As the Chicago Bulls traveled to the nation’s capital to take on the Washington Wizards in game three of their first round series in the 2014 NBA Playoffs they knew that they might as well start packing their bags if they notched yet another loss. After all, no team in the history of the league has ever overcome an 0-3 deficit in a playoff series.
Though the outcome was in question until the buzzer sounded, Chicago did what needed to be done to pull through and pick up a road win and move the series to 2-1 in favor of Washington. Their defense still wasn’t at its normal levels of dominance still, but Jimmy Butler finally came alive late in the game and Carlos Boozer was big offensively.
However, no one stepped up for this Bulls team that was in desperate need of an offensive burst more than veteran forward Mike Dunleavy. Though we know he can score, no one could have foreseen the 35 points, five rebounds and three assists on 12-19 shooting from the floor and downright unconscious 8-10 shooting from deep that he delivered in the 100-97 win.
Prior to game three, I speculated that the Bulls should try and bring Jimmer Fredette off of the bench and give him relatively solid minutes in their rotation simply in the name of offense. While I stand by that still, Dunleavy made that much less of a necessity on Friday night with how he was able to score and shoot the rock.
While seeing Jimmer be the possible savior would be fantastic, the blueprint for the Bulls to climb back in this series was put forth on Friday night by Dunleavy. He too can explode offensively, but can also defend more capably than Fredette. It’d be huge if the Bulls could get Joakim Noah playing better and their defense clicking, but Dunleavy could very well be the guy that swings this series in Chicago’s favor.