The Bulls Lockdown the Hawks 95-83. Chicago leads the series 3-2.
The games was a getting back to the basics, sort of game for the Bulls. The Bulls know that when they play staunch defense they’re a very difficult team to beat. The Bulls made it uncomfortable inside for the Atlanta bigs and even though Al Horford had a decent night, with 12 points on 6 of 14 shooting, he settled for more than his fair share of jumpers. I’m sure Larry Drew will have a conversation with him about this later. Josh Smith also had another good game where he was active in the paint, on both ends of the floor. He even started the game by taking a charge. Smith and Horford were able to rebound and score but weren’t allowed to be all that effective late in the game. Zaza Pachulia helped to keep the Hawks afloat for a while but it just seemed like the Hawks big men didn’t want get physical down low. This might have had something to do with how aggressive Carlos Boozer was being. He was backing guys down in the paint instead of settling for that jumper that he usually goes for. Carlos was pushing guys and yelling. He needs intensity like that every night.
Derrick Rose was just more efficient all around. He scored just about as many points as game four and made just about as many shots. The difference? He took less shots than in game four. He took 24 shots in game five last night as opposed to 33 shots in game four. Rose looked to get his teammates involved early which was a good thing because he found a very hot Keith Bogans in the first half. Bogans was 4 of 7 (3 of 5 from three point range) for 11 points. This gave Chicago an early lead to hold onto. It looks like the Bulls are more comfortable holding onto a lead than chasing it. Luol Deng played much better as well. Deng was much more aggressive and was able to get to the free throw line a few more times. He also had some cuts to the basket that Chicago is going to need if they want to win it all. Rose was able to draw defenders which left Deng with a nice open lane to the basket and it was nice seeing him take advantage of that. Deng had 23 on 8 of 18 shooting.
The Hawks are not out of this series yet. Despite the loss they clearly had a lot of good things going for them. Josh Smith continued to be active. Kenny made a good point on Inside the NBA last night. Even when Josh Smith shoots poorly if he continues to be active getting rebounds, going after loose balls, and setting picks for his teammates then the Hawks a very capable of beating Chicago. Another thing that Atlanta has going for them is Jeff Teague. Teague has been playing good defense on Rose (even though its obvious he doesn’t know what to do with the Boozer/Noah/Asik screen that frees Derrick up) and even better offense. He simply hasn’t been making bad decisions. He has the ability to get to the basket, he shoots well, and he runs the offense like a vet at times. I wish coach Drew would run the offense through Teague instead of Joe Johnson. Joe Johnson is the one reason the Hawks might lose. When Johnson is hot he’s damn near unstoppable. When Johnson is bad or even average all he does is kill offensive possessions. There is no extra pass or anything like that. The offense just stops. Joe does his thing while the other four guys stand around and watch.
The Bulls and Hawks have the potential to be one of the better series in the playoffs so far. It wouldn’t have seemed like a good matchup at first but, its been fun to watch.