Sixers lead series 3-2
Bulls won Game Five 77-69
Bulls:Luol Deng (24 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks) and Carlos Boozer (19 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists)
Sixers: Spencer Hawes (11 points, 14 rebounds, 2 blocks) and Jrue Holiday (16 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists)
The Bulls survived elimination once, but they’ll have to do it twice more if they want to make it to the second round.
The Bulls got the win, but it is still their back up against the wall, down 3-2 and heading back to Philadelphia. At the same time though, the Sixers have a lot of pressure as well. Philadelphia is going to want to win tonight, rather than go back to Chicago for game seven. A game seven with the Chicago crowd behind the Bulls, and a then-confident Bulls team that won two games in a row, would be a tough win for many teams in the playoffs, even with the injuries to Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.
Last game was more like the Chicago Bulls we watched all season. They kept the score low, and won because of their defense. That’s how they’re going to have to do it without Rose, and possibly Noah, tonight. The Sixers shot just 32.1 percent from the field and 2-11 from deep.
The Bulls shot 5-10 from deep, which helped make up for a terrible 4-11 from the free throw line. If one thing can end Chicago’s season (other than losing Rose and Jo) it is going to be their free throws. The Bulls got to the line just 11 times, and shot 36.4 percent when they were there. Philly got to the line 24 times and shot 70.8 percent. So the Sixers are getting to the line a lot more, and shooting a much better percentage. Free throw shooting was a problem for the Bulls all season, but now with less offensive firepower, they need to convert from the line.
The best part of the game was seeing Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer step up. The Bulls have been waiting all series for these two to get it together. Boozington has been playing well lately, averaging 20.0 points and 11.3 rebounds over his last three games. Boozer is finally that low post fade-away mid-range jump shooter the Bulls have been looking for.
And Deng had a monster game, finally outplaying Andre Iguodala. Going into game five, Lu was averaging just 10.25 points per contest (Iguodala was averaging the same point total, but the Sixers don’t need him to carry the same scoring load). Deng hit 4-5 from deep and scored 24 points, while filling up the rest of the stat sheet as well (eight rebounds, one assist, two steals, two blocks)
The Bulls needed everything they could get from Boozer and Deng, because Rip Hamilton (6 points, 3-9 field goals) and C.J. Watson (5 points, 2-10 field goals) were disappointing again. After averaging 15.3 points per game in the first three games of the series, Rip has lost his touch. He’s averaging 6.5 over his last two. Rip needs to turn it around, because otherwise they might as well bring back Keith Bogans (just kidding. I didn’t mean it. Please don’t bring him back!).
Luckily for the Bulls, Ronnie Brewer came in and helped the Bulls win by doing everything (eight rebounds, three assists, three steals, one block) other than scoring big (six points, 3-7 shooting). After falling out of the rotation in game three, Brewer probably earned himself a good amount of minutes tonight.
But Ronnie Brewer isn’t going to solve the Bulls scoring problems. They need Watson, Rip, Kyle Korver or John Lucas to step up and help Boozer and Deng.
Scoring is hard for the Bulls, but holding the Sixers to 69 points at home will be even harder.
“You know how we feel. We feel like we let two get away in Philadelphia,” Boozer said. “We thought that we played well enough to win, but we just came up a little short.”
The Bulls don’t have the luxury of coming up short again, because that will mean the end of their season, and a longer than expected off-season.