Despite having a 3-2 lead in the series, all of the pressure is on the Chicago Bulls to close out the Brooklyn Nets at the United Center on Thursday night and move on to the second round of the NBA Playoffs. Given everything the team has faced this year in dealing with injuries, it’s a wonder how they’re even in this position at all.
But here they are and if they’re going to get past the Nets, the Bulls need to treat Game 6 just like it’s Game 7. Brooklyn is fighting for their lives and the right to continue their season, so defeating them will be no easy task.
With Kirk Hinrich’s status still up in the air (read: most likely out), Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Luol Deng all recovering from flu-like symptoms (Noah and Deng didn’t participate in Thursday’s morning shootaround), it’s not like Chicago has the deck stacked on their side, and it’s going to take a total team effort in order to put away Brooklyn.
Here are a few keys for Game 6:
Defense, Defense, Defense – In the two of the three games they’ve won in the series, Chicago has held Brooklyn to 35 percent shooting from the field, twice. In the games the Bulls have lost, Brooklyn shot 56 percent and 50 percent, respectively. The Bulls must put the defensive clamps on the Nets by making them work and contesting every shot attempt in order to give themselves the best chance to win.
Control the Boards – In Game 5, Brooklyn was dominant on the glass and all in all, they’ve done a great job on the boards against the Bulls in the series. Chicago isn’t a team that will win a whole lot of games with the rebounding margin not being on their side. They must attack both the offensive and defensive glass and with every shot attempt, they need to find and put a body on the Nets key rebounders.
Play Inside Out – Carlos Boozer has been the most consistent Bulls player this season, both in the regular season, but also in the playoffs. When he’s involved in the action early, he seems to play well throughout the remainder of the game. If Hinrich can’t go and Nate Robinson gets the start at point guard, he’ll need to get the bigs going first before he goes hunting for his own offense.
Contain Deron Williams – Despite having a reputation for disappearing, when he’s on his game, D. Will is really tough to stop. Chicago will have to do a great job disrupting the Nets’ pick-and-roll situations where Williams thrives most.
Tip-off for Game 6 will be at 7 p.m.
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