Bulls-Sixers Game Three Preview

Game Two: Sixers won 109-92
Top Performers:
Sixers: Jrue Holiday (26 points, six assists), Evan Turner (19 points, seven rebounds, six assists) and Lou Williams (20 points, six assists)
Bulls: Joakim Noah (21 points, 10-11 from the field, eight rebounds, five assists) and John Lucas (15 points, four assists)

A lot of adjustments are made after game one. The Bulls biggest adjustment was playing without Derrick Rose for the rest of the playoffs. The Sixers made the right adjustments and blew Chicago out. Now it is the Bulls turn to make the right changes.

The only Bulls players who actually showed up in game two were Joakim Noah and John Lucas. Noah scored 21 points on 10-11 shooting, and added eight rebounds and five assists. JL3 scored 15 points (7-12 shooting) off the bench and dished four assists.

The rest of the starters, other than Noah, shot 15-43 from the field, or 34.9 percent. The bench, which usually builds leads, didn’t help much either. The only bench player with a positive plus/minus was Kyle Korver with a +3. Korver was actually the only player on the team with a positive plus/minus.

“We trust the system,” Luol Deng said. “It’s not one guy who’s going to try to come out and take the load by himself. We want to do it as a team. All year, we always believed that for us to win games, (we have) to rely on our defense.”

Well that didn’t work. Defense was how the Bulls won all year. It was how they survived, and flourished to a degree, without Derrick Rose. It was supposed to be how they were going to survive in the playoffs.

But game one of the no-Rose experiment didn’t show how good they are at defense. Philly shot 59.0 percent from the field and 41.7 from deep. The Sixers scored 109 points, which was tied for the second most they gave up all season.

The Bulls weren’t even hustling back on defense, as they gave up 25 fast break points (the Bulls had just eight fast break points of their own). And Chicago got pushed around inside, allowing 52 points in the paint, after giving up just 34 in game one.

The only two players with blocks were Luol Deng and Kyle Korver with two each (Korver made just two field goals, so it was nice to see him fill up the stat sheet elsewhere). None for Noah, none for Taj Gibson and none for Omer Asik. And Chicago had just three steals as a team.

The Sixers made two more free throws than the Bulls, while shooting three less (Chicago was 10-18 and the Sixers were 12-15). This wasn’t a big deal, because the Bulls lost by 17, but in close games, this could come back to haunt Chicago.

It didn’t look like a whole lot of effort coming from the Bulls, even though they were at home and had a lot to prove to the basketball world. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom.

One good thing for Chicago was that they had just eight turnovers (The Bulls had 18 turnovers in game one). Philadelphia, a team known for holding onto the ball, had nine team turnovers. The Sixers were first in turnover percentage in the regular season (.109). Chicago was eighth (.132). If the Bulls can hold onto the ball, it will go a long way, because they need every offensive possession without Rose and against a tough Philly defense.

The only must-win games are when you are facing elimination. But the Bulls really need this one. They got blown out in their first game without Derrick Rose, and don’t want to be down 2-1 in the series with game four again on the road.

The Bulls were 24-9 on the road in the regular season, the best road record in the league. Philly was 19-14 in the Wells Fargo Center, a solid home record.

“Defense and rebounding, that’s the whole key,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “The big thing was they got into the open floor. They got easy baskets. You get easy baskets early in the game, you’re going to get confidence. When a team gets confidence, they’re much harder to shut down.”

Thibs surely used the two full days between games to watch film and the Bulls should make the necessary adjustments tonight. But Thibs can only do so much. The Bulls have to be hungry. Something they were all season, but was missing in game two.

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Designed by Anthony Bain