With years of history against them, the Chicago Bulls try to stave off elimination on Tuesday night as they face the Detroit Pistons on the road for the third time in the series. They will be hoping for a reverse trend of the previous two in which they lost by a combined 47 points, and shot just 33 and 35 percent respectively.
The Bulls were just minutes away from getting right back into the series before they let a 19 point lead dissipate at home to go down 3-0 in the series.
However, a 102-87 win at home has kept hope alive for the Bulls, who enter Tuesday’s game 5 literally playing for their post season lives.
“We just needed to stop the momentum and keep playing. Sometimes when you play a team as good as they are, when it starts going downhill, it is hard to stop. You have to keep playing, get some stops, and get some baskets. And that’s what we did,” said Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich after the game.
The Bulls have effectively dug themselves into a hole out of which no team has been able to climb. In fact, just a handful of teams have been able to force a 6th game, let alone a decisive 7th. While it is true that the majority of four game sweeps occur in the first round (specifically 1 vs 8 series, etc) the Bulls are still fighting an uphill battle.
“We’re trying to take it one game at a time. We won tonight, but we’re still fighting up hill. We realize that to win there, we need a great, great team effort,” said Hinrich, who posted 19 points and 10 assists in Chicago’s game 5 win. “That’s what we look forward to doing there.”
Tuesday’s game in Detroit represents a turning point in this series for reasons other than the Pistons have a 3-1 advantage. Obviously, should the Bulls lose, their season is over, but there is much more than meets the eye in this situation. Should the Bulls win in Detroit, they have an opportunity to bring the series back to Chicago while proving to themselves that they can win on the road should there be a game 7. This scenario gives the series a real “March Madness” feel, at least for the Bulls, and should make for great game(s) down the road.
The Bulls are a gritty, in-your-face team, and match up well with the Pistons. As in all sports, it simply comes down to a matter of execution. If the Bulls can move the ball up the court effectively and take advantage of opportunities, they will put themselves in a good position to win on Tuesday and prolong the series.
Can the Bulls pull of the impossible upset? Years of history says no, as do most analysts, but in the words of a famous New Yorker, “It ain’t over til it’s over.”