With a demanding 3-1 lead over the top seeded Chicago Bulls, the eight seed Philadelphia 76ers are aiming to close out the series in Chicago tonight.
With us already knowing that Joakim Noah will not be playing, the Bulls are at the same disadvantage they were at on Sunday afternoon. This means that, once again, Omer Asik will get the start. That’s definitely not something to hoot and holler about.
Asik does not bring the same kind of intensity that Noah does. In game four, Asik took one field goal attempt (which he missed) and made one of two free throws while grabbing six rebounds. He did however had three blocks, but on offense he is essentially a non-factor.
Speaking of non-factors, how about those guys that helped the Bulls out so much during the regular season, just to fall flat in the playoffs? Kyle Korver, John Lucas, but more importantly; Richard Hamilton. Near the end of the season, we saw a very healthy good shooting Rip Hamilton, but in the playoffs we have seen a Rip playing half as well as that. Sometimes less. 7 points on 3 of 9 shooting in game four. Ouch.
With Boozer and Gibson playing so well, we can expect to see the small lineup where Gibson plays center for most of tonight’s game. Deng, Boozer, Watson and Gibson with either Korver, Brewer or Hamilton in at the 2 guard spot.
Another guy we’d like to see step it up a bit is Luol Deng. Maybe his wrist injury is starting to take a toll on him, but his shooting has been way down in the playoffs. A big game from him, at home, would be a huge momentum booster for the Bulls.
The Bulls need an answer for the tremendous guard play on the 76ers. Not so much in game four, but throughout the rest of the series, the guards just seem like they can get in and score whenever they want.
Speaking of scoring at will… Spencer Hawes. He’s shooting almost 60% from the field, while averaging 12 points, he has scored over 20 points in the last two games. If the Bulls can find a way to shut him down, as well as limit the guard play, they will be able to outscore the 76ers.
Points per game is one of the few stats where the 76ers are ahead of the Bulls during this series. They are getting a lot of their points from the line. Shooting 76.4% from the line and getting there 27 times per game, while the Bulls are only shooting 65.8% in 20 attempts per game. You can see where the slim margins of victory have been in favor of the 76ers.
Where the Bulls lead in assists, field goal percentage, three point percentage, rebounds, it’s the fouling that’s losing them games. If they can manage to lay off the fouls, they will be in good shape.
Game five starts at 8:30pm on Comcast SportsNet and NBATV.