The Chicago Bulls avoided elimination on Tuesday night. They defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 77-69. It wasn’t pretty by any means, as both teams struggled often, but the injury-plagued Bulls had just enough to get by. Luol Deng, led the Bulls with 24 points and 8 rebounds. Carlos Boozer recorded a double-double with 19 points, 13 rebounds, and tied a playoff career-high 6 assists. However, it was Chicago’s “bench mob,” that gave them a lift for the victory. Taj Gibson only had 8 points and 7 rebounds, but it was his 4 blocks and defense that made the difference. Late in the 1st half, Elton Brand dove for a loose ball on the floor, and Taj got into a heated scramble with him. Technical fouls were called on both players, but it was the spark the Bulls needed as the crowd and team fed off the energy.
In the 3rd quarter, the Bulls once again got another injury scare, as Gibson rolled his right ankle. It almost looked exactly like Joakim Noah’s injury to be honest. Taj is a tough kid from Brooklyn though, got the ankle taped back up, and was back on the floor in the 4th quarter. Deng made three big 3-pointers, in the fourth quarter, to help fend off any comeback by the Sixers. C.J. Watson and his shooting woes continue to hamper the Bulls offense. He was a miserable 2-10 from the floor, and only recorded 5 points. He is the replacement for Derrick Rose, he is the Chicago Bulls starting point guard. If they want to rally back in this series, they are certainly going to need a better effort out of him. Ronnie Brewer, who has become the forgotten man off the bench, reminded everyone he’s still a part of this team. He played 29 minutes, and had tremendous hustle and energy all night. He recorded 6 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and one block. Teammate Carlos Boozer called him “player of the game,” in a post-game interview.
The Sixers shooting woes continued into Game 5, as they have now shot under 40% in 3 straight games. They were 25-78 from the field (32%) and only managed to hit two 3-pointers. Jrue Holiday led the way with 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists, but he was 5-17 from the floor. Spencer Hawes and Andre Iguodala both added 11 points, but were a combined 8-28 (28%) from the floor. Hawes added 14 rebounds, but he clearly has come back to reality on the offensive end, after scoring 21 and 22 points in the previous 2 games. The Sixers, once again, had a lopsided advantage in free throws over the Bulls. In the past two games, the free throw story goes like this. 55-25. That’s right. Fifty-five free throws for the Sixers, compared to the Chicago Bulls 25 free throw attempts. I’m not going to play the blame game on the officiating, but they do need to be a little more consistent if you ask me.
The #1 seeded Bulls had all the pressure on them to win this game tonight, and oh how the tables have turned. All of the pressure has now turned to Philadelphia to close this series out at home. Game six at the Wells Fargo Arena will be their game 7. When Sixers coach Doug Collins was asked about a potential game 7, he simply replied, “I don’t want this series to go seven games.” He (Collins) knows if this series goes back to Chicago, his team may self-destruct. “You can’t let one game all of a sudden get you spinning in the wrong direction,” “We didn’t expect to beat the Bulls four straight. This is a damn good team.”
The Chicago Bulls, who are seeking to become the ninth team in NBA history to win a playoff series from a 3-1 deficit, are also trying to avoid becoming just the fifth No. 1 seed since 1984 to lose to an eighth seed. Coach Tom Thibodeau addressed the Bulls’ 3-1 deficit directly, by writing on the greaseboard that the Bulls had won three straight games 57 times over the last two seasons. “I have a lot of belief in our team,” Thibodeau said. “Our team has great character. And we have more than enough to win. … Things change quickly in this league. They can go from bad to good very quickly and good to bad.” Game six is scheduled for Thursday night, in Philadelphia. Let’s see if the Bulls can scrap their way to a road win, and be one game away, from extending that impressive streak to 58. See RED.
Be sure to follow me on twitter @windycityiggy