Sunday, May 01, 2005

Game 4

For a game 3 recap, Runnin' With the Bulls sums it up pretty well:

Etan Thomas was fourth on his team in scoring, but his 20 points and 9 rebounds were the difference in today’s game. Gilbert Arenas, Larry Hughes, and Antoine Jamison combined for 74, but Thomas’ buckets all came from within 2 feet of the whole effectively maximizing his efficiency: 8 of 9 from the field. Succinctly, Bull shot blockers got into foul trouble. Tyson Chandler fouled out with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks in only 27 minutes of play and for the first time since his injury the Bulls really missed Eddie[sic] Curry.

The Bulls didn’t do themselves any favors from the 3-point line; 7 of 26, 26 of 34 free throws, but 19 turnovers, and only 39% from the field. The Bulls are losing by an average of 12 points per game this season at the MCI Center where they are 0 – 3. In those 3 games, the Bulls are shooting only 37% and averaging 20 turnovers per game. This was the first time though however that the Wiz eclipsed the 100 point barrier, a worthy testament to the Bull defense.

On this day though however the Bulls were undermanned inside, too many penetrations resulting in too many open looks down low. The Wizards did what they do best today: attack, and the Bulls didn’t have an answer at either end of the court. The Bulls better figure out a way to stop the Wiz on offense or come up with a few tricks of their own to increase their own offensive efficiency, all 3 games now have the winner scoring in the triple digits.

The TNT announcing crew (I'm sorry, no Dore/Kerr/Pip for me) were crediting the scoring output of the Wizards' big men to the 'matured' play of their guards. But while there was some drive/dish moves by them, I didn't see a change in offensive philosophy. Most of the points scored by Thomas, Ruffin, et. al.,  were off of loose balls and offensive rebounds. The Bulls have to limit those chances, and the most significant change from game 3 to game 4 in this regard would be for Tyson to stay out of foul trouble. Part of his difficulty with fouls may be due to limited lateral quickness after spraining his ankle in the final game of the regular season. But even with that injury plus a dislocated finger suffered in game 3, Tyson changes the game when he's on the court rather than sitting with fouls.

While game 4 will be a big game in terms of momentum, my thinking is still that the Bulls won't play 3 more poor games like their previous and lose the series. Hopefully the Wizards' frontcourt won't be handed the same opportunities on offense, and that their guards continue to ignore them. Throw in a comeback game for Ben Gordon (after having the flu bug) and I see a Bulls win.