ATLANTA — With the series between the Bulls and Hawks being extended to six games, the Bulls will use their travel day to ponder what has gone so terribly wrong this postseason.
In terms of numbers, they are merely passing with a heavy reliance on Derrick Rose. This has been a weakness exposed by not only the Hawks, but the Pacers as well. The formula for the Bulls has been so bland and predictable thus far: if Derrick Rose is on the Bulls win, if he’s off the Bulls get embarrassed.
Another thing that has gone wrong is an inconsistency with the Bench Mob. For a bench that was so solid during the regular season, the Mob has been pretty quite making noise on rare occasions.
But perhaps the biggest letdown has been the non-factor the United Center has been. The biggest bonus of winning home court advantage was the fact that the Bulls dominated at home. So far they have struggled as much there as they have on the road.
And now they find themselves with a chance to clinch on the road, in what some would call a must win game. One could see why it is a must win for the Bulls while others (and the more die-hard Bulls faithful) will scoff at that idea, still drunk off the incredible regular season.
But as Miami is showing us, it matters more what you do here than the regular season.
Game 6 isn’t a must win in the traditional sense, but rather the psychological sense. There is little doubt that if the Bulls return home for a Game 7 that they will be favored to come away with the win, but will they be ready to face either Boston or Miami?
That’s the trouble with losing Game 6 for the Bulls, what confidence they have left will be shattered and the media fever will violently swing to Miami.
But then the question is: will that really be such a bad thing?
When the mainstream NBA media was obsessed with LA, Boston and especially Miami in the regular season, Chicago quietly snuck up on everyone and stole the number one seed with talent and swagger. Now that the spotlight is melting away the mysteriousness of the Bulls, they seem to be cracking under the pressure.
Cracking, but not yet crumbling.
What Game 6 will bring harkens back to an old Alfred Hitchcock saying, it’s enjoyment will depend on what side your on. What side the Bulls will be on is still unknown, and that’s part of the problem.
But despite the spotlight, the Bulls still work in mysterious ways and not all of them logical. But one thing that isn’t a mystery: a win in Game 6 will aid a lot of headaches in Chicago both on and off the court.