Posted by Royce Young
One Big Thing: Tied 1-1, a Game 3 obviously swings things greatly one way. For the Bulls, a win in Atlanta reclaims homecourt advantage. A loss, and the Hawks take even more control of this series. We all get pretty carried away calling a certain game big because in a seven-game playoff series, they're all big. But something says to me that if Atlanta really wants to seriously challenge in this series, Game 3 is very important.
The Bulls re-established themselves a bit in Game 2, playing stronger defense, rebounding well and getting enough from Derrick Rose. It was an ugly 48 minutes of basketball, but it's the way the Bulls win. Replicate that in Game 3 and the somewhat fragile Hawks may be ready to wilt a bit.
The X-Factor: The Hawks' X-factor all season has been Jamal Crawford. He only had 11 points in Game 2 and the entire Atlanta bench, normally a strength, had 13 total. But my X-factor for Game 3 is Jeff Teague. He played so well in Game 2 and in the first two games of the series he only has one turnover against the Chicago defense. That's huge. He's done well on Rose, handled the offense well and if he can score the ball well once again as Joe Johnson and Al Horford reassert themselves, Atlanta will be right there.
The Adjustment: The Hawks kind of relied on shooting the ball well from outside and that worked in Game 1. Not as much in Game 2. Johnson wasn't able to free himself in the second half and the team struggled to get anything good going from the pick-and-roll. The Bulls properly adjusted to Atlanta's perimeter high pick-and-roll attack, so it's up to Larry Drew and the Hawks to find a way to make things work.
The Sticking Point: If the Bulls are truly going to be a championship level team, it's time to show it. If they're serious about winning something, they've got to show up in Game 3. They've got to handle the Hawks and snuff out any belief Atlanta might truly have right now.
And I don't think it comes easy. This has single possession game written all over it. Who executes? Can Rose regain his form? Or can Joe Johnson show up again. The Bulls need to find more help whether it's with Carlos Boozer or Luol Deng and Game 3 is a fine time to start. Lose this one and things get a bit more iffy. The Bulls are better than the Hawks. Now's a good time to prove it.
Playoff Fix: A big swing coming in ATL
Posted on: May 5, 2011 11:23 pm
Edited on: May 6, 2011 12:51 am