Game 1 Recap: Chicago Bulls vs Atlanta Hawks

Posted by By at 4 May, at 02 : 23 AM Print

Tom Thibodeau’s receiving of the Coach of the Year award was reason to celebrate yesterday. The performance of his Bulls in their 103-95 loss to the Atlanta Hawks was not. To add insult to injury, or maybe it should be the other way around, Derrick Rose limped off the court at the end of the game after injuring the same ankle he did in the series against Indiana. Needless to say, the series didn’t get off to a good start for Chicago, and got off to a perfect one for the Hawks as they will feel that the playing field could be somewhat even after they lost their starting point guard, Kirk Hinrich, to an injury during the series with Orlando, if Rose is not able to play in the next game.

Joe Johnson did his best to try and justify the big free agent contract he signed in the off-season. He led the team with 34 points, going 12-18 from the floor and 5-5 from  behind the arc and did not miss a free-throw, going 5-5 from the line as well. Stepping in for Hinrich, Jeff Teague had a very solid game with 10 points and 5 assists but his defense on Rose was where he made his largest contribution. He contested Rose on every shot and must have made him feel like it was the Pacers series all over again. Jamal Crawford came off the bench  to do what he’s done all year long. He averaged 20 a game in the Orlando series and picked up right where he left off with 22. Josh Smith had an off night, as he reverted to the less efficient version of himself, settling for too many jumpers. Al Horford had an unspectacular, but efficient 9 points to go along with his 13 rebounds and 2 blocks.

Rose had yet another rough shooting night going 11-27, largely due to the defensive effort by Jeff Teague, but did manage a double-double with 24 points and 10 assists. Luol Deng continued his solid playoff run adding 21 with 6 rebounds and Carlos Boozer stayed out of foul trouble and started this series off better than he did the last one with 14 and 8 rebounds. Kyle Korver came off the bench to hit 3 shots, not surprising that they were all 3′s and Ronnie Brewer chipped in with 6 off the bench.

Game 2 tomorrow night is almost a must-win for the Bulls as they go to Atlanta for the next two games on Friday and Sunday and would like to have a win in their pocket before doing so. Much will be made between now and game time about the status of Rose’s ankle, but we saw in the last series that playing with pain isn’t an issue for him. Boozer played better and Deng was his consistent self so there isn’t much of a need for Thibodeau to panic, yet.

Atlanta shot 51% from the floor and many were tough, contested shots by Crawford & Johnson. While Thibodeau won’t be happy at the final stat, he would have to admit that alot of those shots were pressured by his team and were just great shots. The Bulls track record for defense would lead you to believe that Atlanta might not shoot over 50% again, but Crawford is a as streaky as anyone in the playoffs and when he gets hot he can make shots that not many can. Johnson has accepted the responsibility of putting the team on his back and will carry them as far as he can in an effort to show that he’s worth the money Atlanta spent on him last summer.

Game 2 should be just as entertaining as game 1 so check back here for the recap when it’s all said done and the series shifts to Atlanta for games 3 & 4.

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