May 8, 2011 – By Scott
After losing the opening game of their 2011 NBA Playoffs series with the Atlanta Hawks, the Chicago Bulls have rallied back and jumped out to 2-1 lead in the series. The Bulls rallied back to win Game 2 and the league’s MVP, Derrick Rose, took over Game 3 scoring 44 points in Chicago’s 99-82 win.
Rose had his way with the Atlanta defense in Game 3. Whether hitting shots from the outside or slicing his way thorugh defenders to get to the basket, the Hawks had no answer for him. They will have to find that answer Sunday night in Game 4 in order to keep from putting themselves one game from elimination.
“He went coast to coast against four guys for an uncontested layup,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “He’s a phenomenal player. I’ll give credit where credit is due. But still, we have to be better at defending him and not just letting him get into the paint and score so easily.”
Playing at a more physical level is what Drew feels his team needs to accomplish, especially inside the paint. The Hawks have been outrebounded 105-73 in the last two games against the Bulls and in Game 3 were only called for one foul in the first half.
“You’re not going to win many games if you don’t play physical and get some fouls,” he said. “I’m not saying hurt people. But you’ve got to get physical fouls. It’s the playoffs.”
Atlanta’s Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford need to get back to level of play they showed in Game 1. The two combined for 56 points in the win but have been shutdown since. Since their scoring outbreak in the opener, the Bulls have double teamed the two just about every time they have touched the ball.
“A lot of key players get double teams. They play out of double teams,” Drew said. “A lot of playing out of double teams is not necessarily trying to beat the double team, but making plays. You have to show a willingness to give the ball up and trust your teammates. If you continue to try to beat the double team by yourself, you’re playing into the opposition’s hands.”
The Bulls will be favored by 4 according to NBA sportsbooks in Game 4 Sunday night in Atlanta. The OVER/UNDER is set at 179.