Blog Entry

Bulls finally show that championship mettle

Posted on: May 6, 2011 10:08 pm
Edited on: May 6, 2011 10:56 pm
Posted by Royce Young

Hawks coach Larry Drew saw it just 49 seconds in to Game 3 as he called a timeout. Uh oh, the Bulls are starting to look like themselves finally.

Derrick Rose was spectacular (44 points, seven assists), the Chicago defense was great and the entire Bulls team put together a full 48 minutes of stellar basketball pummeling the Hawks 99-82 to take a 2-1 series lead.

Watching the Bulls this postseason, it was hard to really zero in at any moment where they looked like the dominant 62-win from the regular season. Game 5 against Indiana was the closest thing to it, but then again, that was against an overmatched Pacer squad.

The Bulls did the three things that they're very, very good at: They rebounded, they defended the perimeter and Derrick Rose was great. Add in the secondary players chipping in 34 points off the bench, and it's a recipe to beat pretty much anyone. Atlanta went just 1-6 from 3 and basically was limited to only scoring in the paint. The Hawks took Game 1 on the wings of excellent outside shooting. You could say the Bulls made a proper adjustment there.

Look at the Hawks by shot location and the percentages. They were 11-17 at the rim (only 17 attempts is insane) and 10-18 from 3-9 feet. The Bulls forced Atlanta outside where the Hawks shot just 9-25 from deep 2-pointer range. That's the Tom Thibodeau way. Seal the paint, force long 2s. Joakim Noah was terrific defensively with Luol Deng and the other Chicago wings playing a very good defensive game.

This was a big night for the Bulls. Not just for this series, but to figure out exactly where they stood. Were they really championship material? Were they really the best regular season team? Do they really have what it takes?

The opportunity was there Friday to answer some of those questions. The immediate task at hand was dispatching the Hawks to take a 2-1 series lead and regain homecourt advantage. But the broader mission was to re-discover themselves. To dig up that team that was so, so good the last three months.

I hesitate to announce outright that the Bulls are entirely back but, boy, they looked good on Friday. They were in a funk, no doubt, and Game 3 in Atlanta may have been just right thing to snap them out of it. Against Indiana, there never really was a sense of urgency. After the Hawks took Game 1 in Chicago, though, this Game 3 was the type of swing game that could potentially decide a series. If the Hawks were to win, they would have tightened their grip on the Bulls.

But Chicago showed up. It was mainly because Derrick Rose is awesome, but, also, the Bulls bench finally played like the best bench in basketball again. Finally, the defense was consistently good. Finally, there was a real, palpable energy throughout the game for the team. No, Carlos Boozer wasn't great. No, Deng didn't score the ball well. Those are two things almost everyone agrees needs to happen for the Bulls to truly compete.

And while I would agree with that, the Bulls team that dominated Game 3 is the type of team that can win a title. They found that balance of offense and defense that made them so dangerous during the regular season and, when Rose is scoring efficient like that, you're not going to be able to score enough to beat them.

Chicago intentionally slowed the game down to a crawl of just 82 possessions, executed offensively (120 offensive rating) and basically just drained the Hawks offense. The Bulls turned the Hawks into a painfully average offensive team in every way. Al Horford was non-factor, Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford couldn't shake loose and the team shot the ball horribly. Exactly what Thibodeau dreams about.

The Bulls needed this game. They've been needing it for about two weeks now. They needed to play the way they're capable of. They needed to show not us, but themselves, that yes, they're still good. They had yet to play a completely solid Chicago Bulls style game this postseason. They got it Friday night. And, in the meantime, put their foot on the throat of the Hawks.

Since: Sep 6, 2007
Posted on: May 7, 2011 6:17 am

Bulls finally show that championship mettle

Man Crawford done fucked up. He was so wrong, I had a feeling he was but the Bulls proved with a vengence. Jamal that was the Bulls best, crushing your soft hearted team and shutting you and Horford down

Since: Jul 27, 2008
Posted on: May 7, 2011 1:07 am

Bulls finally show that championship mettle

I thought it was funny when Crawford said the Hawks "took the Bulls' best shot" after game 2. I have a feeling the Bulls took the Hawks' best shot in game 1 and this one's over in 5.

Since: May 4, 2011
Posted on: May 6, 2011 11:32 pm

Bulls finally show that championship mettle

hey doyel!
has d-rose introduced himself already 2 u?

Sam Draper
Since: May 5, 2011
Posted on: May 6, 2011 11:24 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

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