick. Korver also has a much better matchup than he did against Atlanta. He will have a much bigger role than he had against Atlanta and he will have some nice games. Finally, I like Boozer and Taj against their bigs. They both came on strong in the final games of the Atlanta series and I’m hopeful that they will stay hot heading in to this game. We’ll need them.

The Bulls are playing at home, where they have a posted a dominant record all season long. It’s going to be a close game and we have an MVP closer in Derrick Rose. The Bulls have played their best basketball of the postseason the last 5 quarters of the Atlanta series. I’m hopeful they will stay hot. Bulls get game 1 in a thriller.

Bulls 88 Heat 86

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Written by Mike Loszach | 13 May 2011



This post is meant to preview the entire series. It will be slightly different than the game preview threads that you see from me frequently on HTTH. You will see those threads for the postseason too, but this one is meant more to look at the entire series.

Regular Season Matchups

1/15/2011 – Heat 96 Bulls 99 (Rose CHI 34 pts, 8 ast)

2/24/2011- Heat 89 Bulls 93 (Deng CHI 20 pts, 10 reb, 5 ast)

3/6/2011 – Bulls 87 Heat 86 (Rose CHI 27 pts, 5 ast)

Chicago Regular Season Leaders:

Scoring: Derrick Rose (25.0 PPG, .445 FG%, 2026 PTS)

Assists: Derrick Rose (7.7 APG, 623 AST)

Rebounds: Joakim Noah (10.4 RPG, 498 REB)

Blocks: Joakim Noah (1.50 BLKPG, 72 BLK)

Steals: Ronnie Brewer (1.31 STLPG, 106 STL)

Miami Regular Season Leaders:

Scoring: Lebron James (26.7 PPG, .510 FG%, 2111 PTS)

Assists: Lebron James (7.0 APG, 554 AST)

Rebounds: Chris Bosh (8.3 RPG, 641 REB)

Blocks: Joel Anthony (1.24 BLKPG, 93 BLK)

Steals: Lebron James (1.57 STLPG, 124 STL)

2011 Team Stats

PPG: Bulls 98.6, Heat 102.1

RPG: Bulls 44.2, Heat 42.1

APG: Bulls 22.3, Heat 20.0

FG%: Bulls .462, Heat .481

FT%: Bulls .743, Heat .769

3PT%: Bulls .361, Heat .370

My Bulls Keys to the Series

  • Limit the Turnovers – If you let Miami run in transition, you’re going to get hurt. We need to be smart with the basketball and limit the turnovers. Also, we need to knock down our outside shots when we take them. Long rebounds can lead to fast breaks. Everybody needs to hustle back on defense following missed shots.
  • Rebound – This is an area where we should have an edge. Bosh is soft. Anthony only averaged 5.7 RPG. We need to try and keep Lebron off the glass too. But I think Joakim should get his hands on a lot of boards. We need the rest of our guys to really rebound the ball well. This is an area where we have to be successful to win the series.
  • Put the pressure on Miami – Nobody front runs like the Miami Heat. When things are going well, they’re head and shoulders above everyone else in the league. But in the past, when the going as gotten tough, they have struggled to respond. We’ve got the home court advantage, and that’s huge. We need to protect it. If you win Game 1, Miami gets a little nervous. If you win Game 2, Miami gets a lot nervous. Play them tough on the road. I still don’t think they’re great in close games. Keep the games close and maybe you can steal one late in Miami.
  • Role Players – They’re huge for the Bulls in this series. 1 through 3 Miami has a huge edge against us, but after that I think we have the huge edge. Our bench needs to be much better than their bench. I think this is a much better matchup for Korver than Atlanta was, and some other guys like Taj, Omer, and Bogans seemed to really come on at the end of that Atlanta series. They need to stay hot.

Prediction

Current Line (Series) – Miami -200, Chicago +170

Everybody and their mother on the National circuit are picking Miami. 12 of the 14 ESPN “experts” are picking Miami. I think it will be a very competitive series. There are so many variables in this series that are just so hard to call, but I think it will be a very entertaining series. There is value with the Bulls at +170, I’ll tell you that. In a close series like this Home Court Advantage is huge. The Bulls were 36-5 at home this season, don’t forget that. I’m picking with my heart in this one.

Chicago wins the series 4 games to 3.

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Written by Mike Loszach | 09 May 2011

Game 4 sucked. I’m still upset about that game. The game was right there for the taking in the 4th quarter and the Bulls laid a giant egg. The bench play was terrible, Luol Deng didn’t show up, the defense allowed way to many dunks and layups, nobody but Derrick seemed interested in scoring, the refs didn’t do us any favors, and we even took a timeout we didn’t have. It was just an ugly, ugly end to a game. Thank goodness for the short turnaround because I need to move on from Game 4.

I loved Joakim’s comments right after the game. I’m too lazy to look it up and quote him exactly but he didn’t sugar coat it. He basically said that they got their rear ends kicked because they didn’t bring the intensity in Game 4. After Game 3 they got overconfident and played another bad basketball game. This is really getting old. I know this is a fairly young team, but come on guys. You should get it by now. In the postseason you have to bring it. You have to do things like keep Jeff Teague (who barely played in Round 1) out of the lane, make fast break layups, and play a little defense on Josh Smith so that he can be reminded that he sucks.

Obviously this is the biggest game of the season to date. Hopefully there will be several more bigger games in the next couple weeks, but if we don’t get this one that may not be the case. We’ll find out what the Bulls are made of. They are the better team. We saw in Game 3 just how much better they are. This game will be played at the United Center. They won 36 out of 41 regular season games in that arena. They need to come out and remind the Hawks who the better team is. And I’ll say it again… START FAST. The two games this postseason the Bulls started fast in? Game 5 vs. Indiana and Game 3 at. Atlanta. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those were the two easiest wins of the postseason.

Like everyone and their mother has been saying all postseason long, we need more out of players that aren’t named Derrick Rose. Boozer played better on Sunday but a combination of foul trouble and poor defensive play limited him from having a great game. Luol Deng didn’t show up. We need a lot more out of him. Joakim was active but by now we know he isn’t much of a scorer. Everybody else on the team was terrible. Somebody needs to help us out. Korver and Bogans knocking down some shots would be huge. C.J needs to play better when he’s in there too so Thibs doesn’t have to play Derrick all game long again.

Stat of the Day:

Luol Deng and Kyle Korver were a combined 1-for-11 from 3 in Game 4.

Probable Atlanta Starters:

G – Jeff Teague, 11.5 PPG

G – Joe Johnson, 19.2 PPG

F – Marvin Williams, 5.5 PPG

F – Josh Smith, 14.7 PPG

C – Al Horford, 11.7 PPG

Probable Chicago Starters:

G – Derrick Rose, 29.4 PPG

G – Keith Bogans, 5.0 PPG

F – Luol Deng, 16.4 PPG

F – Carlos Boozer, 10.7 PPG

C – Joakim Noah, 10.9 PPG

Prediction:

Current Line: Chicago (-8.5), Over/Under 181

When you think about the fact that just about everyone but Derrick was pretty bad on Sunday and we we’re still right there midway through the 4th quarter is kind of encouraging. What are the odds everyone sucks again? Korver is going to knock down shots. Luol is going to play much better. The bench mob will bring the energy. And I can’t imagine the defense being so bad again. I’m nervous about this game, but when I think about it rationally the Bulls really should win it.

Bulls 91 Hawks 85


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Written by Mike Chapman | 08 May 2011

First off, how absolutely disgusting was Derrick Rose in Game 3? Driving lay-ups, mid range jumpers, 3 point jumpers, runners off the glass, and as Johnny Red Kerr used to say, the tear drop. Rose imposed his will on that game from the start and Atlanta head coach Larry Drew admitted postgame, that after he saw Rose's quick start in the first 49 seconds he knew his team was in trouble. I still think Danny Granger said it best when he commentated that Rose "was an ex girlfriend who whenever you tell her to go away, she comes back even more." That quote came after a game 1 victory over Indiana, where Rose was fantastic and poured in 36. After Fridays 44 point (16/27 shooting), 7 assists, and 5 rebounds I can only imagine what the Hawks were comparing Rose to. 


With that tribute to the MVP, it is time to move onto to Game 4 where the Bulls will try to take a commanding 3-1 series lead tonight in Atlanta. Let's be honest, if the Bulls win this game, this series is absolutely over. The Hawks are what they are, a frontrunner. When this team gets off to a hot start as they did in Game 1, they become extremely dangerous and play with a higher amount of confidence. This in turn results in unconscious shooting as we saw from Crawford and Johnson in Game 1 as they combined for 56 points.


In Game 2 I give the Hawks a little credit for being able to hang in with the Bulls in a slow, grind it out game which the Hawks clearly have little interest in playing. Though in Game 3, I think we saw the Atlanta Hawks that a lot of Bulls fans expected to see when we first learned that the Hawks had defeated the Magic. They were lethargic, and showed none of the hustle they had displayed in Game 1 where it seemed that every 50/50 ball went their way. The Bulls were more than happy to let Josh Smith continue to chuck up jumpers that clanked off any part of the rim as I almost half expected the Atlanta police to arrest him for assaulting the rim with the amount of times he hit it. Joe Johnson was almost non existent as was Crawford as the two combined to score 23 (only 2 in the second half), a far cry from their 56 in Game 1.


With all that being said, I fully expect the Bulls to put down the last fight that Atlanta will throw at them this series. Game 4 is a must win game for Atlanta, at home, with down 3-1 staring them in the face going back to Chicago. Look for Atlanta to come out with something to prove to its raucous Atlanta Hawk fan base. I say raucous very lightly as I didn't think there are worse fans than Miami but the Hawks fans are almost comically indifferent, much like their team at times.


    To start Game 4 I think the Hawks will build an early lead, but much like the entire season for the Bulls to counter with their suffocating defense, and forcing the Hawks to take bad percentage shots that Atlanta almost seems too willing to take. Zaza has been a non-factor in this series so far so look for him to foul Rose hard a few times as Rose embarrassed the Hawks on Friday night, as Larry Drew has pleaded with his team to get more physical. In the end, the Bulls head back to Chicago with a commanding 3-1 series lead and a ton of confidence heading into Game 5 Tuesday night.


Stat of the night: Since Game 1, Crawford and Johnson have shot a combined 36% from the floor (16/44).


Final Score: Bulls 92 Hawks 84


Oh and as for Boozer, well Christ, I don't think I can say anything that hasn't already been said about him. Fucking unbelievable.

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Written by Mike Loszach | 04 May 2011

First of all, I want to start off by saying, how cool was Derrick’s MVP press conference yesterday? Talk about a guy that is really easy to root for. The way he thanked his mother was heartfelt. He wasn’t reading from his notes, he was speaking from his heart, and that was real. I love that.

Now on to tonight’s game. I’ve got to be quick today, so we’re going with the lazy bullet point approach to the key’s the game:

  • We have got to get to the foul line more. We didn’t shoot nearly enough free throws in game 1. We settled for way too many jumpers instead of driving to the lane. Got to make a concerted effort to get to the hole. Derrick not shooting a single FT in Game 1 was huge. He’s got to attack more.
  • You can’t let Crawford and Johnson go off again in this one. We have to have a hand in their face on every single shot. They’re confidence is probably at an all time high right now after that Game 1 performance. You can’t give them any breathing space. Make someone else beat you.
  • Start fast. I sound like a broken record because I’ve been saying it all postseason, but we’ve only done it one time in six games, and that was the one comfortable win. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I’m sick of playing catch up. Get it going early.
  • I touched on it with my first point, but we need more out of Derrick. He has a very favorable matchup in this one. He should be able to take Teague to the hoop all night long. It sounds like the ankle is okay. Thibs said there is no swelling and he practiced yesterday. Play like an MVP tonight.

Stat of the Day:

Atlanta made 40 of 78 shots against the league’s best regular season defense is game 1.

Probable Atlanta Starters:

G – Jeff Teague, 5-0 PPG

G – Joe Johnson, 20.3 PPG

F – Marvin Williams, 5.9 PPG

F – Josh Smith, 13.4 PPG

C – Al Horford, 11.6 PPG

Probable Chicago Starters:

G – Derrick Rose, 27.0 PPG

G – Keith Bogans, 5.0 PPG

F – Luol Deng, 19.0 PPG

F – Carlos Boozer, 10.7 PPG

C – Joakim Noah, 11.8 PPG

Prediction:

Current Line: Chicago (-8.5), Over/Under 180

Don’t put a whole lot of stock into my predictions. After being pretty money in the regular season, I haven’t been right a whole lot in the postseason. But I still like the Bulls here. I’m not jumping off the bandwagon after Game 1. The Bulls have some favorable matchups here, particularly at Point Guard. I have to believe that Derrick will make it a point to drive more instead of settling for jumpers. Atlanta was really packing the lane in Game 1 but you still need to drive and either kick or draw the foul. This is a huge game for the Bulls and I expect them to play like it.

Bulls 90 Hawks 84

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Written by Marco Radenkovich | 02 May 2011

Well, that sucked.

The Bulls drop game one to the Atlanta Hawks 103-95 in front of 22,980 miserable fans.  I'll get back to the fans in the minute.  

The real story was the guard play of the Atlanta Hawks.  Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford scored 56 points combined to lead the Hawks, and shot 20-34.  Johnson was 5-5 from three.  

The Bulls defense broke down repeatedly - which is very uncharacteristic of this team.  Joakim Noah lost his man more times than I've ever seen on defense.  Luol Deng, who had a great first half, left Johnson too often on the perimeter, and Johnson made everyone pay.  

Then, as if the game couldn't get any worse, Derrick turns his ankle on the last play of the game.  

While it remains to be seen what happens with Rose, I'm sure he's going to get treatment and play the rest of the series.  I just wonder how he's going to play through the obvious pain.  It hasn't really affected his explosiveness thus far.  If it does, the Bulls are in serious trouble.

Finally, what a fucking piss poor effort by the fans tonight.  I'm not a big believer in crowd energy leading a team to a win, and I really don't think that matters too much to the players, but how awful were they tonight?  To see the fans act motionless in the rich seats is an embarrasment.  And look at all the fans leaving when there was 2 minutes to go, and it was an 8 point game.  Are you really that fucking concerned about traffic?  If you are, stay home.  I fear this is going to be the case with the rest of the playoff games in Chicago, as the seats are far too expensive for real fans to attend.  If you went to the game and left early - fuck you.

Now, there are all the negatives.  Here are some of the positives.

Carlos Boozer actually had a stretch in the third quarter where he wanted the ball.  In the fourth, he dunked on Josh Smith.  That kind of assertive play has been absent from his game in the second half of the year, but the Bulls need him to get going if they're going to win this series, let alone a championship.

Deng had a really good first half - he was taking it to the hoop, active on the defensive end, and making his open shots.  

The final positive - it's only game one.  This series wasn't going to be a sweep, and I didn't think it would go 5.  I thought at least six at the beginning, and nothing that happened tonight has changed it.   The reason I feared them more than Orlando was that Orlando can't make the same shots that the Hawks can make.  They're good at creating for themselves, they're all playmakers and they have been together for a long time.  When they want to, they can play good defense, with a lot of length and speed from their forwards and shooting guards.  But regardless, the Buls are the better team, and will show that the rest of the series.  

It's weird to say that the defense cost them this game, but look at the Bulls record when they give up 100 points.  Contest jumpers, and keep the game at your pace, and you can beat the Hawks.  The Bulls will beat them, and win the series.





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Written by Mike Loszach | 02 May 2011

Well it sounds like Carlos Boozer is going to be able to give it a go, although it’s possible he could be coming off the bench. How effective he will be remains to be seen, and it sounds like he’s really hurting, but it’s the playoffs and he’s going to try to give it a go. On the other sideline, Kirk Hinrich is officially out for Atlanta and will probably miss the entire series.

I think the Hinrich injury is an absolutely huge blow for Atlanta. In his absence you would figure Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague, and even Joe Johnson would split the point guard minutes. None of those guys have a prayer at stopping Derrick. They will have to use a team effort to stop Derrick, but I still figure they will struggle with that. And if they over commit to trying to stop him, Derrick has proven to us that he has no problem deferring to his teammates for the good of the team. Atlanta is not as physical as Indiana (and the Pacers didn’t really stop him either). They don’t have physical guards like Dahanty Jones and Paul George and they don’t have a bunch of big men that are comfortable knocking him down like Foster, McRoberts, and Hansborough were. I could see Pachulia committing a few flagrant fouls, but other than that, I’m not expecting to see Derrick on the floor too much. I don’t think he will take anywhere near the pounding that he took in the first round.

I think our defense will be great in this series. Atlanta plays right into their hands defensively. They take a lot of bad shots. Without Kirk running the offense, they could be taking even more bad shots. They love the drive and kick and our perimeter defense is a real strength. The only matchup that worries me is Al Horford vs. whoever. Horford is going to get his points. But as long as we keep him from completely going off like he did in the first head-to-head game this year, we should be fine. Joe Johnson will get his points, but I don’t see him taking over the game. I really think Atlanta is going to have a hard time scoring against us.

I’d love to see the Bulls jump all over Atlanta early. Stan Van Gundy hinted after the series that Hawks are kind of front runners. When they’re in the lead or right in the game they play with a different level of intensity than when they get down early. It kind of looked like that when they got destroyed by Orlando in Game 5. The Bulls had big leads against Atlanta all 3 games this year, however in the first matchup the Hawks did come back and win the game, so I’m not sure how much validity there is to what Van Gundy said, but I would love to see us push Atlanta early and see how they respond. The last thing you want to do is come out flat early and give the opposing team all the confidence in the world that they can play with you like we saw from the Pacers. My hope is that we will start fast, I think we got the playoff jitters out of the way, and like one of our followers posted on our facebook page, perhaps we owe Indiana a thank you for teaching us just how we have to bring it every night in the postseason.

Stat of the Day:

In 3 games vs. Atlanta, Derrick Rose averaged 25.3 points and had a total of only 10 turnovers

Probable Atlanta Starters:

G – Jamal Crawford, 20.5 PPG

G – Joe Johnson, 18.0 PPG

F – Josh Smith, 14.3 PPG

F – Al Horford, 12.0 PPG

C – Jason Collins, 1.3 PPG

Probable Chicago Starters:

G – Derrick Rose, 27.6 PPG

G – Keith Bogans, 5.4 PPG

F – Luol Deng, 18.6 PPG

F – Carlos Boozer, 10.0 PPG

C – Joakim Noah, 12.0 PPG

Prediction:

Current Line: Chicago (-8.5), Over/Under 179

No Hinrich = No chance for Atlanta to stop Derrick. I think the Hawks will struggle offensively to score on the Bulls. Horford will get his, but after that they won’t have many scoring options. The Bulls were taught in round 1 how hard they have to go every minute in the postseason and the playoff jitters should be gone. Bulls win comfortably in game 1 and send a clear message to Atlanta in the process.

Bulls 94 Hawks 79

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Written by Mike Loszach | 29 April 2011

This post is meant to preview the entire series. It will be slightly different than the game preview threads that you see from me frequently on HTTH. You will see those threads for the postseason too, but this one is meant more to look at the entire series.

Regular Season Matchups

3/2/2011 – Bulls 80 Hawks 83 (Horford ATL 32 pts, 16 reb)

3/11/2011- Hawks 76 Bulls 94 (Rose CHI 34 pts, 6 reb, 5 ast)

3/22/2011 – Bulls 114 Hawks 81 (Rose 30 pts, 10 ast)

Chicago Regular Season Leaders:

Scoring: Derrick Rose (25.0 PPG, .445 FG%, 2026 PTS)

Assists: Derrick Rose (7.7 APG, 623 AST)

Rebounds: Joakim Noah (10.4 RPG, 498 REB)

Blocks: Joakim Noah (1.50 BLKPG, 72 BLK)

Steals: Ronnie Brewer (1.31 STLPG, 106 STL)

Atlanta Regular Season Leaders:

Scoring: Joe Johnson (18.2 PPG, .443 FG%, 1312 PTS)

Assists: Joe Johnson (4.7 APG, 338 AST)

Rebounds: Al Horford (9.3 RPG, 718 REB)

Blocks: Josh Smith (1.56 BLKPG, 120 BLK)

Steals: Josh Smith (1.29 STLPG, 99 STL)

2011 Team Stats

PPG: Bulls 98.6, Hawks 95.0

RPG: Bulls 44.2, Hawks 39.3

APG: Bulls 22.3, Hawks 22.0

FG%: Bulls .462, Hawks .462

FT%: Bulls .743, Hawks .779

3PT%: Bulls .361, Hawks .352

Prediction

Current Line (Series) – Chicago -850, Atlanta +575

We’ll get a lot more into talking about this series in the individual game preview threads. I think Marco and some of our readers may think higher of Atlanta than I do, but I’m very confident heading in to this series. I liked the matchup before Kirk Hinrich went down last night. Now, with him being doubtful with a hamstring, I like it even more. I don’t think the Hawks have any prayer of slowing down Derrick. Who is going to guard him if Kirk can’t go? Jamal Crawford? Joe Johnson? Teague? I bet Derrick is licking his lips there. He should take less of a pounding in this series too. I could see Pachulia getting a few flagrants, but that should be it. I don’t think they will have 3 guys beating on him like Indiana did.

Offensively, I think Horford can hurt us, but he’s the only player on the team that really scares me. From what I have seen of Atlanta this season, they are a team that takes a lot of bad shots. That plays right into the Bulls hands with their strong perimeter defense. We know all about Jamal Crawford. He’s coming off a good offensive series against Orlando, but he’s a chucker. Their offense isn’t overly complicated: lots of drives and kicks and lots of high pick and rolls. “Iso” Joe Johnson is a skilled offensive player, but I have a hard time seeing him going off against our defenders. The Bulls don’t even have to play great for this to be an easy series. Play like you did in Game 5 against Indiana and I think we’re fine.

Bulls win the series 4 games to 1.

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Written by Marco Radenkovich | 23 April 2011

There.  I said it.  I'm glad the Bulls lost today.

The issues that the Bulls have had in this series have been well documented.  Crappy shooting, turnovers and allowing the Pacers to control the pace.  Those three things should be recipe for disaster.  Instead, the Bulls are ahead 3-1 in the series, with a great chance to wrap it up in Chicago on Tuesday.

By losing, the Bulls hit the proverbial reset button.  I'm not saying the Bulls are using this loss as motivation for Game 5.  I'm not saying that the Bulls players and coaches needed a loss to get them on the right track, either.  It might be a game that refocuses them.  I'd rather refocus up 3-1 in the first round then have the same issues in a series vs. Orlando or Atlanta (I think it's going to be Atlanta.)

Mike Fratello alluded to it today - and he made a great point.  It's a lot easier to gloss over the mistakes because you're winning.  Losing is what causes change.  And that's what the Bulls need.  Watching film of a win can only do so much, because in the back of your mind, you know you ended up winning the game. 

The reason I think the Bulls can win it all is because of the on/off switch they have.  They can turn it on at any point in the game.  Today, they turned it on too late.  And the team knows that.  The comeback should have started at the beginning of the second half.  

I'm not so quick to give the Pacers a ton of credit - they're a pretty good team, and they're controlling the pace.  The reason they have this control is because of the sloppy turnovers the Bulls have made.  They've tried to get too cute with passes inside the paint, which have really hurt them.  Also, when Derrick has been doubled when he crosses half court, nobody on the Bulls is coming to the ball with any urgency.  It's hurting the ball movement, and has led to more difficult passes which aren't being completed.

The Bulls need to get back to doing the things they do best - playing solid defense and taking care of the basketball.  If they do that, we know Derrick is going to make enough plays to get us the win, even if Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng aren't playing at a high level.

With all of these "issues," I reiterate that the Bulls are up 3-1.  They're going to win Game 5 on Tuesday, and make everyone forget about this series.  Cut the turnovers in half, and the Bulls will run away with this game.  

Onward.  no comments

Written by Mike Loszach | 22 April 2011

The Bulls have an opportunity to sweep their series tomorrow before some teams play even their 3rd postseason game. This would provide them a long opportunity to rest up and prepare for the Atlanta Hawks or Orlando Magic. Given Thib’s ability to game plan, and all of the fouls that Derrick has taken in the first 3 games, I think an extended break would be a nice thing, especially when you consider the fact that the Atlanta/Orlando series looks like it will go deep. Therefore, I would really like to see the Bulls wrap this one up in four, rather than waiting till game 5 to finish the Pacers off in Chicago.

Speaking of the number of hits Derrick has taken, I’m really starting to get nervous about that. With the Pacers chances of winning the series on life support, I worry that their frustrations will lead to cheap shots on Derrick. You can argue whether or not some of the shots on Derrick have been “dirty” this series, but I think some certainly have been. If they continue to hammer Derrick in Game 4 without even pretending to go for the ball, I think somebody has to step up and get a T for the Bulls. Not Derrick, but somebody else. I’d love to see Kurt Thomas deliver a bow to Foster’s face or something like that, just to send a message to the rest of the league that if you’re going to hammer our guy, there will be some repercussions. We’re not just gonna sit by and let it happen. With the series being all but over, this is the perfect time to send that message.

It will be interesting to see how the Pacers will come out in this one. Do they show some pride and play their hearts out trying to win one for their fans or do 3 tough losses with squandered leads take their toll in them mentally and emotionally and do they lay down a little bit? Honestly, I think the latter is a lot more likely. Judging by the quotes from guys like Vogel and Collison they sounded pretty defeated after game 3.  

Stat of the Day:

Kyle Korver is 7-for-8 from behind the 3-Point line this series

Probable Indiana Starters:

G – Darren Collison, 11.3 PPG

G – Paul George, 4.7 PPG

F – Danny Granger, 21.3 PPG

F – Tyler Hansbrough, 12.7 PPG

C – Roy Hibbert, 8.3 PPG

Probable Chicago Starters:

G – Derrick Rose, 32.7 PPG

G – Keith Bogans, 4.0 PPG

F – Luol Deng, 17.7 PPG

F – Carlos Boozer, 11.0 PPG

C – Joakim Noah, 8.3 PPG

Prediction:

Current Line: Chicago (-4.5), Over/Under 187.5

I predicted Bulls in 4 before the series started and I’m standing by that prediction. I think this series is over. You have to give Indiana credit for how tough they have played in the first 3 games, but I think that the Bulls have proven that even at less than their best they are better than the Indiana Pacers. The Bulls have one of the best crunch time players in the league, while the Pacers have really struggled in the final minutes of all 3 games. The Pacers sounded defeated after game 3 and the Bulls could benefit from the extra rest and sweep would provide them with.

Bulls 98 Pacers 86

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