Did the Bulls Blow Their Chances?
*Photo via AP
The Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers have put on one of the best series in this year’s NBA Playoffs. So far each team has had a game of total dominance, and in Chicago we saw back-to-back buzzer beaters in Games 3 and 4, one by Derrick Rose, the other by LeBron James. This series has seen everything and after their Game Five loss, the Bulls have to be wondering if they blew their chances of winning the series.
I believe that the Bulls are far from done in this series. However, they have dug themselves into a pretty big hole now trailing in the series three games to two. If the Bulls can win Thursday against the Cavs and get it to Game 7, anything can happen.
Before the series I wrote about the five keys for the Bulls to win the series. Out of those five keys, the Bulls have not executed on three of them, now coincidentally trail three games to two. The Bulls have not reduced the Cavs second chance points, they have done a poor job containing James on defense (however, that is not an easy task for anyone) and failed to stay healthy.
So far, Pau Gasol has missed two and a half games with a strained hamstring and that has killed the Bulls’ rebounding, in particular and it has allowed the Cavs more second chance points. James has also killed the Bulls in the series so far with stellar games in Games 2 and 5, including the game winner at the buzzer in Game 4.
The Bulls definitely do not have an easy task in front of them. For the first time in the playoffs, their backs are against the wall and they find themselves in a win or go home situation. It will be interesting to see how the Bulls respond in Game 6. They have to come out and play their best game of the season to force a Game 7.
I believe that the Bulls are not done. They were trailing by 17 in the fourth quarter of Game 5 and fought back to bring the game within two points and even had a chance to take the lead. They did not lie back, showing their fight and grit, playing hard until the final minute.
The Bulls still have a chance in this series. They put themselves in this situation and if they want to come out as winners in this series, they have to win Game 6 before they can think about Game 7. There is so much of this game riding on Gasol’s health. If Gasol can play, the Bulls have a good chance of out-rebounding the Cavs and preventing second chance points.
The Bulls need to come out and play with intensity, fire and continue that for 48 minutes. If the Chicago Bulls can get Gasol back, be more aggressive on offense and slow James down a little bit, they can come out and win Game 6.