Blog Entry

The Bulls looked exactly the same vs. the Hawks

Posted on: May 2, 2011 11:13 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 11:47 pm
Posted by Royce Young

Even after the Bulls dispatched the 37-win Pacers in five games, something just didn't look right. Maybe it was because three of the wins were so close to loses. Maybe it's because they lost once. Maybe it's because we expected more from the league's best regular season team.

We all expected a different Chicago team. I know I did. I tried to put my finger on it for five games against the Pacers, but something was just missing in that Indiana series. I figured it started to get sorted out in the Game 5 blowout clincher. And with a few days off, I figured the Bulls would be completely prepared for the Hawks.


The Hawks dominated early, starting the game on an 11-0 run before withstanding a strong surge by the Bulls in the third to win 103-95 and take a 1-0 series lead. Just like that, the Hawks snatched homecourt advantage from the Bulls and may have taken a little of their confidence with it too.

Because one team looked like the No. 1 seed and it wasn't the one in home whites. Derrick Rose was, well, awful. He went just 11-27 from the floor, for 24 points (no free throw attempts). The Chicago defense was carved up by solid floor spacing and good Atlanta shooting. Joe Johnson had maybe the best game in his playoff career; scoring 34 on 12-18 from the field (including an impressive 5-8 from midrange). The Hawks shot 51 percent, won the rebounding battle, turned it over just 10 times and made their free throws. A total recipe for a road win.

But, back to the Bulls. I'm the type of person that really hesitates on ever hitting the panic button. And it's still in another room for me right now in regard to the Bulls. But it's hard not to at least be alarmed about Chicago. Because they didn't improve. They didn't adjust. They didn't correct the issues that plagued them against Indiana.

They relied entirely too much on Rose's playmaking ability and appeared to almost assume they could stop the Hawks offense. It was like they didn't realize that Atlanta is actually pretty good. The energy and effort was there. It was more about a lack of preparation, execution and shot-making. The Bulls failed in all three areas.

The Pacers seemed to diagram out a good way to beat the Bulls: control tempo, funnel Rose into contested jumpers, try and keep him off the free throw line and force them to execute good offense in the halfcourt in big moments. Force the Bulls into relying entirely on Rose's ability, and take away Chicago's key advantages. The Pacers did well for the most part there, but they couldn't finish. They didn't have the horses to get to the end.

The Hawks, though, have players. They've got talent. Between Johnson, Al Horford, Jamal Crawford and Josh Smith, the Hawks can ball. Remember how not having Kirk Hinrich was seen as a big blow? All Jeff Teague did was score 10 points and dish out five assists with only one turnover. The Hawks were ready. And they took it to the Bulls.

By no means is this series over. Just like the favored Thunder who dropped Game 1 at home to Memphis Sunday, things can turn around quickly. But what this means is that Chicago has a very, very important game Wednesday night. Immediately the Bulls have put themselves into a must-win situation. Lose Wednesday and that panic button gets a whole lot bigger, and I might not be able to keep myself from punching it.

Tom Thibodeau was presented his 2010-11 Coach of the Year award before the game Monday night. It's time for him to really earn it. The Bulls have to move past the issues from the Indiana series. They've got to make some adjustments. In Game 1 versus Atlanta, there weren't any from the opening round. And the Bulls paid for it.

Since: Jun 11, 2007
Posted on: May 3, 2011 5:26 pm

The Bulls looked exactly the same vs. the Hawks

Very few people seem to want to give the Hawks the credit they are due.  This is a very solid NBA team, with good tatent and decent depth.  Really a nice, balanced team that has not received their fair share of media coverage in recent years.  They are quite a nice surprise for some us.  The Bulls have really got their hands full with this match up.  And now they have lost their home court advantage.  Atllanta shocked the Magic in round one, and this series with the Bulls smells an awfully lot like that Hawks series with Orlando.  Chicago better pay attention from the opening tip in game 2.  This will be a real dogfight, at best, for the Bulls.  If Chicago loses game 2, the series is probably over.  Hope Derrick Rose's injured foot doesn't hold him back.  He and Carlos Boozer have to be 100% in order for the Bulls to have a chance.

Since: Dec 4, 2006
Posted on: May 3, 2011 3:33 pm

The Bulls looked exactly the same vs. the Hawks

Actually now that I look at it the Hawks shot 53% from 3 point range, but it's not like they were shooting in mass (only 13 attempts) at that percentage. They had the least number of 3 points attempts of any game so far in the playoffs so far.

Since: Dec 4, 2006
Posted on: May 3, 2011 3:29 pm

The Bulls looked exactly the same vs. the Hawks

If you throw out the game where the Hawks got blasted by the Magic by 20+ points, the trio of Johnson, Crawford and Heinrich are 36 for 73 (49.3%) from 3 point range in the other 6 games of the playoffs. 56% from 3 is certainly not the norm, but it's not like they don't have shooters that are capable of having those kind of nights.

Since: Jun 22, 2007
Posted on: May 3, 2011 1:26 pm

The Bulls looked exactly the same vs. the Hawks

It's a fact. you think Atlanta will shoot 58% from 3 for the series? If Joes scores 23 a game (11 less than in game 1), Bulls take it in 6.

Since: Dec 4, 2006
Posted on: May 3, 2011 12:12 pm

The Bulls looked exactly the same vs. the Hawks

As a Magic fan this Hawks team is scary. The Hawks outshot the Magic every game except 1 in the series by a considerable margin and the only reason the games were close was the presense of Dwight Howard. Crawford is playing out of his mind and is uncanny with his ability to flail around after the shot and draw contact and fouls. Crawford and Johnson can get any shot at any time and they are hitting them this year as opposed to last year. Horford is the best midrange shooter in the NBA this season. Heinrich is knocking down the 3s. They have always been considered one of the most talented teams but had problems playing too much isolation with Joe Johnson and a reputation of mentally checking out when times get tough. Maybe this year they have an epiphany. They are going to be a tough out I believe.

Since: Mar 5, 2007
Posted on: May 3, 2011 10:49 am

The Bulls looked exactly the same vs. the Hawks

The Bulls are done pal. It could be no more obvious .  Tibido should be coaching college, his style has burnt this team out. Guarding close in a lost game in the final seconds is not playing hard it is dirt stupid and that ankle will be a factor in Chicago's remaining 3 games.

Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: May 3, 2011 12:17 am

The Bulls looked exactly the same vs. the Hawks

I hate it when people accuse the authors of not watching the game, but it doesn't seem like this bro did.  Derrick Rose was awful for the first quarter, take that out and he shot 11-20.  Not bad at all. 

The Bulls did not solely rely on Rose's play making ability, the bench played great in the 2nd quarter with Watson making plays as well as Deng making plays all game long. 

The reason the Hawks shot over 50% wasn't because the Bulls played bad defense, it was because the Hawks were just making the bad shots the Bulls were forcing them into.  That will not happen every game.

They did improve, they did adjust.  Otherwise they would've lost this game by 20+.  They came back to take the lead in the 3rd quarter, that would not happen if they did the same thing they did in the 1st quarter.

Not taking any credit from the Hawks, they looked pretty damn good tonight, but don't expect to take the series based off this game.

Since: Sep 4, 2006
Posted on: May 2, 2011 11:58 pm

The Bulls looked exactly the same vs. the Hawks

Sounding just like the Magic fans.  I am not saying that Joe will play again like he did or the Bulls defense will not step up but you are singing the Magic fan's song... No way Atlanta keeps us from making three's all series long.  No way Jamal puts up 20 again etc etc. As long as Joe is making about 23 a night the Hawks are in good shape

Since: Jun 22, 2007
Posted on: May 2, 2011 11:32 pm

The Bulls looked exactly the same vs. the Hawks

I won't say the Hawks got lucky, but lets face it. Joe Johnson is not going to shoot 66% every game, and the Hawks as a team aren't going to shoot 58% from 3. The Bulls defense wasn't as bad as the scoreline shows. They forced the Hawks into contested jumpers, and the Hawks (mostly Johnson) just sank them. The Bulls defense wasn't carved up. It was just shot over. That won't happen ever game in the series. The biggest concern is Rose's ankle.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or