Chicago Bulls at Philadelphia 76’ers -3 (Total: 169)
The Bulls held serve in Game Five and got a win on their home court in what might have been the most unwatchable playoff game in the last five years. Seriously, it was disgusting. The flow, the pace and choppiness and sloppiness… and the shooting. Ugggg, the shooting. Both teams combined for a 37% shooting night, with Philadelphia stinking up the United Center at 32.1% from the field. It was not pleasant to watch.
But as ugly as it may be, Tuesday night provided exactly the blueprint the Bulls are going to have to follow if they want to fight back out of their 3-1 hole and stay alive in the playoffs; make the game ugly, sloppy and physical. Derrick Rose isn’t around to bail them out offensively. It’s going to have to be scoring by scrapping, piecemeal offense generated from tenacious defense. At the end of the day, that’s exactly the way Coach Thibs likes it.
The big question for Chicago is whether or not CJ Watson is ever going to snap out of his offensive funk and provide the spark he did all season, and the spark his desperate team so desperately needs. He shot just 2-10 in the last game, and is averaging only 7.6 ppg on 25.5% shooting in the playoffs. They are going to need more from him tonight, and I think they’ll finally get it.
There is also the nagging question as to whether or not the Bulls with be with the services of Joakim Noah, who sprained his ankle in Game 3. If he plays, it gives them more defensive interior depth and certainly helps them rebounding, but super-sub Taj Gibson isn’t a significant downgrade. The difference needs to come from their backcourt, Watson and even Lucas need to contribute tonight.
Even though the Bulls are the team facing elimination, the pressure is on the young Sixers tonight. With all the injuries and the subsequent 3-1 deficit, the Bulls were all but buried and dead. Now? They are playing with house money, an odd scenario for the number one overall seed in the NBA Playoffs. They aren’t supposed to win this series. So now, the pressure swings to Philly, a young team trying to close out the veteran Bulls and earn their first playoff series win in eight years.
It isn’t going to be easy tonight for Philly, despite being at home. I think Chicago ratchets up the defensive pressure and smothers the young Sixers once again. As the shot clock rolls down, Philly doesn’t have that go-to-guy to deliver and bail them out. And they’re really going to feel that deficiency tonight. Give me the Bulls to win on the road and force the greatest gift in NBA basketball; a Game Seven.
Free Pick: Chicago Bulls +3