The motto for the NBA Playoffs is “Win or Go Home.” The Chicago Bulls are up against that exact scenario Tuesday night at the United Center.
A win extends the series to a sixth game on Thursday and a loss most likely means team exit interviews sometime on Wednesday.
At this point, not many people feel the Bulls can beat Philadelphia with two of their best players (Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah) sidelined with injuries. Since the team is playing at home, fans would at least like to see them exhibit a sense of urgency.
The City of Chicago embodies toughness and a willingness to fight until the very end. The Chicago Bulls have been a great reflection of that. We'd all like to see some fight from the Bulls whether they win or lose. Hopefully, the outcome is the former.
The last three games against Philadelphia were all close matches lost in the fourth quarter, and it's likely Game 5 will be another tight battle. Tom Thibodeau and his squad must find a way to close Philly out in those types of games. The Bulls could easily have led this series or, at the very least, be tied with the Sixers if they'd shown an ability to close and finish strong.
After tonight, there is no tomorrow. Only next year.
It's unfortunate that injuries derailed title hopes and aspirations, but it is what it is. Chicago hasn't been eliminated in a first-round playoff series since 2010 when Vinny Del Negro – who, ironically enough, is one victory away from winning his first career playoff series as head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers – was manning the sidelines. But they haven't been eliminated in the first round on their own home court since 2006 when they fell to the Miami Heat.
A win would certainly give the team momentum and could possibly give them enough of a spark to push the series to seven games which would bring both teams back here for a final showdown on Saturday. If Chicago wins, maybe Joakim Noah would be able to give it a go in Game 6? Maybe Game 7 if there is one? Who knows? But it all starts tonight.
Win or go home. There is nothing else.