CHICAGO — It seems as though the Bulls have finally decided to act like the team they really are. With their game 3 beat down of the Hawks, the Bulls will try to tighten the chokehold on Atlanta in front of an Atlanta crowd. But they aren’t just trying to closeout this series in Games 4 and 5, but their attempting to regain their swagger before a potential ConferenceFinals showdown with either the Heat or Celtics.
But as thrillingly delightful dreams of a title are, the Bulls need not get ahead of themselves and must fine tune a few things against the Hawks before any thought of opponent beyond that creep into mind.
1. Derrick Rose Must Remain On Fire
The Bulls have exposed an over reliance on Rose and although they need to move away from that as a whole, that doesn’t mean he can stop carrying his (enormous) weight. Rose is a scoring machine and his totals have improved with each game in this series until it came to fruition in his best career game in the post season in Game 3. Don’t expect another 44 out of Rose, but don’t at all be surprised if he fliers with it a couple more times this post season. And don’t for a second think it excuses a poor performance in the future; a loss in the post season this deep into them can be a fatal drug to take. Rose is the MVP for a reason and he flexed those muscles in Game 3 and he must continue to do this. As obvious as this may seem, we’ve seen what happens when Rose’s production totals are down. Just as his swagger is infectious, so are his slumps.
They were lights out and hands down one of the best benches in the NBA during the season. They were the biggest attribute to this deep Bulls rotation but the playoffs have made them look like what they are: bench players. The Bench Mob has the potential to be electric and be almost as good as the starting five, but this series in particular has been a roller coaster. They have posted point totals of 22, 12 and 34 in games 1, 2 and 3 respectively. Now in their defense, the Bulls are largely a defensive team and the bench regularly reflects that with big defensive men like Taj Gibson, Ronnie Brewer and Omer Asik. But even that aspect of their game has had no consistency allowing 37, 12, 14 in the first three games. The totals are coming down and Game 4 will be a big answer to the question of consistency surrounding the bench.
3. Carlos Boozer
He has been more than disappointing in the postseason so far with only a couple of game to be proud of. Boozer’s worst game of this series came in Game 3 where he was unimpressive in both scoring and rebounding where in the previous two he had balanced it with either alright shooting or alright rebounding. Boozer isn’t playing $75 million basketball and he’ll need to start if the Bulls want to be as well rounded as they were when they were competing for the number one seed.
4. Defense Trumps Poor Shooting
There was much hype and talk about the Hawks after game one of this series. But all the excitement has proved to be a fluke, the Hawks are showing their true poor shooting colors. In games this series where the Bulls defense has held Atlanta under 50% shooting, they win. The one game the Bulls have lost they allowed the Hawks to shoot 51.3% from the field and an astounding 53.8% from beyond the arch. In the two subsequent games the Bulls defense has clamped down and has taken full advantage of the Hawk poor shooting. In stark contrast to their three point percentage in Game 1, the Hawks shot just 16.7% and shot percentages of 33.8% and 47.1% from the field in Games 2 and 3 respectively. In Games 2 and 3, the Bulls massive defensive attack feasted on these missed shots gobbling up 44 defensive rebounds in Game 2 and 29 in Game 3. If the Bulls continue this, combined with Rose’s violent offensive assault, they will have a recipe that will be hard to top in these playoffs and it will definitely be too much for the Hawks to stomach.